With the team moving into a new stadium in 2012, the Miami Marlins looked to make a big splash this offseason and build an instant contender. The additions of Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle make the team a formidable foe for the likes of the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.
Here is a look at the Do’s and Don’ts as we run through the new and improved Marlins roster:
DO watch Hanley Ramirez closely this spring. After a year in which he struggled with back and shoulder issues, posting the lowest OPS (.712) of his career, we should expect some regression to the mean from Hanley, provided he’s healthy. Keep an eye on his power stroke this spring to see if he’s fully back. Also, with his move to third base, Hanley will soon gain dual eligibility this season, thus increasing his value.
DON’T sleep on Jose Reyes. He is still one of the top shortstops in the majors and won the NL batting title in 2011. He probably won’t reach double digit homeruns again and I wouldn’t count on another batting title. But he’s still good for around 40 stolen bases and an average over .300.
DO monitor Josh Johnson‘s progress this spring. Coming off a shoulder injury, no one knows exactly what to expect this year for the Marlin’s Ace. He made only 9 starts in 2011, before being sidelined, but, if healthy, he is one of the top 3-4 pitchers in the NL. He threw a pain free bullpen session on Wednesday and hopes to be ready for the start of the season.
DON’T expect much from Carlos Zambrano and you won’t be disappointed. Acquired from the Chicago Cubs for Chris Volstad, Zambrano is a shell of his former self. After pitching over 200 innings each year from 2003-2007, Zambrano has failed to reach that mark each of the last 4 years. Part of that is due to suspensions he received the last two years, but its pretty clear that he is no longer the workhorse he used to be. Leave him for the NL only leagues.
DO expect a rebound from Omar Infante. He had some bad luck last year, but seemed to turn things around in the second half of the season. Just don’t expect much in the speed or power departments.
I DO expect big things from Mike Stanton. The guy has some prodigious power and could easily top 40 homeruns this season. He probably won’t hit much more than .260, but if he gives you 40+ homers and 100+ RBI’s, you can forgive him for a modest batting average.
DON’T expect to hear from Chris Coghlan, at least not in a Marlins uniform. The former Rookie of the Year, has fallen out of favor with the Marlins and will likely begin the season in the minors or with another team.
I DO like Anibal Sanchez. After struggling with injuries early in his career, he has put together back-to-back strong seasons. If he can continue to stay healthy, look for more of the same in 2012.
I DON’T like Ricky Nolasco. He has failed each of the last 3 years to rekindle the magic of his 2008 season and was rumored to be on the trading block.
DO expect bigger and better things from Gaby Sanchez. Although he put up nearly identical stats in 2010 and 2011, there are signs of growth. He showed a better eye in 2011, increasing his walks from 57 to 74, while keeping the same high contact rate (83%). He could approach .300 and 25 homeruns in 2012.
I DON’T know what to make of Logan Morrison. I considered him a bit of a sleeper last year, but while he increased his power output, he struggled with a .247 average. He was demoted to the minors mid-year and later filed a grievance against the club, prompting speculation that he could be traded. For now he is still with the team, the question is for how long?
DO draft Emilio Bonifacio. An excellent source of speed, Bonifacio should net you 40+ stolen bases. However, be wary of that .296 average from 2011, as a second half hit % of 40% is not sustainable. Expect something more in the .260-.270 range.
DON’T waste a roster spot on Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez). The former Marlins closer was caught in an identity fraud this winter and may not start the season with the team.
DO draft Heath Bell. With Oviedo’s status uncertain, the Marlins signed Bell to assume the closer role. He is one of the best and most consistent closers in the majors and, barring injury, should be the Marlins closer for the next 3 years.
Finally, DON’T forget about Mark Buehrle. He is not a sexy pitcher and he will not rack up a bunch of strikeouts. But what he will give you is 13-15 wins and an ERA around 3.50. So, while other guys are chasing the next big rookie, don’t be afraid to take Buehrle in the middle rounds.