Saturday, March 24, 2012

Miami Marlins Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Our next post takes us all the way across the country to Miami, where a bunch of big free agent signings have the Marlins thinking big.  A new manager doesn't help ease expectations and this team is expected to contend.  Will they?  Let's find out.

Infield:  John Buck at catcher, Gaby Sanchez at first base, Omar Infante at second base, Jose Reyes at shortstop, and Hanley Ramirez at third base.

Buck is a career .241 hitter but has been a starting catcher for nine years.  Catcher is one of the positions that places more emphasis on defense.  As long as you can control a pitching staff and can throw runners out, any offense is just gravy.  Gaby Sanchez has now had two full years in the big leagues, and he took a huge stride from his first season to his second.  If he takes another jump from year two to year three we might have an above average first baseman here.  He has got to improve his batting average, but everything else is stepping in the right direction.  Omar Infante needs to be more patient at the plate.  In 148 games last year he walked only 34 times. I know he is a free swinger but he still needs to be much more patient at the plate.  The left side of this infield is probably the most talented in baseball, but also has two of the most privileged players.  I must admit I lost a lot of respect for Jose Reyes when he took himself out fo the game so on the last day of the season so he could win the batting title.  You didn't see Ted Williams do that, play the game right son!  I personally think that since he got his money he won't be playing as hard.  I have a feeling that he will be one of the biggest disappointments in 2012.  He definitely won't come close to replicating his .337 average that he hit last year.  Hanley Ramirez will be mad that he isn't the shortstop anymore, and he is a pouter.  He does things that Ozzie Guillen will not put up with and it is only a matter of time before he is in the doghouse.

Who will have the best season of these guys? I still think Hanley Ramirez is one of the most talented players in all of baseball, and I think he will have the best season of these five.  He will not have as good of a season in comparison to his talent level, but he will still be alright.

Outfield:  Logan Morrison in left field, Emilo Bonifacio in center field, and Giancarlo Stanton in right field.

Logan Morrison had a very promising 2010, but dropped off strongly last year.  He only hit .247 and was actually demoted to the minors in August.  Although he is one of the more entertaining people to follow on twitter, he needs to have a good season on the field or the marlins will quickly get tired of his exploits off of it.  Bonafacio had a season that you want to see out of a lead-off hitter.  He hit .296 last year and stole 40 bases last year.  We will see what Ozzie had in mind but I don't think he will be in that role this year with Reyes there. I think he should be in the lead-off role but won't be. Stanton changed his name from Mike to Giancarlo.  As long as he keeps hitting home runs the way he is you can call him whatever you want.  He already has 56 home runs and is only 22.  If he keeps up this pace we could be talking about over 500 home runs.  I know its early but he has been that impressive so far.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Stanton will continue to amaze people with his raw power.  He will hit another 35 home runs this year and will improve on his .267 average.  He will also lead the league in majestic home runs, the kid has amazing raw power.  The Marlins got a guy here who they can build around for the next decade.

Starting Pitching:  Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Carlos Zambrano.

After the month of April Josh Johnson looked like the unanimous Cy Young winner.  In May he got injured... Again.  He only got 9 starts in last year, and while I think he will get more this year, I will be very surprised if he gets to 30 starts.  Buehrle is the best free agent signing the Marlins had this year.  Better than Reyes.  Better than Heath Bell.  He will continue to throw 88 miles per hour, work very quickly, and frustrate the hell out of hitters.  Ricky Nolasco suffers from Bronson Arroyo syndrome.  He goes from having a great start to getting pulled in the first inning.  He is so inconsistent you just can never trust him.  Anibal Sanchez struck out over 200 hitters last year and had an ERA under 4.  I think he is vastly underrated and will win 15 games this year.  That leaves only Carlos Zambrano.  No one is denying his talent, and if anyone can reign him in it might be Ozzie Guillen.  That being said this is still a move that I don't understand.  He has shown his off the field antics outweigh his pitching abilities and I don't think he finishes the season in baseball.  He will say something stupid and will get cut.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  I think Anibal Sanchez will have the best season of these five.  Josh Johnson will not stay healthy so it will be between Buehrle and Sanchez.  I think Sanchez will out pitch Buerhle and will be the best starter on this team.

Bullpen: Heath Bell, Juan Oviedo, Edward Mujica, and Randy Choate.

Heath Bell is the most overrated closer not named Johnathan Papelbon in the Major Leagues today.  He had a great park to pitch in and a great set up guy in front of him.  Now that Mike Gonzales and Petco Park are in his rear-view mirror I think he will struggle this year.  Oviedo, the former Leo Nunez, saved 92 games the last three seasons and if Bell gets injured or struggles, the closer role will go to him once again.  Mujica won 9 games last year, and I don't think that will happen again for any reliever this year.  He will still have a good year, but not too the extent he had last year.  Randy Choate is 36 and has a career ERA over 4.  However he is left-handed and had a great season last year for this team with an ERA under 2.  I think that his numbers will be closer to his career average, but he sill still be used because he is left-handed.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Oviedo will have the best year for this team.  Bell will struggle and they eventually will have to replace him and Oviedo will be the guy.  Oviedo kind of embodies this whole team though.  New identity.  That is what the Marlins are going for.  They have a new park, new name, new manager, big new signings, but they still got to perform on the field.  I don't think this year is the year for them.

Record: 79-83, fourth in the National League East

Next up:  Milwaukee Brewers

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