The Marlins decided to dump their team during and after the 2012 season and go full rebuild mode. The fact that the organization has done this multiple times since its inception in 1993 has upset the loyal fans and followers of the team as well as baseball purists who want to see a competitive balance. The future of this team does look bright, but 2014 looks like another tough season as the younger players continue to move up the ladder and come of age. The Marlins of 2013 went 62-100 under first year manager Mike Redmond. The team has some exciting young players such as 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez and of course, Giancarlo Stanton. They traded OF Logan Morrison to the Mariners to get RHP Carter Capps and also lost let free agents Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre go. They traded OF Justin Ruggiano to the Cubs for Brian Bogusevic. They also added free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 1B Garrett Jones and 2B Rafael Furcal. The key for the Marlins will be the development of their young starting pitchers other than Fernandez, who should be a given. Henderson Alvarez, Jacob Turner, Tom Koehler and Alex Sanabia all have a lot of upside and can form a legit rotation. If so, they can win some games.
Fernandez gives the team an ace. He burst on the scene last year, going 12-6, 2.19 in 28 starts, striking out 187 batters in 172 2/3 IP and deserved his All Star selection. I feel Turner has the most upside of the other starters and he should certainly build on his 3-8, 3.74 in 20 starts. If he does, he is the number two.. no questions asked. Henderson Alvarez (5-6, 3.59 in 17 starts) pitched well when he was healthy and threw a no hitter in 2013. Nathan Eovaldi (4-6, 3.39 in 18 starts) should be the number 4 starter is all works out as expected. The 5th spot should be interesting as Kevin Slowey (3-6, 4.11, 20 games, 14 starts), Alex Sanabia (3-7, 4.88 in 10 starts), Tom Koehler (5-10, 4.41, 29, 23) and Brad Hand (1-1, 3.05, 7, 2). The Marlins also have two very solid left handed pitching prospects in Justin Nicolino and Andrew Heaney who could make an impact, but are not going to be rushed. Perhaps by the end of the season, Splitting Fernandez, Turner and Alvarez up with Nicolino and Heaney will make things tough on the opposition.
One of the more overrated closers in MLB was Steve Cishek of the Marlins. Getting a chance to close full time, he ran with it pitching to a 2.33 ERA and had 74 Ks in 69 2/3 IP. Getting the ball to him may not be that easy though LHP Mike Dunn (3-4, 2.66, 72 Ks in 67 2/3 IP) can pitch whole innings and is an asset to the pen. For the bullpen to be solid, they need new acquisitions Capps and Carlos Marmol to be good. Sanabia and Hand will be options there as well if they do not make the rotation. I do not see enough depth to see much success. The bigger problem is the fact that they will probably go to the bullpen sooner than some teams as there will be innings restrictions on guys like Fernandez and of course Nicolino and Heaney when they come up.
The loss of Pierre is going to hurt a little bit, but there was no room. OF Marcell Ozuna (.265, 3, 32 in 70 games) and Christian Yelich (.288, 4, 16 in 62 games) will get their chance to start in CF and LF, respectively. A healthy Giancarlo Stanton (.249, 24, 62 in 119 games) will make a difference. Saltalamacchia (.273, 14, 65) brings his WS Championship ring with him and should be an upgrade over Rob Brantly of last season. Jeff Mathis will get some time and is likely to be the backup. The Marlins are projected to be starting just 1 infielder who was with them in 2013. Adieny Hechavarria (.227, 3, 42) will return as the team's SS. Casey McGehee and Jeff Baker come over as free agents to compete for the 3B job. Baker (.279, 11, 21) is interesting to look at as to whether he can be a big league regular. McGehee played for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013 and hit .292, 28, 93 earning another chance to return to the big leagues. Rafael Furcal missed the entire 2013 season due to injury and will be the starting 2B replacing Donovan Solano. Solano anchors the bench which features Bogusevic, Mathis and Greg Dobbs. Garrett Jones comes over from Pittsburgh and will be playing 1B. The lineup can be better if the OF steps up and they get big years from McGehee and Jones.
The pitching can be a little better than expected. If Fernandez competes for the NL Cy Young this year, it could be contagious to the rest of the team. I think the Marlins are honestly another year or two away but it does not mean they cannot improve. Vegas has them at a 69.5 O/U but I would be very surprised if they took the over. I see them going 60-102, two games worse than 2013. They had the worst record in the NL last season and teams likely repeat as worst in the league. Am I silly with this pick?