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Miami Marlins 2013 Preview

Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton

After a massive off-season last year, the Marlins followed up their hugely disappointing season with an equally massive sell-off. In fact, with rumors swirling around Giancarlo Stanton, they may not even be done yet. Anyone who has been following baseball for any amount of time is no stranger to massive Marlins sell-offs—but those usually happen after a big World Series win. This year, the Marlins didn’t waste any time cutting their losses.

The worst part of the sell-off is that they really did not get a lot of great prospects in return. Worse, they are now forced to throw many of those prospects right into the lineup and rotation because everyone else is gone. Last year was an inexplicable failure, at least this year it won’t sneak up on you. This is a lousy team. Let’s take a look.

2012 Team Rankings:

Wins: 69

Runs: 29th Overall

Batting Average: 24th Overall

ERA: 21st Overall

WHIP: 21st Overall

Catchers: Rob Brantly, Jeff Mathis – Grade: C

Brantly looked solid in the 100 at-bats he got last season and figures to be a decent catcher. He won’t hit for much power but could be a .280-.290 hitter who looks solid behind the plate.

Mathis is your prototypical backup catcher who seldom bats above the Mendoza line. He’s great with the glove and should be good calling the games for the Marlins young pitching staff.

First Base: Logan Morrison, Joe Mahoney – Grade: C

Watching Carlos Lee struggle at first for the Marlins last year was painful. Now, the Marlins are moving Morrison in from left field. Morrison was banged up last season and batted a mere .230 with 11 HR and 36 RBI. The previous year he batted .247 with 23 HR and 72 RBI which is close to where he should be.

Mahoney has never seen any big league action (the case with many of this year’s Marlins). He was claimed off waivers from Baltimore after the season. He projects to be a mediocre first baseman who bats .260-.280 with the ability to hit 15-20 HR and drive in 65-80.

Second Base: Donovan Solano, Chris Coghlan – Grade: C-

The Cards let Solano go after seven seasons in the minors but he looked good in his 285 at-bats in his first major league action, batting .295 with 28 RBI, 29 R, and seven SB. Considering he’s only batted that high in the minors once and never stole more than five bases, it’s hard to figure out where his potential lies until we see him play a full season.

The Marlins keep holding on to the hope that former Rookie of the Year Coghlan can be a good player. Ravaged by injuries and ineffectiveness, he has gotten just 362 at-bats over the last two seasons and batted .207 with six HR, 32 RBI, 43 runs and seven stolen bases (eight caught stealing). I expect to see as little of him this season as the past two seasons.

Shortstop: Adeiny Hechavarria – Grade: C-

Hechavarria was a big part of the Marlins-Blue Jays blockbuster trade this offseason. His average has been up-and-down over three seasons in the minors but the 23-year-old has good speed (even if he lacks great base running instincts) and potential to be a good extra base hitter. His glove needs development as well. This is going to be a project—but one that may bear good results.

Third Base: Placido Polanco, Greg Dobbs – Grade: C-

The 37-year-old Polanco has consistently been on the decline since 2009, playing less games (90 in 2012), hitting for lower average (.257 in 2012), and producing next to nothing (19 RBI in 2012). I’m not sure what the Marlins are hoping for from him.

Dobbs is almost as old as Polanco but slightly more useful. He batted .285 last season with 39 RBI in 319 at-bats—pretty solid numbers for a backup infielder.

Outfield: Giancarlo Stanton, Juan Pierre, Bryan Petersen, Justin Ruggiano, Gorkys Hernandez – Grade: C+

Stanton was limited by injuries to just 123 games and still hit .290 with 37 HR, 86 RBI, and 75 runs. He is as good a power hitter as you will find in the league, even with his high strikeout totals. There has been talk about the Marlins moving him which would render this already rough-around-the-edges outfield completely laughable, a la their infield.

The 35-year-old Pierre continues to be a reliable outfielder, years after the Marlins wrote him off. He batted .307 with 37 SB for the Phils last season and is still a serviceable starting outfielder.

Petersen batted .195 in 241 at-bats last season, not what you’d expect from a guy who batted .295 in six seasons in the minors. He has the potential to be a 20-20 guy but potential will only get you so far. I actually expect him to be a pretty good bat for the Marlins this year, hopefully he doesn’t end up another Chris Coghlan.

Ruggiano looked solid last year, batting .313 with 13 HR and 14 SB in just 288 at-bats for the Marlins. The 30-year-old has been up and down for nine years now but has the potential to be a legit outfielder in the majors.

Hernandez is a former top prospect with the Pirates organization who came over in the trade that sent Gaby Sanchez to Pittsburgh. The 25-year-old has stolen as much as 54 bases in the minors but strikes out way too much to stay consistent at bat.

Starting Rotation: Ricky Nolasco, Henderson Alvarez, Wade LeBlanc, Nate Eovaldi, Jacob Turner, Brad Hand – Grade: D+

Nolasco is a rare holdover from the past and considering they parted ways with Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez, you wonder why they kept a perennial 4.50 ERA, 1.30+ WHIP guy. Nolasco is hardly ace material but he usually stays healthy and is at least consistent so…there’s that.

Alvarez was the key part of the Marlins-Blue Jays trade. He came up for the Jays and went 9-14 with a 4.85 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 31 starts. He has the tools to be a good pitcher but his strikeout-walk ratio is pretty rough and he allows far too many base runners. He also allowed 29 homers last season—though that number will definitely drop in Marlins Park.

LeBlanc split time between the rotation and the pen last season but looked as impressive as the epitome of mediocrity has ever looked, putting up a 3.67 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. Pitching in a big ballpark helps.

Eovaldi is a former top prospect in the Dodgers organization who came over in return for Hanley Ramirez last year. In 22 starts between LA and Miami last year, he went 4-13 with a 1.51 WHIP but a respectable 4.30 ERA. He’s another guy like Alvarez who gets burned by the amount of hitters he lets on base—but he seems like a more major league ready pitcher than Alvarez, miserable win-loss record or not.

The 21-year-old Turner was sent here from Detroit in return for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. In seven starts for Miami he put up a very nice 3.38 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. He appears to be both the youngest and best member of this Marlins rotation.

As seems to be the mold in Miami, Hand is another pitcher who keeps the homers down but baserunners way up. Among the wealth of young pitchers, Hands appears to have the lowest ceiling.

Bullpen: Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, Ryan Webb, Dan Jennings, Chris Hatcher, Jose Ceda, Alex Sanabia – Grade: D+

Cishek is a very good looking middle-reliever, but I am not sure about his closing ability. He blew four of his 19 opportunities last season filling in for Heath Bell and will likely close all of this season.

Dunn, Webb, and Hatcher are all unimpressive 4+ ERA guys and make up a very mediocre bridge from their mediocre pitching staff to their mediocre closer.

Ceda and Jennings are both young and really struggle with their command.

Sanabia has long been one of the Marlins top prospects despite struggling over the last two seasons in the minors. After making 12 starts in 2010 and two in 2011 he spent all of last year in the minors and it is unclear what role, if any, he will get out of spring training.

Team Grade: D+

Fearless Prediction: 61-101, 5th in NL East

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