NL East: Florida Marlins Preview and Prediction
Projected Starting Lineup and Bench
LF: Chris Coghlan
C: John Baker
SS: Hanley Ramirez
2B: Dan Uggla
3B: Jorge Cantu
RF: Cody Ross
1B: Logan Morrison
CF: Cameron Maybin
Bench: C Ronny Paulino, 1B-3B Wes Helms, 2B-3B Emilio Bonifacio, OF Brett Carroll, IF Gaby Sanchez
SP: Josh Johnson
SP: Ricky Nolasco
SP: Anibal Sanchez
SP: Sean West
SP: Chris Volstad
CP: Leo Nunez
RP: Derrick Turnbow, Seth McClung, Jose Veras, Renyel Pinto, Taylor Tankersley, Burke Badenhop
The Marlins have been the "surprise" team of the NL East over the last four years or so.
I am not sure how long a team can go on winning and still be considered a "surprise" team, but I am pretty sure that most prognosticators will be surprised again by these Fish.
I have been an advocate of the NL East being the best division in baseball over the last five years or so and have had numerous debates over this topic (The AL East had pretty stiff competition too).
But I think the Marlins are the reason the NL East is the toughest division in baseball.
This offseason, the Marlins didn't make too many changes.
The only additions of note have been in the bullpen.
The Marlins added Derrick Turnbow, Seth McClung and Jose Veras.
Other than those signings, the biggest "moves" the Marlins have made were resigning Josh Johnson to a long-term deal and bringing back Dan Uggla for at least one more year.
The biggest question for the Marlins entering the 2010 season is who will play first base and who will play third base?
The Marlins hope that Logan Morrison will win the first base job in spring training, but Gaby Sanchez will also be fighting him for the starter's role.
At third base, Jorge Cantu will be penciled in as the starter. But Jorge Jimenez, the Marlins rule 4 draft pick from the Boston Red Sox , will try and make an impression with the Marlins coaching staff.
Florida may move Cantu to first base if Jimenez proves he can start for the Marlins this season.
However, if Jimenez and either Morrison or Sanchez play well enough during spring training, it may push the Marlins front office to trade Cantu or Uggla.
There is a strong possibility the Marlins could be starting rookies at first base and third base in 2010.
The pitching staff is another big question mark. The staff has great talent but is made up of mostly very young and unproven talent.
If everything goes well, the Marlins pitching staff could be dominant.
But a baseball season, like life, never goes perfectly.
I think we can reasonably expect the Marlins pitching staff to look dominant some days and to look clownish on others.
The offense will hit for power and some days will put up impressive numbers. But on most days, the lineup will not produce enough to win.
However, I do expect the Marlins to be more consistent this year than in years past.
The pitching staff will be a touch more reliable. The offense will play more evenly from day-to-day, with less highs but far less lows, as well. As I said yesterday with the Braves, the Marlins are a good team.
But the Marlins are not good enough to realistically compete in the NL East. I expect them to finish fourth in the division in 2010.
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