|Marlins Have Chance in Rough NL East||| Print |||Send|
Written by Joshua Kay (Contact & Archive) on March 27, 2012
The NL East has gotten much better this season, thanks to moves by the Nationals and the "new look" Miami Marlins to improve their rosters into "win now" mode. The most dangerous of those teams is the Marlins.
With two World Series Championships, the Marlins have been a successful sports franchise since their inception as an expansion team in 1993; however, they have only been to the playoffs twice. Both resulted in Championships, (1997, and 2003).
The Marlins have never won the division, and I don't expect it to be this year, but it's not a crazy possibility. With a newly stacked lineup, and a healthy (for now) pitching staff, this team is comparable to a freight train that hasn't left the yard. I really feel this team could be close to unstoppable if it plays up to its ceiling, but the Marlins could also crash and everything would go up in flames.
Let's look at the new look lineup for the Marlins:
1. Jose Reyes- SS
With Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder now in the American League, the Marlins could very well have the best offense (at least for a ceiling) in the National League. With Reyes and Bonifacio at the top of the lineup, look for Ozzie Guillen (who loves the stolen base) to let his speedsters wreak havoc on the base-paths.
The brand new ballpark should also play to the Marlins' strengths. It is supposedly a massive ballpark that is averse to hitters and home run power, but if there is one player that no ballpark can hold it's the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton. Built like a G.I. Joe action figure, Stanton has endless power and could hit 50 HR playing 162 games in PETCO Park, and if the Marlins' new ballpark plays like Citi Field (prior to this year with fences being brought in), it could mean triples galore for Reyes, Bonifacio, and Hanley Ramirez.
Everyone has been talking about Hanley Ramirez's move to third base and rightfully so. However, most of the stories have been on Ramirez's attitude about the transition (also rightfully so).
What seems to get lost is the fact that Ramirez and Reyes could become one of, if not the most elite side of an infield defense ever. Both Ramirez and Reyes are incredible athletes in the prime of their careers with great defensive range and strong arms. But can the dynamic duo work together? I say yes. Add in the speed of Bonifacio roaming center field, and Stanton's cannon arm, and this defense could be just as formidable as their offense come year end.
With Josh Johnson being shut down for the remainder of the season after having arm issues last year, the Marlins began to fall out of contention after what was a great start. This spring Johnson looks great and appears to be fully healthy, so he really isn't going to be the deal breaker.
Instead, I look toward Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez. Both of these two pitchers have teased us constantly over the past few years with their upside but have always fallen short.
Nolasco seems far too hittable to ever become elite, (3.9 K/BB past two years as an average) but a three-year .330 BABIP suggests that he needs an improved fastball. High line drive rates have been a bugaboo for him forever and unfortunately we can't bank on that to change; but that doesn't leave out the possibility.
Anibal Sanchez, on the other hand, is a guy with quality stuff, but who could never reign in the strike zone. Now sporting a career high 9.3 K/9 and BB/9 of 2.9, Sanchez saw his xERA drop to 3.27 which is also a career best. If Sanchez can hold those improvements, it will be huge for this Miami Marlins team.
Further expectations can include an improvement of Mark Buehrle's numbers due to the switch from US Cellular to the new Marlins park, and maybe even better numbers for the declining Heath Bell.
The bullpen is filled with solid arms in Steve "he sells seashells by the seashore" Cishek, Edward Mujica and LOOGY Randy Choate. They just need to be used correctly.
The Marlins are a very dangerous and talented team. If Ozzie Guillen can reign in the attitudes of Carlos Zambrano, Ramirez and twitter superstar Logan Morrison, this team will go places. It could also explode into flames and finish only five or so games ahead of the Mets.