30 Clubs in 30 Days: Miami Marlins

Posted: March 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

ImageOver the course of the last 18 months, the Miami Marlins have undergone more facelifts than Joan Rivers on her 80th birthday (this June, by the way). The franchise formerly known as “Florida” opened up a brilliant new ballpark with much fanfare and opened the checkbooks to welcome stars like Jose Reyes (.287-11-57) and Mark Buehrle (13-13. 3.74) to South Beach. Unfortunately for owner Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins collapsed under the pressure of added expectations, losing three more games than they did in 2011 and costing Ozzie Guillen his job after just one season at the helm. This offseason, for the third time in their short history, the Marlins purged their roster. Gone were the high-priced, talented athletes that they brought in just a season before. Reyes and Buehrle were shipped north of the border to Toronto. Heath Bell (4-5, 5.09) was off to Arizona, and Carlos Zambrano (7-10, 4.49) was granted free agency. Going with them were longtime fixtures in Josh Johnson (8-14, 3.81) and Emilio Bonifacio (.258-1-11). The moves were looked at with disdain, coming just a year after the publicly financed Marlins Ballpark opened.

Now, the expectations are tempered, the team is young, and the fan base is predictably apathetic towards the organization. The team struggled to sell-out their new ballpark even in its inaugural season. That task will become even more daunting with a roster of castoffs and kids, looking to rebuild this once proud, two-time world championship ball-club.

Five Year Review:
2012: 69-93
2011: 72-90
2010: 80-82
2009: 87-75
2008: 84-77

2012 Team MVP: RF Giancarlo Stanton: The last piece of a ruined puzzle, 23-year old Giancarlo Stanton has emerged as one of the premier power threats in the game. Following up on his .262-34-87 2011 campaign, the California native exploded in his first season under the name, “Giancarlo.” His .608 slugging percentage, a meteoric statistic, led the National League. At .290-37-86, Stanton led the Marlins in nearly every offensive statistical category. The youngster voiced his displeasure over the gutting of the team’s roster in the winter. But, unfortunately for him, he is under team control through the 2017 season. 

2012 Team LVP: 3B Hanley Ramirez: There were other characters worthy of this spot. Such as Bell, Gaby Sanchez, or Chris Coghlan to name a few. However, no one player truly exemplified just how far the Fish had fallen quite like Ramirez. An MVP runner up in 2009, Hanley was renowned as one of the finest young ballplayers in the sport at just 25-years old. His .342-24-106 line from that year was thought to be the beginning of a long and impressive prime for the infielder. Unfortunately for the Marlins, that season proved to be a statistical peak, set right before the emergence of a massive valley in his career. The following season, Ramirez hit .300-21-76, still respectable numbers. But, it all came crashing down in 2011. The now 29-year old is no longer a kid, and has seen his numbers dip dramatically. His combined totals from 2011-12: .252-34-137 in 249 games. The ability to hit for contact is gone, his speed is dwindling, and his attitude and fielding deficiencies culminated in the organization shipping the once prized talent to Los Angeles last July for RHP Nathan Eovaldi. He is the Dodgers’ headache now, making an average of $15.75 mm a year through 2014.

Key Acquisitions:

C Jeff Mathis (Toronto Blue Jays)
1B Casey Kotchman (Cleveland Indians)
SS Adeiny Hechavarria (Toronto Blue Jays)
3B Placido Polanco (Philadelphia Phillies)
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (Colorado Rockies)
3B Matt Downs (Houston Astros)
LF Juan Pierre (Philadelphia Phillies)
RHP Henderson Alvarez (Toronto Blue Jays)
RHP Jon Rauch (New York Mets)
RHP Mitch Talbot (Cleveland Indians)
RHP Michael Wuertz (Oakland Athletics)
RHP Kevin Slowey (Cleveland Indians)
RHP Chad Qualls (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Key Departures:

C John Buck (New York Mets)
1B Carlos Lee (unsigned)
2B Emilio Bonifacio (Toronto Blue Jays)
SS Jose Reyes (Toronto Blue Jays)
RHP Chad Gaudin (San Francisco Giants)
RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo (Tampa Bay Rays)
RHP Carlos Zambrano (unsigned)
RHP Heath Bell (Arizona Diamondbacks)
RHP Josh Johnson (Toronto Blue Jays)
LHP Mark Buehrle (Toronto Blue Jays)

Projected Lineup/Rotation (w/composite 2013 projections):

LF Juan Pierre – .284-1-33-29 SB
3B Placido Polanco – .278-4-38
RF Giancarlo Stanton – .273-41-104
1B Logan Morrison – .259-16-67
CF Justin Ruggiano – .260-16-61-16 SB
C Rob Brantly – .261-7-39
2B Donovan Solano – .263-3-33
SS Adeiny Hechavarria – .253-5-37

RHP Ricky Nolasco – 10-12, 4.17
RHP Henderson Alvarez – 9-11, 4.47
LHP Wade LeBlanc – 7-8, 4.40
RHP Nathan Eovaldi – 8-10, 4.62
RHP Jacob Turner – 7-9, 4.47
RHP Steve Cishek – 3-2, 3.48, 17 SV
RHP Jon Rauch – 3-3, 3.93

2013 Outlook:

As mentioned, the Marlins are almost an entirely different team than they were at this time a year ago. Youngsters like C Rob Brantly, 2B Donovan Solano, and SS Adeiny Hechavarria will need to cement their place in Miami if the Marlins have any hopes of keeping their record respectable. Meanwhile, grizzled veterans like Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco were brought in to provide leadership for a young ball club.

The pitching staff is the most troublesome aspect of this team. Any time you shed three starters from your previous year’s rotation and only replace them with one pitcher, Henderson Alvarez, you are going to experience some growing pains. Eovaldi and RHP Jacob Turner were acquired at the trade deadline last year. They both have bundles of upside, but, have little to show for it at the MLB level at this point. I would be very concerned about those young pitchers if I were one of the 68 Marlins fans.

The Fish went for it all last year, casting their line into the free agent ocean and pulling out a few prized bass in the process. Unfortunately, those bass went bad, and left the entire city with a bad taste in their mouths. Now, one year later, the Marlins will look to do it again and open their ballpark with a young and energetic ball club that is likely once again a few seasons away from contention. I see the Marlins winning between 65-71 games, good for last in the NL East.

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