2006 Finish: 78-84, 4th place in the NL East, 19 games back
Manager: Freddi Gonzalez, first year as a manager
Comings: 3B Aaron Boone, Matt Lindstrom, Kevin Gregg,
Goings: Manager Joe Girardi, Closer Joe Borowski, 3B Wes Helms
Offense: 3B Miguel Cabrera is a perennial MVP canidate. Last year was the same, hitting .339, 26 HRs, and 114 RBIs. He can be inconsistent defensively and seems to let bad at bats affect his play in the field. SS Hanley Ramirez came over from Boston and went out and won the Rookie of the Year award. Ramirez hit .292, 17 HRs, and 59 RBIs in the leadoff spot. He also stole 51 bases and had 11 triples. His biggest weakness is the strikeout. Last year he struck out 128 times to only 56 BBs. 2B Dan Uggla might have been the biggest surprise in baseball. Not only was he a Rule 5 pick that started for his team, but he led the Marlins with 27 HRs. He hit .282 and had 90 RBIs. He, too, strikes out to much, 123 Ks to 48 BBs. 1B Mike Jacobs was another rookie that had a sensational debut. Jacobs hit 20 HRs and had 77 RBIs. Like the other Marlin rookies mentioned, he strikes out too much. RF Jeremy Hermidia was a preseason canidate for Rookie of the Year. He got injured in only 99 games and never appeared find his groove. Look for better things from him this year. LF Josh Willingham yet another Marlin’s rookie with a big debut season. He hit .277 with 26 HRs and 74 RBIs. And you guessed it, he struck out too much. C Miguel Olivo had a respectable year offensively, .263, 16 HRs, and 58 RBIs. He is more valubable defensively, where he provides good leadership for this young Marlin’s staff. Alex Sanchez seems to be the centerfielder by default. He has blazing speed but has never been able to put together a good year. Also, with his speed you would think he would be a better fielder, but he is below average in the outfield. Aaron Boone will be brought in to be used in the utility role that was handled by Wes Helms. Helms’ leadership role will be missed.
Rotation: LHP Dontrelle Willis is the face of the franchise and is hoping to bounce back from a 12-12 record. LHP Scott Olsen was very good in his debut season going 12-10 with a 4.04 ERA. Another rookie, RHP Josh Johnson, was even more impressive with a 12-7 record and an ERA of 3.10. He will miss at least the first two months with an arm injury. RHP Anibal Sanchez pitched a no hitter. He went 10-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 18 games, 17 of those starts. RHP Rick Nolasco was also a rookie and went 11-11. RHP Sergio Mitre was not good posting an ERA over 5.
Bullpen: The closer role is up in the air. The Marlins are rumored to be in on both Jorge Julio and former Marlin Armando Benitez. LHP Taylor Tankersley posted a 2.85 in 49 games and is the projected closer if the Marlins don’t make a deal. He has 3 career saves and has been injured this spring. LHP Renyel Pinto was 3.03 in 27 games. RHP Matt Lindstrom, who should make his major league debut, has hit 100 on the radar gun. He does seem to walk a lot of hitters so control is an issue. He has pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings this spring. RHP Kevin Gregg came over from the Angels and provides quality innings. He has pretty good stuff but has not been able to be consistent. RHP Henry Owens has not allowed a run this spring.
Brett Sinbeil-RHP-Drafted in the first round of the 2006 First Year Player Draft (19th overal). Drafted by the Cardinas in the 38th round of the 2003 draft but did not sign. Went on to attend Missouri State University. Missed three weeks durinng the 2006 college season with a strained oblique. Has a fastball that can reach 95. He has an above average slider that he will throw in any count. Dominated in the New York-Penn league, posting a 1.23 ERA and striking out 22 in 22 innings. Promoted to Low A and struggled, finishing with a 4.99 ERA.
Sean West-LHP-Stands 6’8″. Had elbow surgery in the last week that will probably cost him this season. West missed a month last season due to shoulder problems. Throws 91-94 touching 96 from a 3/4 arm slot. Was considered to be on the fast track but that will have to wait until next year.
Analysis: This team defied expectations last year and was in the playoff hunt until the last week of the season. I wonder how the young Marlin players are going to react to Girardi not being brought back. The kids seemed to rally around him. Another thing, will these guys go into a sophmore slump, ala the 2006 Cleveland Indians. The starting pitching is young and talented, the offense is exciting and explosive, and the bullpen is in shambles. The centerfield situation is also a glaring weakness on a really talented team. I really feel this team will take a step back before it takes another step forward.