2012 Organizational Rankings: #17 – Miami

Read the methodology behind the ratings here. Remember that the grading scale is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

2012 Organizational Rankings

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago AL
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City
#21 – Cleveland
#20 – New York Mets
#19 – Los Angeles Dodgers
#18 – Colorado

Miami’s 2011 Ranking: 17th

2012 Outlook: 53 (14th)

The biggest strength for the Marlins this year will likely be their lineup. While the team finished slightly behind the middle of the pack in wOBA at .311 (9th in the NL) last year, the progressions of Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton, along with the expected bounce back from Hanley Ramirez and the acquisition of Jose Reyes should make this one of the better lineups in the league.

One of the most active teams this winter, the newly named Miami Marlins bolstered their lineup, defense, starting pitching, and bullpen in free agency by signing Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell. While free agency is certainly not the most efficient way to build a ball club, the contracts for these players possess much more long term risk rather than short term risk. They should make them a better club this year, even if they do end up hurting them in the future.

The staff is filled with many high potential arms, the most notable being Josh Johnson. Everyone wants to see Johnson healthy, but that has consistently been an issue for him throughout his career. Anibal Sanchez is one of the more underrated starters in the league and we are still waiting for Ricky Nolasco to receive the type of results his peripherals suggest. Buehrle and sporadic Carlos Zambrano will round out the rotation. There are obviously many questions round Zambrano, but he Marlins do not have too much invested into him and that makes him a pretty solid fifth starter compared to the norm.

With a strong bullpen featuring Bell and left-hander Mike Dunn among others, the Marlins have a pretty solid all-around team. They are in an extremely tough and competitive division though, which could end up being decided by who remains the healthiest throughout the year.

2013+ Outlook: 45 (22nd)

With just one prospect ranked in Marc Hulet’s top 100, the Marlins farm system is more or less in shambles. Christian Yelich is the team’s top prospect, and was ranked the 48th best prospect in the game by Marc. They do have decent pitching depth in the minors, but Marc ranked the system just 26th, lowest among N.L. East teams.

Thankfully for the Marlins, much of their talent is young and signed to multi-year contracts. Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, and Reyes will be Marlins through 2016 unless they are moved, with Gaby Sanchez under control through 2015. The only impending free agents after this season are Zambrano, Anibal Sanchez, Juan Carlos Oviedo, and Randy Choate, which means the Marlins should look pretty similar in 2013.

While Reyes will likely be in a decline phase over the course of his Marlin tenure, Stanton and Morrison will just be entering their peaks in the coming years. Two young bats of this stature will help solidify their offense for seasons to come, which is certainly helpful considering the franchise’s lack of prospects, specifically in terms of position players.

Their rotation will look quite different in a few years, as the only pitcher under control for more than two seasons is Buehrle. While the team does have some pitching depth, they will likely use their newly found funds to scour the free agent market as they did this past season. As mentioned previously, that will likely help them in the short term, but could cause issues in the long term. The outlook is far from rosy for the Marlins going forward, but they do have some solid pieces under control for many years and could build around them with sound decisions from their front office.

Financial Resources: 50 (15th)

This was one of the more difficult rankings we encountered. The Marlins have certainly spent like a bigger market team this year, but prior to this season have always acted as the one of the smallest of small market teams in terms of free agency and long term deals. The creation of their new stadium and revamping of their brand name in an effort to gain more fans in Miami is expected to increase revenues and the team’s operating income.

With how active the Marlins were in free agency, and the fact that they were still bidding on Pujols and Fielder even after signing multiple free agents to lucrative deals, shows that they do seem committed to putting money into their team.

The Marlins’ TV deal does not expire until 2020, which hurts their overall outlook financially. The new means of creating revenue in baseball is through big money TV deals, and the Marlins will be unable to capitalize on this market for the foreseeable future. This could cause them to eventually regret their somewhat reckless spending from this offseason.

We erred on the side of caution and ranked the Marlins 15th in team finances, as they have the potential to become a semi-big market franchise but could also find themselves strapped for cash if they prove to be overexposed. The Marlins payroll will be around $95m, which places them close to the middle in that regard as well. Currently, the 15 ranking seems accurate, but following the information that comes out about their financials over the next number of months will certainly be interesting. The team is under investigation by the SEC in regards to their new stadium. If financial information was misrepresented during the bond issuance or at any part of the stadium’s financing process, the team’s financials could take a serious hit.

Baseball Operations: 41 (26th)

Larry Beinfest, President of Baseball Operations, and Michael Hill, General Manager, have certainly been in the center of a complete change in organizational philosophy over the past six months. As a team that consistently relied upon building through their farm system to compete, the Marlins front office – though it has changed since their World Series titles — did a rather impressive job for a number of seasons considering their payroll situations.

With the farm system looking as barren as it ever has, the infusion of money into the team could not have come at a better time. While the front office is certainly far from a top notch group, their poor drafts and lack of significant international signings over the past few seasons may be masked for the time being.

That will not be the case forever though, and if the Marlins want to compete with the rest of the teams in the NL East in the future – both the Nationals and Braves are set up quite well for the next bunch of years and the Phillies will likely stay competitive with a high payroll – they will need the front office to make sound decisions in regards to trading for prospects, drafting top end talent, and signing high ceiling international players.

Overall: 49 (17th)

Right now the Marlins’ organization is about a league average franchise. With the type of top end talent they have under control for a number of years, they can become a solid team for many years if their monetary situation does not revert back to what was once the norm and if their front office makes sound decisions.

Both of those are relatively big “ifs” though. This current front office has not been in this type of money situation before and the potential for sanctions from the SEC is still a risk that needs to be accounted for.

This team is currently a contender. With a few breaks here or there, they could certainly pull off a miracle season, as the franchise has done twice in the past, and end up being World Series champions. Injuries and erratic behavior from a mix of personalities in their clubhouse could drastically hurt the team’s chances this season. They look like a potentially volatile team, which makes it reasonable to expect anywhere from a first to fourth place finish this season. They are potentially the most talented team in the division, and this is a very talented overall division, but being able to stay on the field and have individuals perform up to expectations will be the biggest keys to their performance over the next few seasons.




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Ben Duronio writes for Capitol Avenue Club, FanGraphs, and does the Sports Illustrated Power Rankings. Follow Ben on twitter @Ben_Duronio.

33 Responses to “2012 Organizational Rankings: #17 – Miami”

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  1. Jordan says:

    Who’s Mike Stanton?

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  2. Ben says:

    You went an entire write-up on the Marlins, mentioning over half of the active players on the roster, without bringing up Chris Coghlan. The circumstances that have led to that are pretty crazy when you think about it.

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    • Richie says:

      Umm, what circumstances led to what about Chris Coghlan? (for us non-Marlins fans)

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      • Well-Beered Englishman says:

        Everyone thinking he was awesome that one time.

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      • Ben says:

        Well, he’s 2.5 years removed from a RoY award and a fan holding his first home run ball hostage in Milwaukee, iirc. The complete deterioration of his skills is pretty startling, along with the bizarre way ownership has handled him (from what I gather from occasionally watching Marlins games).

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      • brendan says:

        reminds me of bobby crosby. sometimes the RoY winner ends up being not-good.

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  3. Steve says:

    Will Anibal Sanchez be the top mid-season trade target?

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  4. adohaj says:

    I still don’t understand where the money comes from, the stands are empty and no new TV deal. Is it all out of pocket from the owners? Or have they just been putting those revenue sharing checks in the bank all these years?

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  5. Will says:

    For those that haven’t seen it, the FanGraphs readers have been remarkably similar to the writers. So far:

    30. Baltimore
    29. Houston
    28. Oakland
    27. Pittsburgh
    26. Minnesota
    25. NY Mets
    24. Chi White Sox
    23. San Diego
    22. Kansas City
    21. Seattle
    20. Cleveland
    19. LA Dodgers
    18. Colorado
    17. Miami

    Then
    16. Milwaukee
    15. Chi Cubs
    14. Arizona
    13. Cincinnati
    12. San Francisco
    11. Washington
    10. Atlanta
    9. Tampa
    8. St. Louis
    7. Toronto
    6. Detroit
    5. Philadelphia
    4. LA Angels
    3. Boston
    2. Texas
    1. NY Yankees

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    • Frank says:

      Probably fairly close, but Philly is obviously too high (line-up aging quickly, bad contracts) and Tampa is obviously too low (top farm system, good young team). I also expect it’s possible Toronto gets some love over teams like Detroit, LAA, or Boston as a result of the improving team, excellent farm system, and lack of bad contracts.

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  6. YX says:

    A Marlins post without mention the Home Run thing? That must be against the law or something!

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  7. jordan_s says:

    from what i can tell, there’s enough buzz now around the city that if this year’s team makes the playoffs, fans will show up. they won’t be at capacity for all (or probably any) games, but they could reach league average attendance. if this all blows up in their face it could more or less kill baseball in miami for a decade.

    gonna be fun!

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  8. SaberTJ says:

    The Marlins problem is the the stadium and the area it is located in. There won’t be enough parking, and it is not easily to get in and out of. Also, they will suffer due tot he fact they are not on the water.

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    • bpdelia says:

      Meh. There is no better spot. Downtown is a two lane business district. The stadium is literally a 4 minute drive from biscayne and has two main thorough fares nearby. Yeah parking will suck but all stadium parking sucks and the orange bowl did pretty good on that site for an awful long time. Plus you are really close to south neach via 395. Woulda been better optics next to the arena but the site is already becoming a natural history and modern art complex.

      The site is fine.

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      • SaberTJ says:

        I hope that you’re right. It would be nice for baseball to thrive in such a unique city like Miami. I’m looking forward to seeing it on ESPN Wed. night.

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    • jlr04 says:

      These fish don’t need water. Parking issue is way, way overblown. 75,000 people used to park there for Dolphin games.

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  9. jlr04 says:

    17th? I actually expected worse, you’re being kind I see. Farm system in shambles?
    Ha, thats ’cause they’ve all graduated. We don’t need no stinking prospects! Except Yelich, he’s a stud. Oh, and the homerun feature rocks! Y’all just jealous.

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  10. Baltar says:

    The Marlins, as do the Nationals, still have to prove themselves to me before I would rank them this high.

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    • Anon21 says:

      I’m with you. All these analysts seem to be drinking the fashionably counterintuitive Kool-Aid on the Marlins and Nationals. These are two teams that finished below .500 last year. I realize that the faces have changed, but you’ve got to show me, not tell me, that you’re ready to play with the big boys before I’ll believe it. I expect the Phillies and Braves to brush them aside like sidewalk trash again.

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      • pdowdy83 says:

        I’m not exactly sure how the Braves and Phillies “brushed aside” the Nationals last year when the Nats had a winning record against the Phils and split the season series with the Braves…

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      • Anon21 says:

        Brushed them aside in the sense that they weren’t competing with them, because the Nats were never in it. No one cares about the season series result with a team that finishes under .500. Quite possibly, the Nats will do fine against one or both teams this year, because you can’t predict baseball. My prediction is that it will not matter, because they aren’t ready to make the leap to contention yet.

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  11. Adam says:

    Here’s the deal with the Marlins finances:

    Since their inception until playing their final season at Dolphins Stadium last year, Wayne Huizenga, and subsequently Steven Ross, had the Marlins by the you-know-whats with their lease deal. The Dolphins received: Most if not all of the money taken in for parking, concessions, luxury boxes; a small percentage of ticket sales plus monthly lease payments. The Marlins were left operating on what little revenue they had from tickets, merchandising, sponsorship deals and league revenue sharing.

    From here on out, the Marlins will take in ALL of the money coming through their stadium; parking, tickets, concessions, everything; and without a lease. They tried hoarding as much money as they could, about $40mil/year, going into this off-season before MLB called them out on it last season. Either way, they were well prepared for this off-season and should see a massive boost in both income and payroll over the coming years despite not being available to a new TV deal.

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  12. Jesse says:

    This team and organization are phonies. They’ve got significant money going towards mark burhele and a closer and 30+ jose reyes for the next several years and are long cry from proving that their fans give a crap enough to give them any money. No prospects, near the end of the line on most of their rotation, and no proven financial resources, and commitments to big red flags with backloaded deals. Actually, sounds like the mets a few years ago. If they don’t make the playoffs this year and build an actual fan base, they won’t get out of the gutter for a long time, giancarlo or no.

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  13. The Nicker says:

    I can’t believe no one objected to the baseball ops ranking here. This is the management that has fielded competent teams for years with a bottom 3 payroll and bad meddling ownership.

    They should be much higher is we’re taking past results into account at all.

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