Florida Marlins: 2011 MLB Season Preview

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Florida Marlins: 2011 MLB Season Preview
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

FLORIDA MARLINS 

Last Year: 80-82, 3rd in NL East  

Manager: Edwin Rodriguez

PROJECTED LINEUP 

C- John Buck (R) 

1B- Gabby Sanchez (R)

2B- Omar Infante (R)

3B- Donnie Murphy (R) 

SS- Hanley Ramirez (R)

LF- Logan Morrison (L)

CF- Chris Coghlan (L)

RF- Mike Stanton (R)

The Marlins definetly have some talent in this lineup, but the team will miss Dan Uggla's power. Hanley Ramirez is still the most dangerous player on the team. Ramirez still has 25 home run power and the ability to hit over .300 and steal 30 plus bases. The 27-year-old Gaby Sanchez will be moved to the fifth spot in the lineup though he is an ideal sixth place hitter. Sanchez's numbers are solid for any position on the field but are below average for a first baseman. Sanchez has 20 home run power and should put up a solid line of .275/.345/.455. The versatile Omar Infante will bat in the two hole and should hit .300 with 7-10 home runs and will be holding the spot for some of the franchise's prospects. Donnie Murphy will got the shot at 3B to start the season, but I don't envision him there for very long. My bet is that Dominguez gets called up some time this year. 

Marlins fans are excited to see what right fielder Mike Stanton can do with a full season in the majors. In 396 at-bats, Stanton hit 22 home runs, and I think he will hit anywhere from 35-40 home runs with with a .260/.340/.550 line. Stanton will strike out 30 percent of the time, but his power is worth it. Logan Morrison will bat in the lower half of the lineup after getting more than 200 ABs in the second half of last season. Check out Morrison's projected line in the breakout player section. Chris Coghlan will bat leadoff for the club after hurting his knee in a pie celebration last season. Coghlan struggled in his sophomore season after in impressive rookie campaign, and many are predicting numbers in between the two seasons. A .295/.360/.430 line and 10 home runs can be expected in this rebound season. Offensively, John Buck will be an upgrade of the group the Marlins had in the lineup for 2010. He won't have the same numbers he had in hitter friendly Rogers Centre, but he can help the Marlins with 15-18 home runs and .250-.270 average down in the bottom of the order. 

The Marlins were a below-average defensive team in 2010, and I think they will be worse in 2010. Chris Coghlan didn't play a great LF, and I think he will be even worse in CF coming off of knee surgery. Mike Stanton is the best defensive player the Marlins have, but he is negated in the outfield by the below average Logan Morrison. The team's only significant upgrade was John Buck behind the plate. Gabby Sanchez and Omar Infante are average on the right side of the infield, but Hanley Ramirez had a tough year in terms of range. Matt Dominguez should help him out one the left side with his above average glove and range. Overall, this is should be one of the league's poorer defensive units. 

BENCH

IF/OF- Emilio Bonifacio (S)

IF- Wes Helms (R) 

OF- Scott Cousins (L) 

C- Brett Hayes (R) 

OF- DeWayne Wise (L) 

STARTING ROTATION

RHP- Josh Johnson 

RHP- Ricky Nolasco 

RHP- Javier Vazquez 

RHP- Annibal Sanchez

RHP- Chris Volstad

The Marlins' rotation pitched fairly well in 2010 and it is the strongest component of this 2011 team. Josh Johnson has proved over the last two seasons that he is one of the top five starting pitchers in baseball. Johnson has great control, walking only 2.35 per 9 innings, and strikeout stuff. His 95 MPH fastball has tons of movement and he works a very good slider and average change off of it. Johnson will average almost a stirkeout per innings and with his excellent groundout and HR rates should make him a contender for the CY Young. The inconsistent Ricky Nolasco will start behind Johnson. Nolasco has the talent to be a consistent number two starter in this league, but he has been the recipient of some bad luck recently. His ERA has been 5.06 and 4.51 over the last two years but xFIP says that he should have been pitching at 3.28 and 3.55. His K/BB is an excellent 4.43 over the last three years, but he has been hurt by a low LOB percentage. I expect Nolasco to put up an ERA in he 3.75-3.90 range and K/BB of 4.

Javier Vazquez struggled in his return to New York because of his drop in velocity from 91.7 MPH in 2009 to 88.7 MPH in 2010. In some of those starts, Vazquez was throwing an 84-86 MPH fastball that PITCH/FX misleadingly called a change up. I don't think his velocity will come back, and it seems all the years of throwing 200 plus innings have caught up to him. No matter what, Vazquez will welcome the opportunity to return to the NL. Annibal Sanchez did well in his first full season in the majors throwing has best fastball in years (91.3 MPH). He relies heavily on his dominant slider, but he will mix his change and curveball effectively. I like his chances repeating similar numbers in 2011 with 7.5 K/9 and having a 3.50 ERA. Chris Volstad relies on his sinking fastball to induce groundouts, but he is BB, K, and HR rate have kept him from being a from being a reliable starter. He needs to work on his command and his HR rate if he is to improve. 

BULLPEN

RHP- Leo Nunez (Closer) 

RHP- Clay Hensley 

RHP- Ryan Webb

RHP- Edward Mujica  

LHP- Randy Choate  

LHP- Mike Dunn  

RHP- Burke Badenhop or RHP Brian Sanches 

The Marlins remade the bullpen in the offseason but the team decided to keep Leo Nunez as closer. Nunez had a good season in 2010, using his devastating change-up to strike-out 1 per inning and recording a 3.46 ERA. Nunez isn't one of the best, but he is cheap and can get the job done for the Marlins. Clay Hensley became Florida's main setup man after posting a 2.16 ERA. Hensley changed his approach by throwing his curveball more often. It was one of the more effective pitches during the season and transformed Hensley from mop-up man to setup man.

I like what the Marlins did with the rest of the bullpen by acquiring hard throwing Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica from the Padres. Both have decent control and Mujica will strikeout 8-9 per 9 innings. Ryan Webb, a groundball specialist, is the type of reliever the Marlins have lacked in the past. Randy Choate is a sidearming left-handed specialist who is tough on lefties, but gets killed by right-handed hitters. Mike Dunn will join Choate as the other lefty out of the pen. Dunn throws hard (avg 94.8 MPH) but his control leaves a lot to be desired. 

NOTABLE NON ROSTER INVITEES

RHP- Shawn Hill

IF/OF- Greg Dobbs (L)

IF- Ruben Gotay (S)

OF- Dewayne Wise (L) 

IF- Donnie Murphy (R) 

BREAKOUT PLAYER- Logan Morrison  

Logan Morrison has the ability to become a consistent .300 hitter for this Marlins team. While he does have the tendency to strikeout, he does possess wonderful plate discipline and the ability to get on base consistently. He isn't a power hitter, but I can see Morrison can hit to all fields and to the gaps. I see Morrison hitting close to .295/.390/.440 with 12-15 home runs this season. 

PROSPECT TO WATCH- 3B Matt Dominguez

Dominguez is considered the Marlins' top prospect, but there are questions concerning whether or not his bat is ready for the show. Defensively, he is considered above average and ready to make an impact. He has the ability to hit approximately 15 home runs but only expect a line around .250/.320/.400 in his first season. He might not be ready, but I say its worth the risk for the Marlins to throw him out there. 

PROJECTED FINISH- 3rd in NL East 

The Marlins have a good enough rotation and enough offense to make a run in the AL East. I don't think they will stay in it for the entire season, but the Marlins should finish above .500. The group has talent but the young players just are not ready yet to be a contender. The team has a good rotation, solid lineup, and improved bullpen. I get the feeling they will finish 3rd in this division, but crazy things have happened over the years.  

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