With the majority of the major offseason activity behind them (trading Dan Uggla, Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin; acquiring Omar Infante, Mike Dunn, Dustin Richardson, Ryan Webb, and Edward Mujica; signing Javier Vazquez John Buck, and Randy Choate; extending Ricky Nolasco until 2013), we take a glance at the potential Florida Marlins lineup, starting rotation, bullpen, and bench and put it all together to come up with bold predictions for the 2011 season in a crowded NL East. Let's take an early look at what we can expect to see from the fish in their final season at Sun Life/Land Shark/Dolphin(s)/Pro Player/Joe Robbie Stadium.
1: Chris Coghlan, CF (.295, 11 HRs, 65 RBIs, 15 SBs)
2: Omar Infante, 2B (.302, 8 HRs, 61 RBIs, 8 SBs)
3: Hanley Ramirez, SS (.321, 32 HRs, 101 RBIs, 31 SBs)
4: Mike Stanton, RF (.263, 38 HRs, 103 RBIs, 10 SBs)
5: Gaby Sanchez, 1B (.282, 23 HRs, 80 RBIs, 4 SBs)
6: Logan Morrison, LF (.275, 14 HRs, 73 RBIs, 3 SBs)
7: John Buck, C (.258, 13 HRs, 67 RBIs, 0 SBs)
8: Matt Dominguez, 3B (.244, 9 HRs, 59 RBIs, 1 SB)
Considering the poor season of Hanley Ramirez, he is due for a much better season in 2011 if history proves right. With Ramirez's regular season batting averages rising in odd numbered seasons and his motivation to improve, we'll expect to see an MVP caliber season out of him.
Mike Stanton's potent bat debuted in 2010 and he didn't disappoint, with 22 home runs in 100 games. In many ways, I see him has a right handed version of the Phillies' Ryan Howard, only an outfielder. He'll end up replacing Dan Uggla's power in the lineup and let's not forget he combined to hit 43 home runs between the minor leagues and major leagues last season.
Omar Infante batting ahead of Hanley Ramirez should give him the numbers he has had the past couple of seasons when he was with the Atlanta Braves. As for Matt Dominguez, if he ends up getting the third base job, don't expect spectacular numbers out of him considering he isn't very polished offensively as he is with the glove.
1: Josh Johnson (21-9, 2.87 ERA)
2: Ricky Nolasco (13-8, 3.73 ERA)
3: Javier Vazquez (12-10, 3.46 ERA)
4: Anibal Sanchez (15-8, 3.29 ERA)
5: Chris Volstad (13-11, 4.25 ERA)
The Marlins have no question marks with their starting rotation entering the season for the first time since perhaps 2004 when they had Josh Beckett, AJ Burnett, Dontrelle Willis, Brad Penny, and Carl Pavano in their rotation. This season, they have a solid assortment of five starters with no empty fourth of five slots up for grabs like the past few seasons, where it seemed like the biggest question on the team.
These projections are considering the players stay healthy for the majority of the season, which will be a major challenge for a team that had injuries to Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco last season.
John Baker, C
John Baker is returning from Tommy John surgery and he isn't expected to be a full-time starter in 2011 after the team signed John Buck to a three year deal in the offseason. Baker is expected to be the team's left handed bat off the bench, with occasional starts here and there.
Scott Cousins, OF
Cousins has the potential to be the everyday center fielder for the Marlins if he plays well in Spring Training, but he might play himself into the team's fourth outfielder spot and another left handed option off the bench.
Wes Helms, 1B/3B
In what may be his final season in the big leagues, Helms has nothing to lose and he might go all in, this being his swan song. He is expected to be the starter's breather and pinch hitter next season.
Emilio Bonifacio, Utility
Bonifacio heads into 2011 being the team's primary pinch runner off the bench. He is perhaps the fastest player in the Major Leagues today but hasn't shown it in the numbers.
Osvaldo Martinez, 2B/SS
Martinez played well replacing Hanley Ramirez last season after the injury and had good minor league numbers. He can play himself into a possible defensive substitution in the late innings but nevertheless he has nothing else to prove in the minor leagues (.302, 5 HRs, 54 RBIs in AA Jacksonville).
Leo Nunez, R
Clay Hensley, R
Ryan Webb, R
Mike Dunn, L
Randy Choate, L
Brian Sanches, R
Edward Mujica, R
The closer's job is going to come down to Hensley or Nunez and at this point, it's Nunez's job to lose in Spring Training. Who ever loses that job will then likely become the setup man to the closer with Brian Sanches splitting the duties in the eighth.
The team will be relying on their newly acquired bullpen with an exceptional control pitcher in Edward Mujica (72 strikeouts to six walks in 69 2/3 innings in 2010), Ryan Webb (2.90 ERA in 59 innings), and left-handed specialists Mike Dunn and Randy Choate.
Occasional Callups: Steve Cishek, Dustin Richardson, Burke Badenhop*, Alex Sanabia*, Sean West*
* : Replacement starter/spot starter/long reliever
Mike Stanton will win a Gold Glove
Considering the return of Perry Hill and the fact that Stanton quietly had an impressive defensive showing in 2010 (10 outfield assists in 98 games last season, which ranked second and second in range factor and zone runs in the NL), his bat should attract attention enough for the experts to notice his hot glove and arm and give him Gold Glove distinction.
Marlins will finish second in the NL East
The Florida Marlins have revamped their bullpen and have a solid rotation whereas the heavy favorites for second, the Braves, have a question mark for the fifth spot which could end being juggled between a few guys in the season. The Braves are heading into their first season without Bobby Cox and while they did get Dan Uggla, their defense only gets worse which the Marlins have learned is one reason they didn't go to the postseason last season.
Hanley Ramirez will be in Top 3 in MVP Voting
If the Marlins are to make any strides in 2011, Hanley Ramirez will be on top of it and he is expected to breakout. If you saw the projected stats, Ramirez will end up in the top 3 with a .300-30-100-30 season no doubt.
Josh Johnson will win the Cy Young Award
If Josh Johnson hadn't gotten injured and had JJ gotten more run support, therefore giving him more wins than losses and no decisions, then maybe he would have challenged Roy Halladay even though there is no denying Halladay was the better pitcher last season. Josh Johnson will need to be overpowering and he'll need some help to get the elusive pitcher's award.