Tuesday, March 08, 2005


2005 Season Preview: Florida Marlins

I am saying that Florida will come in second, only because I have to choose someone. I am actually not really sure yet if Florida or Philly will take second place, but based on the past few choke jobs of the Phillies I'll go with Florida.

Antonio Alfonseca, RP: Gives the Marlins another competitor for the closer position along with Guillermo Mota and Todd Jones. That is all I have to say really, because he is a decent pitcher who the Braves will probably miss more than the Marlins will need him.

Carlos Delgado, 1B: The winner of the Delgado sweepstakes turned out to be Florida, and I commend them for signing him (probably helped in securing that new stadium deal soon after). I do want to comment on something though, and that is the fact that in the 2004 offseason they couldn’t afford Derrek Lee (4 years younger than Delgado and better defensively, not to mention much cheaper) and had to trade him to the Cubs. But then miraculously after a disappointing 2004 season where they missed the playoffs they have the cash to sign Delgado. I just wish owners would be truthful ya know, especially in a place like Florida where championship teams have been disbanded out of spite.

Damion Easley, 2B: Honestly I don’t know. Hit .238 but walked some. Hit 20 doubles in limited duty. Meh. I am not sure if he is a useful part or a roster fill in, but at least he is not under that horrendous Detroit contract any longer.

Lenny Harris, Pinch Hitter: That is all he does. He used to do it well, very well actually, which made him worth the spot on the 25 man roster. Now he isn’t worth the spot on the 40 man roster, yet he retains it. Oh Marlins.

Todd Jones, RP: OK with Cincy, not as good with Philly, gets a nice raise in 05’ from the Marlins. Ugh.

Al Leiter, SP: 4 bad moves deserves one good one, right? Al Leiter of 05’ won’t be Pavano of 04’, but at least he isn’t Russ Ortiz and it is only a one-year deal. Pretty good year in 04’ (except for the strikeout rate), and considering that he is in line for $8 million the Marlins did excellent. Oh Kris Benson, how I mock your contract so. Then again his strikeout rates are dropping, so he could be a ticking time bomb as far as walking the thin line of luck goes. I guess we’ll see.

Mike Lowell, 3B: Wouldn’t you want Mike Lowell? Considering I believe he is making Orlando Cabrera’s salary to hit .293/.365/.505 I’ll take it.

Jim Mecir, RP: Does well against lefties, go screwball.

Matt Perisho, RP: Had his best season last year, but that isn’t really saying much. He probably isn’t going to get much better, but he probably won’t hurt as much as in the past (unless last year was a fluke of course).

John Riedling, RP: I don’t understand this signing, but I don’t really know his minor league track record or anything. This is the kind of reliever bad teams keep, not ones trying to become division favorites.

Ismael Valdez, SP: Kudos to the Marlins for not overpaying for his 14 wins. Rounds out the rotation, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

1) Juan Pierre
2) Luis Castillo
3) Carlos Delgado
4) Miguel Cabrera
5) Mike Lowell
6) Paul Lo Duca
7) Alex Gonzalez
8) Juan Encarnacion (.......)

The 1-5 spots in this lineup are actually pretty scary when you write them all down and look at them. Lo Duca will hit for average until August too, so 1-6 will be dangerous until then. Besides having Juan Encarnacion in the lineup, there is really nothing wrong with it. In fact, it is really good. Jeff Conine might be a lot older than Encarnacion, but I think I'd prefer his declining skills to the black hole in right field known as Juan (JE: .236/.299/.405...JC: .280/.340/.432)

1) Josh Beckett
2) A.J. Burnett
3) Dontrelle Willis
4) Al Leiter
5) Ismael Valdez

Beckett's constant blisters may actually be a blessing in disguise for Florida, as they have kept his workload down during the young arm injury years. A.J. Burnett, if healthy, should be great for this team, especially since I think he is better than Beckett. Willis is probably not as good as his first half of his rookie year, but better than last year. Expect better things from him in the future. Al Leiter, if his arm doesn't fall off, will definitely be capable at least as a #4 starter. Ismael Valdez is like the Juan Encarnacion of this pitching staff for me. Why couldn't they just sign someone else? Isn't there a young pitcher in the farm system or something? Overall this rotation has the potential to be one of the best in the majors, but like the Cubs rotation it all comes down to injuries.

Guillermo Mota, Antonio Alfonseca, Todd Jones, Jim Mecir and a few others will anchor the bullpen, with Mota taking the closing role until he fails. I don't really expect him to fail, but the Marlins got Alfonseca and Jones just incase that happens. Of course if it gets to a point where Todd Jones is a better option, your probably already in third place with the Mets breathing down your neck.

Overall I think this team can take second place easily, and if everything comes together (meaning the rotation and the bullpen) than they can more than challenge the Braves title streak. Of course if any one of the young pitchers is injured than it is an entirely different story. Notice Ismael Valdez in the 5th spot; do you think if they could do better than him than they would? Imagine if Beckett gets a blister and Burnett's elbow acts up again? Or Leiter's shoulder finally gives out? The Marlins are capable of winning a ton of games, or quietly fading into nothingness come August. It should be a great NL East race this season.

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