4. Florida Marlins 82-80
The Marlins had their bats explode last year. The Marlins first, second, and third baseman along with shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, hit at least 29 or more home runs. Last season was pretty good for them as they had two all-stars in Ramirez and Dan Uggla. Flordia finished third in the East only five games behind the Mets. Right now the Marlins are five and one. The rest of the season will be a different story though.
Flordia made the first trade of the offseason when they traded Mike Jacobs to Kansas City for Leo Nunez. They traded Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham to the Nationals for speedster Emilio Bonifacio. Then they traded closer, Kevin Gregg to the Cubs for minor league pitcher Jose Ceda. They signed relief pitcher Scott Proctor. Other wise all the Marlins did was cut payroll.
The Marlins biggest problem is their defense. Dan Uggla has a bat but has absolutely no glove skills. Hanley Ramirez is a pretty slick fielder but not the best. Rookie center fielder, Cameron Maybin though has a small chance to win a Golden Glove. Jorge Cantu is an average fielder at first. Emilio Bonifacio will end up being a huge steal for the Marlins as he is fast and has a good glove. Bonifacio could be the next Mike Lowell but Lowell has more power and Bonifacio has more speed. Right fielder, Cody Ross made one error in 133 games last year but this year has all ready made an error.
The Marlins have a pretty bad bullpen led by closer Matt Lindstrom who is just above average. Leo Nunez is okay and in two games has given up two runs, one home run, and three hits. Offseason signing Scott Proctor is on the fifteen day D.L. Andrew Miller could become a good starting pitcher but will stay in the bullpen unless an injury. Hayden Penn looks like he could have a good year for the Marlins. Overall though the bullpen stinks.
The Marlins have a good offense but it is a step down from last year. Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu, and Dan Uggla hit 94 home runs last year. This year Baseball Prospectus projects them to hit a total of 77 home runs and I totally agree with that. Hanley Ramirez will hit less home runs but will improve his batting average this year. Dan Uggla will hit 30 home runs but that will be about it. He will bat around .250 and drive in only 75. Jorge Cantu will have a big drop in home runs only hitting twenty home runs.
The Marlins rotation is promising but is not there just yet. People say your only as good as your weakest link and the Marlins weakest link threw a no hitter in his rookie season. More on him later though. Rick VandenHurk pitched for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic and is now on the fifteen day D.L. Chris Volstad is unproven but I believe he could have a good year. Ricky Nolasco also could have a good season this year. I think he will win seventeen games with a 3.25 ERA.
Josh Johnson could join the elite pitchers (Cole Hamels, C.C. Sabathia, Josh Beckett, Roy Oswalt, etc.) this year and I believe he can. yet Johnson will not I see Johnson winning twenty games with a 3.50 ERA maybe as soon as 2011. This year he will win eleven games and lose six with a 3.75 ERA. However Baseball Prospectus sees Johnson going eight and eight with a 4.10 ERA in 2009. It does predict that he will be come the Marlins’ ace though.
Anibal Sanchez pitched a no hitter in his rookie season but last year only pitched in ten games due to injuries and surgery. This year I see him going eight and seven with a 4.30 ERA. Sanchez could become the next Jon Lester. Sanchez just needs to work a little more and can also become an ace.
Just a few years ago the Marlins had the best pitching staff in baseball with Ryan Dempster, A.J. Burnett, Brad Penny, Josh Beckett. Today Dempster is with the Cubs, Burnett is with the Yankees, and Beckett and Penny are with the Red Sox. All are with big market teams. Like most small market teams they get good players and then once they are good they leave for money. Nolasco, Johnson, VanderHurk, and Sanchez will probably do that.
The Marlins will be taking a step back this year due mostly to the economy but they are going to be around for a while but for the next few years Florida will be watching baseball in October.
Also I am sorry for my lack of comments lately. I have been very busy lately.