Leading up to the start of the 2008 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 32 teams. Teams will be rated on a 10-point scale in the following 5 areas: Lineup, Pitching, Manager, Intangibles/Chemistry, and Overall. Today’s team is the Florida Marlins.
Diamond Hogger’s Florida Marlins blog of choice: Fish at Bat
This is a group that is going to suffer because they lost their center piece. The main course of the meal, Miguel Cabrera left town in a trade to Detroit (along with Florida’s other ‘star’ Dontrelle Willis). Marlins fans will be sad at that, and I would be as well; but you know in a few years some of the guys they got for Cabrera will be absolutle studs, like Hanley Ramirez and so on. The Marlins have done this forever. Then those players acquired for Cabrera will turn into studs and the Marlins will trade them to a large market team for more gem prospects. This will continue on forever. Kind of shit isn’t it? This is what the Reds have done but they have never gotten studs in return.
That means the new sheriff in town is Hanley Ramirez. He’s 24 years old this season, and he’s a legitimate big time superstar ballplayer night in and night out. He hit .332 next season in nearly 650 at-bats. Pitchers couldn’t get him out. He stole 51 bases. He just missed 30 home runs. This guy is the face of the franchise and they should lock him up long-term now. Ramirez deserves it and so do the fans of Miami. The organization could really show that they’re committed by making this move, you won’t find a stronger player all-around these days than Hanley Ramirez.
Other than Ramirez, they lack star-power. I like Hermida (Poor man’s Adam Dunn), Dan Uggla, and Josh Willingham enough; but they’ll really have to grow to make this team a contender. Cameron Maybin could be the next one in a long line of young superstars that have matured in Miami.
The best bets to pitch in the rotation would be Andrew Miller, Sergio Mitre, and Scott Olsen, but Rick VandenHurk Mark Hendrickson, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, and Jesus Delgado all could crack the rotation with good showings this March.
A couple of those guys (Olsen, Mitre) have upsides that I really like. I think Anibal Sanchez and Hendrickson have been effective for spells in the big leagues. Other than that, this isn’t a high-end group. They play in a tough division and these guys are going to get lineups around the National Leagues healthy on a regular basis.
The bullpen is not just the stronger half of the pitching staff on this team, it may be the Marlin’s strength as a team.
Maybe you’ve never heard of Kevin Gregg; and unless you lucked out and got him on your fantasy team last year that is quite alright. He converted 32 of 36 attempts last season as the Florida closer.
The key lefty is Taylor Tankersley. Other keys are Lee Gardner, Justin Miller, and Matt Lindstrom. Who? I know. In a few months, these guys might make a name for themselves in that Florida bullpen. They’re very solid.
Fredi Gonzalez was a rookie manager last season, winning 71 games and losing 91. Losing 91 games is never a good thing, but it wasn’t as if Florida was immensely talented. They figure to field a very similar team this year; so Gonzalez isn’t given much of a chance. He should improve on the 71 wins, but it won’t be easy.
I don’t know much about Gonzalez. I’m not going to beat around the bush. The Marlins could have found this guy in a back alley for all I know, and I’m too lazy to research about him. Due to anonymity, he gets an average score. He seems like Joe Maddon with less hype, if that is possible.
It’s difficult to build a ton of chemistry when half of your roster is turned over each offseason. They brought in some veterans in Jorge Cantu and Luis Gonzalez. They let go of Cabrera, Willis, Armando Benitez, Miguel Olivo, and Byun Hung-Kim. They’ll miss all but Kim.
Overall this young group that grows up together each summer seems to have up-beat character, but this is clearly more of a team built to re-tool than a team who is young and talented that can contend like the teams that Jack Mckeon managed.
The fan base is poor as far as ballpark turnout and you can’t blame them. Until the Marlins get a new stadium, it will never be a baseball town.
Florida has a young team, but only the true die-hards will invest their time and money into watching this group with any commitment. The new stadium is believed to be on the forefront, which is good news for the franchise. They’ll finally be able to build something that lasts in the form of a roster.
The themes for 2008 is to see Hanley Ramirez continue to blossom as the next big time shortstop, and see who else emerges. At best this is a .500 team.