30 Teams in 30 Days: Florida Marlins Preview

Marlins

Last Year: 87-75 (-6)
Over/Under: 81 (-115)

Notable Gains

  • Robert Bono
  • Luis Bryan
  • Hunter Jones

Notable Losses

  • Alfredo Amezaga
  • Luis Ayala
  • Jeremy Hermida
  • Nick Johnson
  • Matt Lindstrom

Three Things To Love

Light At The End Of The Tunnel: Jeffrey Loria has convinced everyone that once the Marlins christen the new Miami Ballpark in 2012 that the Marlins income issues will cease to exist. So, hang in there Marlins’ fans if he hasn’t driven you all away. You only have to wait two more years before your owner deems it appropriate to stop pocketing all his revenue sharing money and sign a few free agents.

Hanley Ramirez: The Marlins’ faithful can at least appreciate the fact that Hanley is the player that can make or break fantasy leagues across the nation. At the very least, there’s a pretty solid chance the Marlins won’t be trading him any time soon. They at least need one cornerstone player to open their stadium in 2012. Fans just have to hope the Marlin players remain good at self-motivation.

That Rotation: The Marlins enter spring training with six legitimate starting pitchers. Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco (despite Nolasco’s bloated ERA last year) are both legitimate top of the rotation starters. Anibal Sanchez, despite missing three months last year, has shown flashes of top of the rotation stuff. Besides that Chris Volstad, Sean West, and Andrew Miller should all compete this spring for the final two slots. The oldest guy in this rotation is 26. They all strike out 6.1 or better per nine innings. If they can get their control down, this is a lockdown rotation that could own the league for the next few years.

Three Things To Hate

Your Terrible, Terrible Owner: If I were a Marlin fan, it would drive me out of my mind how close this team is to being amazingly, jaw-droppingly good. It would further drive me insane how awesome the team is with a nearly-league-minimum payroll. Two or three smart free-agent contracts and this team contends for the division. It’s unbelievable that baseball rules exist such that an owner, who cries poverty while pocketing millions in revenue sharing money, can continue to just break the system. The fact baseball allows a team to put 4,000 people in seats per night, in a hugely Latin market, mind you, is embarrassing. Miami is sinking over $350 million in to a stadium for a team that might not have any fans left in 2012. It’s stunning how crooked this league can be.

Your Terrible, Terrible Stadium: Never, ever playing in front of a good home crowd has to screw with player’s heads. Guys like Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, and Josh Johnson have NEVER played in front of a raucous crowd at home. Maybe it’s like being born blind and they never knew what they were missing? They either play road games, home games where there are more fans for the road team, and home games in front of 4,000 people. In a FOOTBALL stadium. Thus far, the team has been great at keeping themselves motivated. Freddi Gonzalez deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor for that alone.

Your Bullpen: The good news is you got rid of a bunch of bullpen pitchers who had 11+ ERAs last year. The bad news is you replaced them with equally questionable properties. I know this is generally a problem for every single team, but turning over the entire bullpen is always a problem.

Three Things That Will Be Fun To Watch

1) What number the Marlins pick out of the air to present as the night’s attendance. Fun fact: The Marlins official average last season was 18,075. Anyone who watched one ballgame in that stadium knows the utter ridiculousness of that claim.

2) To steal from an earlier idea: watching the young rotation age and improve should be really fun for the 10 people left watching Marlins’ games. Johnson and Nolasco were must-watch players last year, even though Nolasco had something of a rough season. The Marlins do correctly everything the Pirates don’t do. Just another reason being a fan must be frustrating.

3) There is something to be said for watching young guys play baseball. I love that the Marlins are obscenely underrated every year and yet somehow convince themselves to stay engaged down the stretch by just not allowing teams to clinch divisions at their expense. They’re just a team full of young guys who elevate their game down the stretch run every year and, if rooting for them wasn’t directly bad for my team, I’d find myself hard-pressed not to root for them. The team on the field is the opposite of everything wrong with baseball. The owner, on the other hand, should be publicly flayed at the opening of the new stadium.

Summary: All the goodness aside, I think this is just going to be the season where the Marlins good fortune catches up with them. It’s got to mentally draining to do what they do every season; constantly playing in front of a football city that just doesn’t care about the baseball team that pisses on the city and just cost them $2.4 billion. My gut tells me this is the season where Fredi Gonzales just can’t do it anymore. 72-90, Under 81, 5th

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