National League East Previews: Marlins
2 March 2011
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Today’s focus: Florida Marlins
2010 Record: 80-82, 3rd Place NL East (tied for 8th in NL)
The Marlins have now played 8 seasons since winning the second of their two world championships and in their 18 seasons overall, they still have never won their division. In contrast, the Phillies have played 128 and won the same number of titles. All this is to say, the Marlins are very good at catching lightning in a bottle and also very good at letting it walk out the door the next year to remain within their modest payroll. The Marlins have been stringing more and more keys to their kite the past few years with the emergence of Josh Johnson, Chris Coghlan, Mike Stanton, and Logan Morrison to add to the star power of Hanley Ramirez.
The Marlins did however trade away their biggest slugger in Dan Uggla to their rivals to the North the Atlanta Braves, getting much less in return in the form of Omar Infante and Michael Dunn. The Fish shored up their woeful bullpen and added a little pop behind the plate in the form of John Buck, but the big question remains, who in the starting rotation will step up behind Johnson? Will Javier Vazquez find his groove again in the comfy confines of the NL? Are Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez ready to take the next step towards being more than just serviceable? A late breaking question mark is the extent of injury to projected clean up hitter Stanton’s quad which he strained running the bases in his first Spring game.
Notable Losses: Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin, Ronny Paulino
Notable Pickups: Javier Vazquez, John Buck, Omar Infante, Michael Dunn
Bottom line, the Marlins continue to be what they have been for the past three seasons – a young scrappy team that likes to play spoiler and give teams like the Phillies and Braves fits. Until their new stadium is open and they can attract more than a handful of fans, they will lack the budget to assemble a team that can compete with the top dogs. Unless of course lighting strikes for a third time. They have to look no further than last years World Champs to see it can happen where you least expect it.
Prediction: 84-78, 3rd place NL East