Friday, March 4, 2011

MLB 30 in 30: Florida Marlins

The Florida Marlins have made 2 playoff appearances in their history. They won the World Series both times. But, 2003 seems like a long time ago, as they've been rebuilding since then. Now, prospects seem to be looking up for the organization with a new stadium coming next year. Question is: Will the Marlins have enough to compete this year?

What they Have: Hanley Ramirez, who may be the most talented player in baseball this side of Albert Pujols. He is the Marlins franchise after the team threw its most expensive contract in team history at him. Now, compliment him with standout RF Mike Stanton, and CF Chris Coghlan, the Marlins have a good young core that has already paid dividends. Other good pieces the Marlins have include LF Logan Morrison, whose coming off a year in which he batted .283, 1B Gaby Sanchez who had 19 HR's and 85 RBI's, and catcher John Buck, whom the Marlins acquired from the Jays in free agency. This is a solid lineup up and down, and can compete with the likes of other potential wild card teams in the NL. The starting rotation is also solid. Josh Johnson is the ace, and he's coming off a year when he had 2.30 ERA . Also, Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad and Anibal Sanchez all return. The wild card in this is newly acquired Javier Vazquez, off his poor year with the Yankees. Will he pitch like he did in 2009 with the Braves, or more like in 2010? In the bullpen, the closer is Leo Nunez, and he will lead a bullpen that is a question mark.

What they Don't Have: They don't have any major deficiencies, but their bullpen is a bit of a sore spot. Behind Leo Nunez, the rest of the pen is filled with journeymen relievers, who are good, but may not be enough to cure a bullpen that did have problems last season. Also look to Omar Infante to be a potential worry spot too. He may be at 2B or 3B depending on the process of top prospect Matt Dominguez, which may limit his effectiveness. There aren't major problems on this team, but the biggest question is do they have enough everywhere across the team?

Any Help Coming? 3B Matt Dominguez is the star prospect, and he likely will start the year at third, unless he has a terrible spring training. He has the defensive tools, but offensively he still is a bit raw, and may take another year to polish his hitting. He may end up splitting time between AAA and the majors. Also, Brad Hand is a promising RHP and will see AAA action this season. Ozzie Martinez has been exclusively a SS for some time, but will switch to 2B if he sees major league action this season, which is a possibility.

Outlook: They are really a team in limbo. They aren't one of the worst teams in the league, yet they may not have enough all around to compete for a Wild Card spot. It doesn't help that they play in the NL East either.  They have good pieces and young talent abounding, but it remains to be seen whether they can tie it together to create a good team. They have the chops to compete for a Wild Card, but in a tough NL, with their overall lineup and pitching, it remains a mystery whether that will come to fruition. Maybe they want to save it for the new park.

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