The Florida Marlins are dead. Long live the Miami Marlins.
The always-entertaining Ozzie Guillen is the new manager, and he’ll lead his team onto the field in a beautiful new park—creatively called Marlins Ballpark until naming rights are sold.
It will be a dramatically better place to watch baseball than their former football-field home, and with a small capacity of just 37,000 fans there is a good chance that even the apathetic Miami fans can fill it up—or at least make it seem like there are people watching—far more often than they used to.
So, the future is bright off the field. How does it look on the field? Well, they have work to do, but there is no shortage of optimism. Let’s take a look.
2012 Miami Marlins predictions and MLB futures odds (odds are from BetOnline)
2011 Record: 72-90
2012 Wins Over/Under: 82.5
Odds to Win 2012 NL East: +650
Odds to Win 2012 NL Pennant: +750
Odds to Win 2012 World Series: +1400
The Marlins may have some things to worry about, but pitching shouldn’t be one of them—at least not if they can stay healthy.
Their ace, Josh Johnson, is easily one of the best pitchers in the National League, and there is no reason to expect that to change this year. He’s an elite talent.
Behind him are two established members of the Miami rotation and two free-agent acquisitions who should be happy to get into a warmer climate.
First, the established guys.
Anibal Sanchez is a pitcher I like, and his 8-9 record last year is not at all indicative of his capability. He’s entering his prime and should have a good year.
Ricky Nolasco is only a year older than Sanchez and he could be in for a nice year. He gave up far too many hits last year, though, so he needs to get that back under control.
The team made a splash this offseason by taking one guy off the roster of each Chicago team.
From the White Sox they took Mark Buehrle. He’s an easy guy to slot in as the second starter and trust, and he has a long and strong relationship with Guillen.
He’s a great addition.
Carlos Zambrano, from the Cubs, is more of a risk if only because he’s such a mental case. The new surroundings should be good for him, though, and if Guillen can get through to him, he is a very capable pitcher.
All-in-all, this rotation is one that will really help this team out. The biggest thing they have going for them, though, is probably the stability.
With no real questions to answer other than how the bottom three slot into the rotation, it allows the guys to focus on their task at hand and get ready for a big year.
The rotation isn’t the only place this squad has dished out cash this offseason. The new stadium has signaled a new era for the notoriously cheap Marlins.
The biggest expense was the addition of shortstop free agent, Jose Reyes.
The former Met was the National League batting champ, so he obviously doesn’t hurt the offense. He does force Hanley Ramirez over to third base, but A-Rod has shown us that such a move isn’t a terrible one.
As long as Reyes and Ramirez can co-exist peacefully this will be a much-improved offensive team.
They need to be—they outscored only seven teams last year on the season, and that’s a big part of the reason why they won just 72 games.
A player to watch is a guy who goes by many names. You probably know the young right fielder as Mike Stanton, but this year he’ll be going by his preferred name of Giancarlo.
Whatever you want to call him you can’t question his talent.
He turned 22 in November and already has 56 career home runs. Only Alex Rodriguez with 56 and Ken Griffey Jr. with 60 have matched that production before their 22nd birthday. That’s certainly not bad company.
The question now is whether Giancarlo can keep moving forward and maintain his momentum this year.
Left fielder Logan Morrison is another guy to watch.
In his third year, the fan favorite has loads of potential, but he needs to hit a lot more like he did as a rookie than he did last year. He’s a confident guy, and seems like just the type that Guillen will be able to connect with.
All-in-all, this is an improved offense that has a chance to be really solid if the young players can carry the burden and if the players on the left side of the infield can do what they are capable of.
Jose Reyes hit .337 last year, but that was his first time hitting over .300 since his rookie year in 2003, and his career average is .292.
He was clearly motivated by his free agency.
How he handles being rich and being a star with massive expectations on his shoulders is a huge question for his team.
It’s a free-agent signing that could go either way. The Marlins could look like geniuses or they could be a case study for how not to pick free agents.
2012 Miami Marlins Predictions
I like a lot about this team.
Josh Johnson is back and healthy. Zambrano and especially Buehrle are nice additions to the rotation. The bullpen is solid. The infield should be very good in the field and at the plate. Their young talent is impressive.
They have all sorts of momentum thanks to the building and the manager. All of that has led to a lot of hype.
I’m not suggesting they will win it all or anything. However, they are moving in the right direction, and I expect them to be a team that contends for the playoffs right up to the end.
I’d like them even more if there wasn’t so much volatility—Guillen, Zambrano, and Reyes are all guys who can listen to their hearts over their heads at times.
2012 Miami Marlins MLB Season Win Totals Predictions
This team certainly has the potential to finish comfortably above .500. The ‘over’ is heavily favored. While I don’t think it’s an absolute lock, it is definitely the side that should be drawing most of the attention. It’s the right play here, though not one with a lot of value.
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