Posted on March 7, 2011 at 2:30 PMTwo years ago, I started a series I called Playing Pepper, where I asked questions of bloggers of each major league team about the season to come. Not only was that informative and entertaining, it led to the spawning of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. With spring training coming up, it's time to get back into shape by again playing a little pepper.
Filed Under: Florida Marlins
| Playing Pepper
Florida Marlins (80-82, 17 GB and third in the NL East)
After all the controversies, the stops and starts, the Marlins are getting a new ballpark in 2012. Which means not only is this the last year in Sun Life Stadium but also the last as the Florida Marlins, as they turn into the Miami Marlins when they move into the new digs.
Can Florida go out with a bang? The Phillies are the clear favorite, but everything else seems to be up for grabs. I talked with David Hill, author of Marlins Diehards
, about the upcoming campaign. You can find David on Twitter
as well, if you want to keep up throughout the year.
After the jump, prospects both coming and, in the case of Mike Stanton, already established.
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C70: What was your opinion of the Florida offseason?
MD: Florida's offseason was a bit uneven. It was disappointing to see Dan Uggla go, but if 4 years and $48 million were not enough for him, then the team was completely justified in trading him while they could get an everyday player for him. I wasn't thrilled with the contract they gave John Buck, but in the grand scheme of things it won't be an albatross, so I'll let the front office slide on that one. I was glad the team locked up Ricky Nolasco for three years, and the Javier Vazquez was the kind of marginal risk-high reward type deal that often goes the Marlins' way. The only real tragedy of the Marlins offseason was the failure to release Emilio Bonifacio.
C70: Will Josh Johnson be healthy and be able where he left off in 2011?
MD: I'm keeping my fingers crossed on Johnson. If he stays healthy, I'm sure he will be able to meet the 8.5 K/9 he is projected to reach
. Matching last year's 2.30 ERA may be a bit too much to ask, but an ERA in the 3.00 range seems feasible.
C70: Is Mike Stanton for real?
MD: Stanton can rake, and when you look at his AA numbers in 2010 versus 2009
(his BB% doubled, K% fell from 33 to 28, and he hit 5 more HR in 100 fewer AB), it's easy to be optimistic. I'd like to see him strike out less and walk more, but I feel pretty confident about Stanton.
C70: Is there a Marlins prospect that will make a significant impact this season?
MD: The Marlins' minor league roster is pretty bare, since so many minor leaguers were promoted in 2009 and 2010. Matt Dominguez might be able to make the big club in 2011, but I doubt it. If the Marlins get any help midseason, it will be via a trade, and not a callup.
C70: What is your prediction for Florida's record and divisional finish?
MD: The Marlins were a .500 team in 2010, and they still look like a .500 team. It will not be easy to replace Dan Uggla's bat, and as much as the team thinks they'll be able to make part of it up with an improved defense, I'm not buying it. If a number of things break the right way (Vazquez returns to form, the rest of the rotation stays healthy, Chris Coghlan becomes a serviceable CF, Emilio Bonifacio retires to find his calling as a cheesemaker, Hanley Ramirez doesn't alienate the rest of the team), they could contend for the Wild Card. More realistically, they will follow the usual pattern of staying in contention until September, then fading fast.