With the Preseason in full swing, Diamond Hoggers will attempt to forecast several aspects of each team in baseball. Before Opening day we plan to have a pretty good outline of what you’ll be seeing in 2007. Today we take our hacks at the Florida Marlins:
Predicted Finish: 78-84 (4th place NL East)
Projected Stats: Willis (15-8, 3.68 ERA), Mitre (12-8, 3.90 ERA), A. Sanchez (13-10, 4.11 ERA), Josh Johnson (14-6, 3.41 ERA), Nolasco (4-8, 4.26 ERA, 21 Saves) Cabrera (.321, 40 HR, 123 RBI), Hanley Ramirez (.302, 21 HR, 84 RBI), Dan Uggla (.295, 22 HR, 92 RBI), Willingham (.268, 13 HR, 58 RBI), A. Boone (.255, 14 HR, 56 RBI), Mike Jacobs (.279, 20 HR, 73 RBI), Hermida (.250, 15 HR, 65 RBI)
Biggest Storyline: What young stud talent will emerge out of nowhere this season? In seasons past it was guys like Willis, Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, and Dan Uggla. Who will be the next young star on this team? How long can the Marlins compete with good teams like the Mets, Braves, and Phillies?
Strengths: The scouting department of this organization continues to impress. One young talent after another quickly gets to the minor leagues and develops quickly and sustains success. If this team had more salary cap spending on it’s players, it would be contender year in and year out. The farm system is an A+, seemingly never running out of fresh goods. Miguel Cabrera could be the best young hitter in baseball not named Albert Pujols or Grady Sizemore. Dontrelle Willis would be a 20 game winner on a better team, but could still find his way there with good run support and defense behind him. Look for good sophmore years from Uggla and Hanley Ramirez, who should define this team up the middle for the next 5 years at least. We’re high on Ramirez as a player.
Weaknesses: Miami struggled to get a new stadium approved. This team has struggled the past few years since its World Series win over the mighty Yankees in 2003. It’s tough to build a fan base and an organization when you don’t know if you will be there from year to year. The team owner Huizenga is a cheap-skate. He needs to shell out some big time money to this young talent, lock them up lock term and build around them. With the way this team finds talent and competes and battles in a tough division every year, you’ve got to support them. I’m about sick of hearing the Willis and Cabrera trade rumors, this franchise would be stupid to let them go anywhere else. Too much youth might hurt them in a division where experience is trump.