Miami Marlins: Ranking 10 Biggest Ingredients for Locker Room Turmoil
As pitchers and catchers arrive for spring training, the team that is being talked about all around the league is the Miami Marlins. After finishing at the bottom of the NL East last year, the organization decided it was time for a change in multiple aspects.
With a new state-of-the-art ballpark completed where the Orange Bowl once stood, the Marlins brought in a new manager in Ozzie Guillen and a plethora of new players including Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano.
The Marlins also unveiled new uniforms to complete this bold transformation from a franchise that has yet to make a playoff appearance since their World Series Championship in 2003. With new faces coming in, it's going to be very tough for Guillen to keep control of the locker room.
Here are ranking the 10 biggest ingredients for potential locker room turmoil for this year's Miami Marlins.
10. The Arrival of Jose Reyes
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Perhaps the biggest splash the Marlins made this offseason was acquiring SS Jose Reyes from the New York Mets. After putting up one of his best statistical seasons as a pro, Reyes was the prime target the Marlins went after in free agency this year.
There was one problem: The Marlins already have one of the game's best SS in Hanley Ramirez. The Marlins also gave Reyes the most lucrative contact in the history of the organization, which will add to the pressure he will face. Reyes has obviously been able to endure expectations while playing in New York, but can he be the leader the Marlins paid him to be?
The team is also betting that injuries won't continue to be a factor in his production. In the past three seasons while with the Mets, Reyes missed a total of 191 games due to injury. Losing Reyes to that many games would greatly hurt the Marlins and force Ramirez to constantly switch from 3B to SS to cover for him.
9. Being Featured on "The Franchise"
Showtime recently announced that they will be featuring the Miami Marlins for the next season in their documentary series, The Franchise. The show will definitely provide entertainment to those who watch, but a lot comes with your every move being filmed. Team chemistry is going to be a key factor for the Marlins this season, and that may be hard to create with camera crews following around the players.
Another potential problem with this is that it may show all the flaws that would usually be kept secret behind closed doors. Other teams and organizations will be able to see the fights and scuffles behind the scenes and this may show the club's flaws.
The reality show may also give us a quick preview of how Hanley Ramirez really feels about moving to 3B, which may be something most Marlins fans might not want to see.
8. New Ballpark Means Higher Expectations
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This team will have to face expectations unlike any other Marlins team has in the past. The new ballpark and high offseason spending brings a sense of urgency to win now. In an already competitive NL East division, the Marlins' fan base and ownership will be looking for the team to compete at a high level right from the start.
Many of the core Marlins players returning from last year have never dealt with these type of expectations. As a usually low-budget spending franchise, the Marlins have taken an underdog role going into previous seasons.
Miami sports fans saw the toll that the Miami Heat took last year with their high expectations to win now. Will the same be said for the Marlins, who will have to deal with a number of new incoming All-Stars added to their roster this offseason?
7. Signing Mike Stanton to a Long-Term Deal
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The Marlins spent a ton of money this offseason and brought in key players to help move this franchise forward. Adding Reyes, Buehrle, Bell and Zambrano cost a ton of money, but the team have bigger fish to fry to lock up their main up-and-coming star.
With the recent decline in production from Hanley Ramirez, it's becoming more apparent to the organization that Mike Stanton will be the franchise player for years to come. In just his first two seasons, his offensive numbers show that he could become one of the game's best power hitters.
The problem with Stanton is that he is up for arbitration after 2013. The longer the Marlins go without signing Stanton to a deal, the more expensive he will get. If Stanton continues his progression and becomes the team's best offensive player, will he demand to get a deal done sooner than later?
Negotiating a long-term deal mid-season is never a good thing for any organization, but they may have no other choice when it comes to dealing with this sort of player.
6. Heath Bell and Juan Oviedo Bullpen
One of last season's most puzzling stories was when Marlins closer Leo Nunez was arrested in the Dominican Republic and accused of using a fake ID in order to sign a professional contact in the MLB. After losing their closer, the Marlins signed Heath Bell this offseason to fill in the void in the bullpen.
Bell has had three straight 40-save seasons with the San Diego Padres, but has shown some decline in his velocity as he will be turning 35 next season. The Marlins hope that Bell can provide leadership for their bullpen and help some of the younger arms develop.
Seemingly out of no where, the Marlins announced they reached a deal with a reliever by the name of Juan Oviedo. As of recently, Oviedo is now unable to report to the Marlins' camp because he is still working on obtaining a visa to return back to the United States. A little confusing to say the least, and there are definite questions if Oviedo can serve as a quality set-up man for Bell in the bullpen.
5. Gaby Sanchez Hurt by Pujols Pursuit
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Would you be upset if the team you played for publicly went after someone to replace you? Even after being named to the All-Star team last year, Gaby Sanchez had to watch as the Marlins pursued Albert Pujols relentlessly in trying to persuade him to come to Miami. Surely you can't blame a team for trying to sign arguably the game's best player, but it definitely left a sting in the relationship between Sanchez and the Marlins.
After all is said and done, will Sanchez be happy continuing to play 1B for the team? We don't know much on his feelings on the situation, but the Marlins will need to rekindle their relationship with the All-Star to avoid any sort of future trade demand.
It will be interesting to see how "The Franchise" will show Gaby's arrival to camp. The big question is, can both sides understand that the pursuit of Pujols was just business and agree to move on?
4. Ozzie Guillen
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We all know what Ozzie Guillen brings to the table. He is not afraid to speak his mind, get in his players' face and expect the absolute best from his team. There are plenty of questions if Guillen is the right man for the job, especially with how the Marlins' ownership have dealt with managers in the past. Since their Championship-winning season, the Marlins have been through four different managers, two of them lasting just one season (Joe Girardi and Edwin Rodriguez).
The Marlins fired the current Yankees manger Joe Girardi back in 2006 for his personal problems in dealing with team owner, Jeffrey Loria. Girardi has since lead the Yankees to a World Series Championship, which proves how valuable of a manager he is and that the decision to fire him was not based on his managing skills.
If the team had problems with a manger like Girardi, one can only imagine what the future holds with Ozzie.
3. Logan Morrison's off-Field Issues
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Logan Morrison is one of the more entertaining young players in the game. Not just because of his on field presence, but also his fame with twitter and his own version of the fad "Tebowing" called "LoMoing". A self proclaimed "Twittaholic", Morrison was sent down to the minors last year due many factors. Some believed it was his constant use of twitter, or it could have been because he missed a meet-and-greet with Marlins season ticket holders.
Even with his 92,000+ twitter followers, Morrison needs to understand his importance to the Marlins and their future success. The Marlins have been rumored to turn down numerous trade offers for Morrison. The Oakland A's wanted his name included in any offer for Gio Gonzalez earlier this summer but reportedly the Marlins said he was "off limits".
Will Ozzie Guillen be able to guide Morrison to his potential that the organization believes he can get to? Or will "LoMo" continue his off-field issues and possibly suffer another minor league demotion?
2. Carlos Zambrano and His Attitude
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When Theo Epstein took over the Chicago Cubs, there was a lot of speculation on what big moves he would make first to turn things around. Epstein wanted nothing to do with Carlos Zambrano, so much in fact that he traded the troubled SP to the Marlins and agreed to pay $15 million of the $18 million owed to him next season.
There is no doubt Zambrano has the skill set to be a quality SP for the Marlins, as he has won 10 or more games seven different seasons in his career. The risk is that he has a past of butting heads with players and losing his temper during games, which can create problems in any clubhouse. The Marlins have rolled the dice on this one and feel that even with a lesser roll as the fifth starter, his attitude won't be a problem.
Carlos Zambrano and Ozzie Guillen are both high-tempered people which could potentially create a ton of turmoil in the locker room. If Zambrano loses his cool, this could be a very bad decision on the Marlins part and make Epstein look even more like a genius.
1. Hanley Ramirez Switch to 3rd Base and Trade Rumors
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Before entering this offseason, Hanley Ramirez was lead to believe he was the cornerstone player of the Marlins franchise. He was the starting SS and a former All-Star who had a rough year with injuries and was looking for a bounce-back year to return to form.
Fast forward to present day and the Marlins have a new SS in Jose Reyes. With the signing, it was assumed that Hanley would move to 3B and be completely happy with giving his reigns over to Reyes. It's been reported that Ramirez is not happy will the move to 3B, while manager Ozzie Guillen says the team will adjust to the new order.
We still don't exactly know how Hanley feels about the position move. We don't know how he feels knowing that he has been replaced at his natural position, and that the team gave Jose Reyes the highest contract in team history.
There are now rumors going around about potential teams Hanley could be traded to. After such a successful offseason, the last thing the Marlins need is to be engulfed in trade rumors. The Marlins know the promise this line-up has with Ramirez and Reyes in the same infield, they just need Hanley to buy into it.
If you want to talk about a person who can absolutely ruin any sort of postseason run, Hanley is your man.