|Kat's Contemplations: The Florida Marlins||| Print |||Send|
Written by Katherina DiChristina (Contact & Archive) on August 24, 2003
There are no contraction talks, no dismantling the whole team, no relocating to other areas, none of that. You know what the buzz is? October. That's right, these fans are excited about October, seeing how there might actually be one in Miami for the first time since that dramatic game 7 win in 1997.
This team has a reason to hope for an October too, between having the most exciting rookie pitcher in the game in Dontrelle Willis, and having a guy who could have made a run at the MVP in Mike Lowell. (of course taking out the fact that the MVP is practically given to Barry Bonds every March) They have one of the most underrated players in baseball, in my opinion, in Juan Pierre. There is nothing he can't do. Pierre brings Gold Glove caliber defense to the ballpark every day, can steal a base on request, and is hitting above .300 for a team that is boasting pitching, not offense.
The Florida Marlins have one of if not the most exciting pitching staffs in baseball. Carl Pavano is finally showing naysayers what he can really do, Josh Beckett has come back from his annual blister problem to produce, Brad Penny should win many Cy Youngs before his career is over, and is compared with the likes of Jason Schmidt and Kerry Wood on his dominance of a game. Mark Redman was rescued from the lowly Tigers and has won 10 games; then you have Dontrelle Willis who needs no explanation. All of this without A.J. Burnett, another bright young star who already has a no hitter on his resume. 3 of their 5 starters have 10 or more wins. There are 18 teams that can't say that, namely the Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Giants, who brag of names like Schilling and Johnson, Martinez, Brown, and Schmidt.
Pudge Rodriguez obviously needs no introduction, 10 straight gold gloves, he has stolen 10 bases (that's right, a catcher who can run) and he is one of three players on the Marlins with .300+ batting averages standing in at .315 through August 17th. Against left-handers Ivan is batting a measly .398. I would say any team would and should be happy with just a guy like this, but no, the Marlins have a backup plan in their secret weapons Mike Redmond and Ramon Castro. Castro is my personal favorite, because he'll fill in and produce whenever you ask him to. He's the prototypical backup catcher, just better. He's batting .279, and is getting used very infrequently. Redmond also sticks out in my mind. Maybe the reason I recall Redmond so well is because he absolutely ate up every single offering by Tommy Glavine. He was batting .512 against him, which is, not a good thing for the Braves fan, when a backup catcher kills your ace.
Miami also has one of the most exciting players in Luis Castillo. Maybe I'm biased, but speed has always been the most thrilling thing for me. The players with speed are the ones that force the issue and usually hit with more consistency. One of the tried and true adages in baseball is 'Speed Never Slumps' and Luis Castillo definitely proves that to be true. He is hitting .318 and has more walks than strikeouts, critical for a lead off hitter. Castillo has 18 stolen bases, which is tied with Juan Encarnacion at second on the team to Juan Pierre's 57. Yeah I bet that stuck out to you. Any guy who steals 57 bases by August in this kind of era that is dedicated to the long ball, that'll jump out at you.
Miguel Cabrera is also a name worth remembering when focusing on rookies. He may not have had the longest shot to prove himself or get involved in the rookie of the year race, having been in only 50 games, but make no mistake, this kid is here to stay. He's batting .264, which doesn't mean a lot now, but he's a middle of the order kind of guy, a run producer. Look out for Cabrera, I guarantee you'll hear more from him in years to come.
I haven't even pointed out what an unbelievable story the Florida Marlins are, but never fear, the girly girl in me is here. They were going to be contracted, as I said earlier. Talks of relocation. Losing Preston Wilson, Charles Johnson, and the whole dismantling of their team came into play also. And this was all last year! Now they're thinking about October? It's like a dream story! They have a hero in Puerto Rican Mike Lowell, who is overcoming testicular cancer and a savior in Dontrelle Willis, who is supposedly single handedly putting fans into those so often barren seats.
With the pitching the Marlins have, there is no reason they can't go all the way. Provided they go ahead and win the wild card of course, and GET to October. The only thing possibly holding Florida back is the offense. Granted, they can have the big inning, with guys like Pierre, Castillo, Rodriguez, and Lee rounding out their order, but they strikeout too much. The rest of their season has a mix of rough stretches, and then seemingly easy ones. With upcoming series vs. the Giants, Colorado, and Pittsburgh, the rest is against the east. The Mets are surprisingly hot and could cause the Fish some problems along with the other cellar dwellers in the east.
The Marlins have a great shot to get to October and I hope they do; these are certainly not the same old Marlins.