Welcome to Miami…Marlins.
As the team formally known as the Florida Marlins not only got a different name to go with their new uniforms, they got a new home and manager too.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria kept his promise about investing in the team once they got a new stadium, as he opened his wallet wide. Loria went on an off-season spending spree that probably made George Steinbrenner smile up in heaven.
Still everybody knows that money doesn’t guarantee anything but rich players. You can’t buy camaraderie, nor can you pay off bad attitudes but the Marlins seemed to be more reckless, than tactful in this regard.
Now the only question is can the Marlins adjust to life in Miami enough to be contenders in 2012, or will it be a season of full of growing pains?
Let’s take a peek….
Skipper Ozzie Guillen is one of my favorite personalities in all of baseball. Guillen tells it like it is but he has such a naturally funny demeanor that is also so competitive that it is riveting. The Marlins really hit one out of the park by making Gillen the new clubs first manager. Guillen is so popular amongst baseball fans and with the game itself that he could fill half the ballpark on his own.
The Marlins starting rotation looks good, as it features ace Josh Johnson who when healthy, which ESPN reported is now a fact; Johnson is without one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Behind Johnson in the 3-5 slots will be the two other young Marlin pitchers, Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco along with new Marlin Carlos Zambrano to make up the backend. I would bet that the other acquired arm, ex-White Sox Mark Buehrle will slide into the number two spot and that adds up to a fairly concrete rotation.
The Marlins also acquired some serious offensive talent in ex-Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, who the Marlins locked in for six years, at $106 million. Reyes should complement Marlins superstar Hanley Ramirez in the infield. Reyes is an immensely and gifted baseball player but has endured major injury setbacks. Reyes has a feisty attitude that does not always fare so well with fans but maybe sometimes a fresh start is just what the doctor ordered.
And last but certainly not least, the Marlins inked ex-Padres closer Heath Bell to a 3-year, $27 million deal to solidify the bullpen. Since becoming a full time closer in 2009, Bell has been named an All-Star for all three seasons, and racked up 132 saves in total. He is one of the best in the business and should be a real luxury for the Marlins to have at the end of games.
If you could look up the phrase baseball team with personalities, you can bet that the 2012 Marlins team photo would be gracing the page. Guillen, Zambrano, Bell, Ramirez, Buehrle, and Reyes will bring a lot of character to this eccentric group. The one conceivable problem here is what to do when the team hits a slump. The Marlins have a few sore losers with bad attitudes on their roster so feasibly someone has to be the voice of reason. Baseball fans know all to well how fast things can spiral out of control and the Marlins will certainly have their hands full.
I guess there is some truth behind the saying, attitude reflects leadership as Marlins team president David Samson is about as loud and obnoxious as it can get. Samson is supposed to be selling the Marlins to Miamians but his recent comments seem to be doing the complete opposite. It is not the best PR move for Samson to state to the press that he doesn’t care if anyone shows up or not because I am sure the players might feel differently on the subject.
PLAYER(s)/GAME-CHANGERS TO WATCH:
1) Pitcher Josh Johnson is coming off an injury riddled 2011 season, and now that the Marlins have all the pieces to support their ace they need him to stay healthy. If Johnson can stay off the DL he could easily win the 2012 NL CY Young as that is how good his stuff is. If Johnson cannot stay healthy they can pretty much chalk up their first productive off-season since 2005 to being a waste-of-time. The Marlins need Johnson if they want to hang up top with the Phillies in the NL East; it is that simple.
2) Hanley Ramirez is said to be fine with making the switch to third base so that Reyes can play at shortstop, but Ramirez has been known to cop a bad attitude in the past. Well it would seem that Ramirez might have grown up, as he showed up to camp this season in the best shape of his life. But how many times have baseball fans heard that one before, just this season alone?
The Marlins seem to finally have a team that qualifies as legitimate contenders in the NL East division, pending no freak injuries or personality clashes.
Still, at the very best look for the Marlins to snatch a wild-card berth because the Phillies are just a more seasoned ball club and the Nationals and Braves could pose a problem too if the Marlins are not running on all cylinders.
Regardless, any team with Ozzie in charge has always proved to have a flair for the dramatic; and I can promise you that the Marlins will never be boring to watch, whether they are winning or losing.
- Marlins President Calls Miamians Stupid, Jose Reyes Greedy [Miami Marlins] (deadspin.com)
- It’s time to spring forward with MLB intrigue (articles.nydailynews.com)
- Spring Swing: All eyes on Ozzie and the Marlins (sports.yahoo.com)
- Marlins’ Reyes: Miami showed me I was wanted (espn.go.com)
- 2012 MLB Team Preview: Miami Marlins (ladylovespinstripes.com)