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2008 Florida Marlins
Whooaaaa-OOAAAA! Swimming on a Prayer! 2008 Spring Preview
by Eric Freeman Jr,
March 29, 2008

Miami is reeling. I know, that just happened.

The Marlins have suffered two devastating losses with the departures of Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. The Fish are in retooling mode, but promising young prospects will make the transition easier. After all, the Marlins finished last season with a 71-91 record, good for last place in the NL East. There’s no place to go but up, right?

2007 Standings - NL East W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA Pyth W Pyth L
Philadelphia Phillies 89 73 0.549 - 47-34 42-39 892 821 87 75
New York Mets 88 74 0.543 1.0 41-40 47-34 804 750 86 76
Atlanta Braves 84 78 0.519 5.0 44-37 40-41 810 733 88 74
Washington Nationals 73 89 0.451 16.0 40-41 33-48 673 783 70 92
Florida Marlins 71 91 0.438 18.0 36-45 35-46 790 891 72 90

Key Transactions
Acquired Pos.
Cameron Maybin OF
Luis Gonzalez OF
Andrew Miller LHP
Jorge Cantu IF
Mark Hendrickson RHP
Byung-Hyun Kim RHP
Departed Pos.
Dontrelle Willis LHP
Miguel Cabrera 3B
Cliff Floyd OF
Miguel Olivo C

2007 Starter    Miguel Olivo
Projected 2008 Starter   Mike Rabelo

In the past two seasons:

Olivo: $2.7 million. 23/226 BB/K.

Enough said.

First Base
2007 Starter   Mike Jacobs
Projected 2008 Starter   Mike Jacobs

Jacobs has proven to be a solid first baseman in his last two seasons for the Fish. He strikes out a little too much, but for the Marlins, he’ll do. Look for the neighborhood of 20 homers, 70 RBI, and his usual .265 batting average.
Surprise Player
Dan Uggla
Disappointment Candidate
Josh Willingham

Second Base
2007 Starter   Dan Uggla
Projected 2008 Starter   Dan Uggla

Proving to be the steal of the 2001 amateur draft, Dan Uggla never ceases to piss me off. I passed on him early in a fantasy draft, making way for someone else to claim his 31 homers, 49 doubles, and 88 RBI. Now, for his third full season, expect Uggla to be not only the meat of the lineup, but the main benefactor for stats. He finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in two years ago, and nothing says he shouldn’t blow up this year.

Dan Uggla

Third Base
2007 Starter   Miguel Cabrera
Projected 2008 Starter   Jorge Cantu

How do you replace a 24-year-old behemoth that averages 31 homers, 118 RBI’s, 189 hits, 41 doubles and remarkably bad defense?


Start a 26-year-old whiff machine who showed promise two years ago but remained unsigned until literally, at the time of this writing, yesterday.

2007 Starters   Hanley Ramirez
Projected 2008 Starter   Hanley Ramirez

Comeback Player
Scott Olsen
Stuff is too good for him not to succeed
ROY Candidate
Andrew Miller
A power pitcher who also induces ground ball outs
Ramirez was the meat of the massive trade that sent Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota to the Red Sox. After winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2006, Ramirez equaled his 51 stolen bases, but also added 29 homers to come one shy of going 30-30. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t go either 30-30 or even 40-40 this year, but his defense still needs work. He committed 24 errors last season, and it’s clear that the Marlins aren’t focused on defense in the slightest. But Ramirez’s offense will make up for it, and then some. Look out for explosive numbers.

2007 Starters Josh Willingham, Alfredo Amezaga, Jeremy Hermida
Projected 2008 Starters Josh Willingham, Cody Ross, Jeremy Hermida, Luis Gonzalez

As eager as I am to talk about other people born on my birthday from Florence, Alabama, I can only think about Josh Willingham. His solid defense in left field will outweigh his hitting potential. Once on track as a potential 3-4-5 club member, he strikes out a little too much (beginning to sense a theme?) and his hit totals haven’t been as high as once hoped.

Hermida begins the season on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury, paving the way for the return of Luis “No Way, AT ALL, I’m juiced” Gonzalez, seven years removed from one of the greatest offensive seasons in history. Few people remember this, only by virtue of being a slugging fool at the same time as one Barry Lamar Bonds. Now 40, Gonzalez will have to impress early if he hopes to hang on to his starting role in front of Hermida.

Marlins Fun Fact
Last season, the Marlins went 60-43 (.582) when their starting pitcher managed a Game Score of 40 or better
Cody Ross certainly isn’t going to approach the 1.064 OPS he managed last year in limited action, but a full season of him figures to result in more production than the overall production the team received from the centerfield position. Cabrera trade-prize Cameron Maybin could be ready to provide a boost towards the end of the summer as well.

2007 Starters Aaron Boone, Joe Borchard, Cody Ross, Matt Treanor, Jason Wood, Todd Linden, Alejandro de Aza
Projected 2008 Starters Jason Wood, Alfredo Amezaga, Alejandro De Aza, Paul Hoover

In one sense, the Fish were lucky that Jeremy Hermida was the Marlin to begin the year on the DL, because corner outfield is the only position for which they have any depth whatsoever. De Aza has bounced back and forth from the rookie league to double-A ball, but his walk total is sure to merit increased run totals, especially when factoring in his speed. Which is more shocking: that Alfredo Amezaga has a .653 career OPS, that he is 30 years old, or that he has a major league roster spot?

Starting Pitchers
2007 Starters Dontrelle Willis, Scott Olsen, Sergio Mitre, Byung-Hyun Kim, Rick Vanden Hurk
Projected 2008 RotationMark Hendrickson, Scott Olsen, Andrew Miller, Rick Vanden Hurk, Ricky Nolasco, Sergio Mitre, Anibal Sanchez

Scott Olsen

Goodbye, giant leg kick. Hello mediocrity straight outta Compton. The 33-year-old Hendrickson will be adding depth and experience to a banged-up group of youngins. The biggest benefit about Hendrickson has to be his enormous 6’9” frame. He will provide many solid innings, with an ERA hovering around 4.50.

The only hope for this rotation is a gargantuan offense to make up for a collectively dismal ERA, but even then, it won’t be enough to get through the power lineups of New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta on a regular basis.

Relief Pitchers
2007 Relievers Kevin Gregg, Matt Lindstrom, Taylor Tankersley, Lee Gardner, Reynel Pinto, Justin Miller, Wes Obermueller, Armando Benitez
Projected 2008 Relievers Kevin Gregg, Matt Lindstrom, Taylor Tankersley, Lee Gardner, Reynel Pinto, Justin Miller

Gregg is relatively solid. His 3.54 ERA aside – high for closers – he still did his part last season with 32 saves. Lee Gardner was also solid last season, posting a 1.94 ERA in 74.3 IP. Their relative solidity, however, will be tested with mediocre starting pitching, forcing them to work harder, tire easier and ultimately become less effective during the stretch run. Only the Washington and Texas bullpens threw more innings last year, and the departure of workhorse Dontrelle Willis only accentuates the problem in 2008.

Outlook for the Season - The Marlins will finish near the cellar of the National League, but enough places will be secure for young, fresh players to gain valuable experience for the future. The Marlins won’t be finishing at the top of any leader board, but that’s why they call it “rebuilding.”

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