There’s something here. It’s unlikely much will come of it for reasons I’m sure Dave Cameron will cover later today… And that has to be incredibly frustrating for my boy Michael Jong and that one Marlins fan (or was it a homeless person who visited a Salvation Army shop with slim pickings?) I saw in Arizona… that has to be about it, right? It’s not like ownership has even earned that.
It’s too bad. The Marlins have a good core put together by a smart front office working with one hand tied behind their back. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Hanley Ramirez is the best shortstop in baseball, and he’s only 26. ‘Nuff said. Dan Uggla‘s defense, unlike Ramirez’s, appears to still be pretty bad at second, but his bat is still pretty good, and he’s an above average player. The corner infield is less inspiring, particularly with Jorge Cantu (and okay hitter but a dreadful fielder) still at third base, while something like a younger version of Cantu, Gaby Sanchez, patrols the area around first. Sanchez may just be holding down the fort until the team feels Logan Morrison is ready (and that may be soon). All three are competent, none are inspiring (although Morrison is just 22 and thus has a fair bit of upside). The outfield is good, too. The redoubtable Cody Ross was never great in center field, his defense is a plus in the corners and overall he’s probably about an average player or a bit better. Left fielder Chris Coghlan, another good young bat from the farm, would probably be playing second base this season if the club had been able to trade Dan Uggla (or moved him to third) as they wished. Anyway, Coghlan hits and fields well enough to be above average overall in left field. The long-awaited Cameron Maybin will be getting his first full-time shot in center field, and while some analysts aren’t as high on his immediate stardom as others, it seems to me he’ll get there soon enough, and with that bat and glove, it’s hard to see him being any worse than above average in 2010. In John Baker and Ronny Paulino, the Marlins have two decent catchers.
It’s the pitching that will get them. 26-year old Josh Johnson is a legitimate ace, or close to it, and the Marlins were forced by the mean-old MLBPA to extend him for four years. Isn’t there any mercy in the world for classy art dealers? Ricky Nolasco is also above average, and may still be more than that. After that, it gets pretty ugly, unless you think Anibal Sanchez and Andrew Miller are going to shock everyone and fulfill the promise they seemed to have long ago. As for the bullpen, well, you get what you pay for.
The frustrating thing about the Marlins is that with good, young players like Ramirez, Maybin, Coghlan, Johnson, and others all under contract or club control, they should be able to contend; even on their small budget, there has to be enough money left over to add a couple of non-terrible relievers, and/or another starting pitcher. Yes, the Phillies are very, very good, but with a bit of effort the Braves would be within striking distance. The Marlins could have a reasonable chance a wildcard spot (and maybe more), especially with the Nationals floundering and the Mets being the Mets. As it is, the Marlins will probably be around .500 this year, maybe a bit better, maybe a bit worse.
Jeffrey Loria should thank his lucky stars every day that Donald Sterling is around.