Thursday, February 11, 2010

NL East Capsule: My predictions - the Marlins

Yesterday, I profiled the 2010 Atlanta Braves - today, I move on to the 2010 Florida Marlins.

Florida Marlins:
LF: Chris Coghlan
C: John Baker
SS: Hanley Ramirez
2B: Dan Uggla
3B: Jorge Cantu
RF: Cody Ross
1B: Logan Morrison
CF: Cameron Maybin
Bench: C Ronny Paulino, 1/3 Wes Helms, 2/3 Emilio Bonifacio, OF Brett Carroll, IF Gaby Sanchez?

Pitching Staff
SP: Josh Johnson
SP: Ricky Nolasco
SP: Anibal Sanchez
SP: Sean West
SP: Chris Volstad
CP: Leo Nunez
RP: Derrick Turnbow, Seth McClung, Jose Veras, Renyel Pinto, Taylor Tankersley, Burke Badenhop

The Marlins have been the "surprise" team of the NL East over the last 4 years or so. I am not sure how long a team can go on winning and still be considered a "surprise" team, but I am fairly certain that most prognosticators will be surprised again by the Fish. I have been an advocate of the NL East being the best division in baseball over the last 5 years or so - and I have had numerous debates over that very topic (The AL East has recently been pretty stiff competition for the crown of toughest division). I think the Marlins are the reason the NL East grades out as toughest in baseball.
This offseason the Marlins did not change the makeup of the team all that much, the only additions of note have been in the bullpen. The Marlins added Derrick Turnbow, Seth McClung, and Jose Veras - other than that the biggest "moves" the Marlins made this offseason were resigning Josh Johnson to a long term deal and bringing back Dan Uggla for at least one more year.
The biggest question for the Marlins entering the 2010 season is who will play 1st base and who will play 3rd base? The Marlins hope that Logan Morrison will win the 1st base job out of Spring Training, Gaby Sanchez will be fighting him for the starters job. At 3rd base Jorge Cantu will be penciled in as the starter but Jorge Jimenez the Marlins rule 4 draft pick from the Boston Red Sox will try and make an impression with the Marlins coaching staff. If Jimenez can prove that he should be playing every day for the Marlins in 2010, the team may move Cantu over to 1st. However, if Jimenez and one of Morrison or Sanchez play well enough during Spring Training it may push the Marlins front office to trade Cantu or Uggla for the best package they can get in return. A 2010 where the Marlins can start rookies at 1st and 3rd could be a very good thing for the team.
The pitching staff is another big question for the Marlins, they have some immense talent in their stables but it is young, mostly unproven talent. If everything goes well the Marlins pitching staff could be dominant, but as in life, baseball never goes perfectly. I think we can reasonably expect the Marlins pitching staff to look dominant some days and to look clownish others. The offense will hit for power, and some days will put up impressive numbers - but on most days the production will not be enough to win.
In terms of consistency I expect the Marlins to take a step forward this year. The pitching staff will be a touch more reliable, and the offense will play more evenly from day to day - less highs but far less lows as well. As I said yesterday with the Braves, the Marlins are a good team - in my personal view, better than the other divisions (other than the Cardinals and Dodgers) - but not good enough to realistically compete in the NL East. I expect them to finish fourth in the division in 2010.

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