The Florida Marlins are feeling a little better about themselves lately due to the commitment of a retractable roof stadium to be built near the old Orange Bowl site. Now they just have to hang on until the thing is up and a reality. Until then it will be same old, same old...bring up players from their farm system, play them due to necessity and trade them away for more minor leaguers that can feed this process.
With their payroll being at the bottom of the MLB ladder, the Marlins can only afford one Super Stud a year and this year it's Hanley Ramirez who was found in the Red Sox system using their current plan of action.
The positive is that their scouts know what they are looking for in these kids...raw talent, attitude and tools to succeed at the major level. They have netted quite a few 'tweeners (players who can play multiple positions-but you wouldn't want them as an everyday starter) benchwarmers for injuries and fatigue.
The starting lineup is a mix of these minor league finds and players who are still on the cheap side of their contracts. Guys like Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin, Jeremy Hermida and Jorge Cantu. They are all quite capable players but no All-Stars here with the exception of Hanley.
Florida's pitching is pretty much cut from the same cloth with Ricky Nolasco taking over the Ace role after the annual purge trade-off that happens every winter and has become the norm for this treading water team.
They do (to their credit) come away with some talent and they get quantity in their deals. The pitchers are happy to make it up to the Bigs to show what they have to other clubs and the wheel keeps turning and churning.
With all of that taken under consideration, the start of their 2009 season should have them up around the top of their division with games against Washington Nats and the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates in April.
The Marlins also go to Atlanta where they give the Braves all they want and then some more. April goes out in a more realistic fashion as Florida hosts the World Champions Phillies and then travel to the revamped New York Mets and their new stadium.
All things considered, the Fish will be competitive if pitching holds up...(a big IF) and I look to see about 70-80 wins from this 2009 Marlins team.