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2006 Florida Marlins Baseball Preview

Florida Marlins Predictions – NL EAST

OVERVIEW:

Since joining the league 13 years ago, the Florida Marlins have won two World Series. Within a few years of becoming champs, they’ve recklessly dismantled both of those teams. The last time they won it all was 2003; after the 2005 season the Marlins were gutted.


PITCHING:

Two very fine pitchers, Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett, have both gone to colder climes. In total seven pitchers are now on other teams. Todd Jones, the Marlin’s closer who had 40 saves and a 2.10 ERA, is now in Detroit.

Joe Borowski, who had been a great closer for the Cubs before suffering a torn rotator cuff, may be Florida’s new closer. Unless the team decides to go with any one of three minor leaguers. In any case, fans will probably be chanting for Jones to come back.

Dontrelle Willis, the team’s ace, posted 22 wins last season as he threw 236.1 innings and mowed down 170 batters. He should be impressive again, giving fans about 16 select home games where they can see him pitch.

The rest of the rotation is simply too scary and unpredictable to even consider.

HITTING:

Florida led the National League in batting last season, with a club average of .272.

They now have a new lineup that may be potent, but most are untested, so it’s tough to tell. Rookie Jeremy Hermida (.293 BA in limited action last season) showed a wealth of potential in 2005 and Miguel Cabrera (.323 BA, 33 HR, 116 RBI) offered consistency in 158 games.

Numerous other players hit over .300 last year, but together they didn’t play in enough major league games to string together an entire season.

Most of this team saw AAA and AA pitching for the majority of the 2005 season. Ah, youth!

DEFENSE:

Of course most of the fielders are rookies and two Gold Glove guys, third baseman Mike Lowell and second baseman Luis Castillo, are gone.

Veteran Pokey Reese, who’s a stable fielder capable of outstanding plays, has come on board after missing a year due to injury. He played 2 games of AA ball last season.

Players with a lot of potential such as shortstop Hanley Ramirez, Mike Jacobs, and Hermida have gone directly from AA ball to MLB. Prospects are just that before they pan out; and most prospects, no matter how highly they’re touted, do not pan out.

MANAGER AND FRONT OFFICE:

• Team president David Samson’s called his careless destruction of his ball club a “market correction.” Yes, and WWII was a “skirmish.”
• Joe Girardi is on board as the new manager. By the way, they decimated the team “after” Girardi was hired. SURPRISE, Joe!
• Owner Jeffrey Loria may be the Anti-Steinbrenner considering how he doesn’t spend money.

INTANGIBLES AND/OR OTHER STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES:

• They want a new stadium for baseball but can’t get it—very distracting.
• Girardi was a bench coach for the Yankees; he knows how to deal with tough situations.
• Have to think about the Chicago Black Sox—Loria gets a $30 million windfall from revenue sharing and cuts payroll. Wow, what’s history tell us about cheap owners?

CONCLUSION:

If nothing else, this will be an interesting season in Florida. It could be more of a soap opera than anything else, as the fate of the team is determined by an owner who wants a new stadium, doesn’t want to spend money, and is looking to move to perhaps San Antonio or Vegas. Owner Jeffrey Loria may be hearing the echoes of Horace Greeley’s enthusiastic suggestion, “Go west young man, go west!”

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