Filed by: Brad Koesters – Prospect Junkies MLB Corrospondant
Key Additions—Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell, Ozzie Guillen, Carlos Zambrano
Key Losses——-Javy Vazquez,
Lineup—I don’t think any team was talked about more than the Marlins, who are changing their name from Florida to Miami and moving into a new stadium. The Jose Reyes acquisition not only gave them a true leadoff hitter, but allowed them to upgrade at 3b as well with Hanley Ramirez moving over to play that position. These 2 make up arguably the best left side of the infield in the league. The right side is just okay, but imagine if they would have gotten Albert Pujols. Wow. But they will settle with Gabby Sanchez. The outfield has potential with Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton, and I expect them to produce quite a bit. If Morrison can keep his head on he should be a solid contributor, and Stanton has big time power and should be an effective middle of the order bat. All in all I like this lineup, but still can’t stop thinking about what could have been.
Pitching—I think Buehrle is one of the most underrated acquisitions of the offseason. He is the kind of guy who makes the rest of the staff better, as you know he is going to pitch 200 innings and give the bullpen a break. I don’t think people realize either that Josh Johnson only pitched 60 innings last year, so basically it was like you acquired a #1 and #2 this offseason. I expect him to be back strong this year and to his old self. Even the back end of this rotation has the chance to be pretty good. Annibal Sanchez is a very good #3, and Ricky Nolasco can be a above average pitcher in the 4 hole. The trade of Carlos Zambrano is low risk, high reward. Guillen is just the type of manager that Zambrano may need to turn it around. Signing Heath Bell gives them stability on the back end, but the rest of the bullpen is suspect. However, I am not sure that will be as big of an issue with this team, as they have starters that will go deep into games. I expect Bell to be among the league leaders in saves, and this team to really be a factor in the NL.
Outlook—If the Marlins were trying to make a big splash going into the new stadium, they have done it very well. They added the right players to the mix, and the right manager for these players. I really believe that Guillen will get the best out of guys like Zambrano, Reyes, Ramirez, etc. With the injury problems that the Phillies are having, I really think the door is open for someone else to take the NL East. Could it be the Marlins, I think it is a good possibility.