These ain’t your father’s Marlins.
No longer will the team be called the Florida Marlins. Gone are the teal jerseys, which have been replaced by ugly rainbow-popsicle jerseys. Oh yeah, and the Marlins also have a brand-spanking-new stadium.
Also apparently gone is the practice of pinching pennies. The Marlins made a splash in the offseason by throwing money at Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle. Not to mention that the Marlins shook things up by hiring the powder keg waiting to erupt in Ozzie Guillen as their new manager.
The facelift that the Marlins have undergone makes this team hardly recognizable these days. However, the team has the talent to contend for a playoff berth.
So, let’s assess five pressing questions facing the Marlins this year.
5. Can Josh Johnson rebound and stay healthy?
After making only nine starts last year with right shoulder inflammation, Johnson is trying to return to the form that made him a legitimate ace.
Johnson is saying all the right things right now, saying he totally feels fine. That is all well and good, but for a pitcher with a history of major injuries Johnson comes with a moderate amount of risk.
Going into last year, Johnson was among the top 10 pitchers to target, but with nearly a full season of inactivity, Johnson should be approached with skepticism that he can return to complete form.
Draft with caution.
4. What effect will the new batch of free agents provide the Marlins?
The Marlins spent this offseason imitating the New York Yankees by throwing boatloads of money at free agents, even trying to woo Albert Pujols. The new-found financial approach to appease a new fledgling fan base worked, as the Marlins reeled in Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle.
Reyes is always an injury risk, but his value remains the same. When he is on the field, he is a top five shortstop.
Bell and Buehrle’s values get a slight bump. Bell will seemingly get more save opportunities as the team should be in contention for more wins. Meanwhile, Buehrle will be playing in a stadium that, at best, will be a neutral park -or maybe even a pitcher’s park- and not the bandbox to which he is accustomed.
3. Should you be worried about Gaby Sanchez’ second half swoon?
After making the All-Star team with a .293 batting average, 13 home runs and 50 RBI’s in the first half, Sanchez took a dive in the second half, batting only .225 while hitting only six more home runs and driving in an additional 28 RBI’s.
For many that is a red flag, but Sanchez was playing with a balky knee. Now that he is healthy, he makes for a solid selection on draft day.
Besides, in most traditional/mixed leagues, he is not a starter but more of a corner infielder/reserve anyway. With that said, Sanchez is a safe risk to gamble on in the later portions of your drafts
2. Is Carlos Zambrano still a viable fantasy option?
Good friend and fellow Venezuelan Ozzie Guillen still believes in Zambrano. And if there is one manager who can deal with Zambrano’s hot temper and antics it is the equally fiery Guillen.
After 11 turbulent seasons with the Cubs, maybe a change of scenery will do Zambrano some good. Zambrano is somewhat at peace with Guillen and that can only mean good things. Mind you, not great things, but Zambrano is worth a flier in the late rounds of drafts.
The recipe is there for Zambrano to rebound. 10-12 wins with a sub-4.00 ERA and a decent amount of strikeouts is not too much to ask for.
1. Is this the year Logan Morrison puts it all together?
Morrison has been criticized in the past for dogging it. But with Guillen as his manager, Morrison better get with it or he’ll find himself in Guillen’s doghouse.
Morrison made headlines last year for being demoted to the minors despite putting up some decent numbers. The demotion was supposedly not for baseball-related reasons, but more as a punishment for the Twitter-loving personality.
As Spring Training begins in earnest, Morrison is acting responsibly and is said to be fully healed from the arthroscopic procedure done to his knee in the offseason.
This very well could be Morrison’s breakout season. A .290+ batting average, 20-30 home runs and 90-100 RBI’s is well within reach of this young slugger.
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