30 Clubs in 30 Days: Miami Marlins

Posted: March 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

marlins 2It wasn’t long ago that the Miami Marlins considered themselves contenders in the National League East. Prior to the 2012 season, the Fish went “all in,” landing high profile free agents in Jose Reyes and Mark Buerhle as they moved into their new stadium.

Unfortunately for Marlins fans, that euphoric feeling didn’t last long. Miami struggled through a dismal campaign, losing 93 games before eventually selling off their high priced assets in what amounted to one giant ponzi-scheme perpetuated against the public. The following season, the Fish fell to 62-100, good for dead last in the division.

Not a whole lot has changed between this year and last. Mike Redmond returns for his second season on the job, as the Marlins’ manager will look to tutor a young club rife with inexperience and growing pains to come. The team did make some notable offseason acquisitions. Their biggest move might have been solidifying the catcher position by signing World Series champion Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year contract. The former Red Sox backstop was integral to the team’s championship run. He’ll bring power and experience to a team in need of both.

Also joining the club is SS Rafael Furcal, who didn’t play at all in 2013 and is expected to begin this season on the DL. Other veteran signings expected to play key roles are 1B Garrett Jones and 3B Casey McGehee. The latter played overseas last year, and is ready for one more shot at the bigs in 2014.

The Marlins’ big bopper, Giancarlo Stanton, is back for one more ride amid swirling trade rumors. After hitting 24 homers last year while battling injuries, the slugging outfielder will look to rise back to the top of the National League’s home run leaderboard.

Other than that, it’s a smorgasbord of youth in the Marlins’ lineup. OF Christian Yelich, OF Marcell Ozuna, and SS Adeiny Hechevarria are expected to play larger roles this year after getting their feet wet on South Beach a season ago.

The rotation, while young, is headlined by 21-year old phenom Jose Fernandez. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year is coming off a 12-6, 2.19 campaign that would have seen even more success if it weren’t for a putrid offense in front of him. He will join with fellow youngsters Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Jacob Turner, Brad Hand, and Tom Koehler to make up what should be an exciting rotation. None of those tossers have the upside of Fernandez. But, they all have the makeup to be successful big league starters, so the Fish at least have that going for them after a 100 loss campaign in 2013.

The Marlins ran into some controversy this spring when they charged fans a premium ticket price for their Grapefruit League matchup against the Red Sox, only to see Boston not send any real major league players to the game. Miami tried to bargain with the league for some sort of repercussion against their opponents. None came. In fact, the Fish ended up with more egg on their face after Red Sox owner John Henry tweeted that Miami should be fined for their regular season lineup. Never has Henry been quite so right.

Key Arrivals

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Red Sox)
1B Garrett Jones (Pirates)
2B Rafael Furcal (D.N.P)
3B Casey McGehee (Japan)
OF Brian Bogusevic (Cubs)
OF Jeff Baker (Rangers)
OF Reed Johnson (Braves)
RHP Carlos Marmol (Dodgers)

Key Departures

1B Logan Morrison (Mariners)
OF Justin Ruggiano (Cubs)
RHP Chad Qualls (Astros)

Projected Lineup and Rotation (with Stat Projections)

2B Donovan Solano – .272-2-19
OF Christian Yelich – .259-10-66
OF Giancarlo Stanton – .249-33-88
1B Garrett Jones – .233-19-69
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia – .250-17-63
OF Marcell Ozuna – .257-4-36
3B Casey McGehee – .249-10-41
SS Adeiny Hechavarria – .247-2-33

RHP Jose Fernandez – 13-7, 2.93
RHP Nathan Eovaldi – 8-7, 3.96
RHP Henderson Alvarez – 8-7, 3.93
RHP Jacob Turner – 6-8, 4.56
RHP Brad Hand – 6-7, 4.10

RHP Steve Cishek – 2-2, 2.85, 31 Sv

Outlook

Despite ESPN’s belief that the Marlins will outrank the Philadelphia Phillies this marlins1year, there’s little doubt that this is the worst team in the East. Miami’s addition of Saltalamacchia doesn’t suddenly make a 100-loss team into a contender. Especially considering the fact that few even wanted the veteran backstop at the price Miami payed (3 years, $21 million).

The one thing that the Marlins have going for them is phenomenal young pitching. In fact, I’d argue that this Miami team has the best young pitching they’ve had since the team won the title in 2003. The only problem is that the offense and defense around them is so porous that it might stunt their growth. Even Fernandez, who came in third in NL Cy Young voting, won just 12 games last year because of no run support or bullpen blunders.

The Marlins won’t lose 100 games this season. Their pitching is too good for that. But, until they find the right mix of offensive talent to support that strength, they’ll once again toil at the bottom of the NL East. I foresee the Fish winning between 66-72 games, falling into last once again in a competitive NL East.

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