Sunday, April 5, 2009
This is the biggest strength of the team. Most people would say the power hitting, but I disagree. The top three of the rotation has a chance to be great. Ricky Nolasco was an ace last year and sliding in right after him are Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad who had impressive half seasons last year and also have high ace potential. Even fourth and fifth starters Anibal Sanchez and Andrew Miller have ace potential, but because of where the lie in the rotation, they don't need to be all stars now, just decent.
This could be a trouble area. The lefties are a bit of a question mark and a lot of other pitcher's roles haven't been defined yet. Even closer Matt Lindstrom has a minor health concern and hasn't yet been a full time closer. There is plenty of talent in the organization and there is always the possibility of a move before the trade deadline but this should be the area to ay attention too.
Starting Position Players
The front office has a done a good job trying to get players who fit the philosophy of the organization. Gone is some power hitting, but in should be a better on base percentage and better small ball geared to win tight games. Hanley Ramirez may have a tough month or so adapting to the three-hole, but after that he should be a major run producer. The major question mark when it comes to the position players remains defense. Jorge Cantu slides over to first base and even though Emilio Bonifacio is new to third base, he should be an ugrade. Also the outfield should be improved with Cameron Maybin covering a lot of ground in center field.
This is another area of concern. Roles are undefined here and there is also a new face who wasn't even in the Marlin's spring training (Ross Gload). As Dave pointed out, the acquisition of Ronnie Paulino should allow for a nice platoon at catcher, but after that it gets foggy. Brett Carroll is the fourth outfielder, but as good as his defense is, he has yet to rove he can hit in the big leagues. It may once again be up to Alfredo Amezaga to be the man at literally every position.
The starting staff should kee the team in a lot of games and win a lot of games on their own. The offense should be pretty good but I do think there may be significant slump that you often see with young teams. Ultimately I think the club will win between 78-82 games and finish short of the division and wild card race. But that doesn't mean the season won't be fun. The mix of established players and young potential should be a joy to watch, as long as we don't act like we are a real baseball town or anything like that.