Key Additions—Javier Vazquez, Omar Infante
Key Losses—Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin
Lineup—Hanley Ramirez will continue to be the best shortstop in baseball and absolute stud in the middle of this lineup. As long as he can get along with teammates and his manager, he will once again be an All-Star. The problem with this lineup is after him they will rely on their youngsters having big years. I am talking about their outfield of Logan Morrison, Chris Coghlan, and Mike Stanton. If these guys can step up they give you a very good outfield to complement Hanley. Unfortunately the rest of the infield is very weak. Wes Helms has never blossomed into a hitter, and although Omar Infante was an all-star last year, that was a weak selection from the start. In a division where pitching is very strong from the contenders, I am afraid that young outfield will not be able to get the job done enough to allow this team to contend.
Rotation—Josh Johnson is a workhorse and absolute stud at the top end, and can be compared with the aces of any other staff. He will give you great outings nearly every time out and gives you a great chance to win every game. A big question is what Vazquez will give you? I think he will be good, like he was with Atlanta. He seems to thrive in the National League. Ricky Nolasco will settle in to be a solid #3 starter. At the back end, Chris Volstad and Anibal Sanchez provide you with good arms that should give you good consistency at the back end of the rotation. Although I don’t think this staff stacks up to the Phillies (who does?), I do think they are good enough to contend in this division.
Bullpen—The Marlins blew more saves last year (25) than any other team except for the Orioles. I will give them credit, they tried to fix it. But what did they do? They kept Leo Nunez as their closer, and added Randy Choate, Edward Mujica, Ryan Webb, and Mike Dunn. Nothing against these guys, but this bullpen will not get it done. I commend them doing an overhaul of their pen, but it is only a successful overhaul when you get guys who are better than what you had. Add this all up, and it means Josh Johnson and company is going to be seeing their great performances go down the drain once again. In the end, the pen will be the downfall of this team.
Impact Rookie—Matt Dominguez, 3B. The high school teammate of fellow first round pick Mike Moustakas, Dominguez possesses a glove that could play at an above average MLB level right now that could blossom into Gold Glove quality. He’ll have average power, but will struggle to maintain an adequate batting average unless he improves his plate discipline.
Outlook—I like the youth of this lineup, and think that outfield can be very good moving forward. I think this lineup is good enough to get the job done this year. And I love this rotation. You have dominant type pitchers, and guys who can give you tons of innings. But in the end, this bullpen will once again cause this team to falter. Last year the Marlins won 80 games although they blew 25 games. Granted you don’t lose all of those games, but that is such a huge number. It will happen again, and possibly cost this team a chance at postseason play.
Brad Koesters, MLB Correspondent
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