NL East Tour: Florida Marlins
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NL East Tour: Florida Marlins
Matt Gelb, Inquirer Staff Writer
Matt Gelb here, still with the keys while Andy's on vacation. Over the course of this week, we will analyze what the rest of the NL East has done this offseason in an attempt to knock the Phillies off their three-year perch atop the division. The teams have made most of their moves, so we'll take a look at where they stand leading up to spring training.
Tuesday -- Atlanta Braves
Wednesday -- New York Mets
Thursday -- Florida Marlins
Friday -- Washington Nationals
2009 record: (87-75, 2nd place, 6 GB -- 772 runs scored, 766 runs allowed)
Last season in 140 characters or less: Lowest payroll in the majors? So what. Florida stuck around until September with a ragtag bunch of rookies and overlooked players.
In with the new: LHP Hunter Jones, RHP Clay Hensley, SS Donnie Murphy, RHP Scott Strickland,
Out with the old: RHP Kiko Calero, 1B Nick Johnson, RF Jeremy Hermida, RHP Brendan Donnelly, 1B Ross Gload, Alfredo Amezaga, RHP Matt Lindstrom,
Biggest move: Not trading Dan Uggla
Uggla was the hot rumor all offseason. With the second baseman due a raise in arbitration this offseason, the Marlins wanted to deal him away. He was linked to various teams around the majors, but the Marlins had trouble finding an agreement they liked. Now, with the edict to spend more money from the Commissioner's Office, Uggla could very well be on the Marlins' Opening Day roster -- a possibility that seemed highly unlikely a few months ago. It's possible the Marlins agree to terms with Uggla on a one-year deal, have him start the season with the team and then try to move him again before the trade deadline. He has his faults, especially on defense, but Uggla hit 31 home runs and drove in 90 runs last season.
Underrated move: Nov. 5, 2009 -- Traded RF Jeremy Hermida to Boston Red Sox for LHP Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez
The Marlins finally gave up on Hermida, the former first-round draft pick from 2002. Hermida never hit more than 18 home runs in a season or post an OPS above .870 in a full campaign. He struck out too many times and proved he wasn't an everyday player. So it's notable that the Marlins decided to cut ties with Hermida -- not so much for what they received in return, but for what it means in the current outfield. Cody Ross will likely shift to right field for good and Cameron Maybin will take over center field. Maybin, who was acquired in the Miguel Cabrera trade a few years back, started the 2009 with the Marlins before being demoted midseason. But he dominated triple-A and then hit .293 in September after his recall to the majors. He looks ready to play regularly.
Riskiest move: Playing hardball with Josh Johnson
He's the Florida ace, but it's time to pay Johnson and the Marlins are wavering. Johnson has two years of arbitration left, so he will definitely be a Marlin in 2010. But beyond that is shaky. The two sides have been negotiating all offseason and appear to be far apart. Johnson is reportedly looking for an extension similar to what Kansas City star Zack Greinke received last winter, a four-year $38.5 million deal. The Marlins have reportedly offered as much as three years and $22 million. If the two sides cannot agree to a contract this season, Johnson's agent said he will not consider signing a multi-year deal next offseason. At that point, Johnson could be one of the hottest commodities on the market and due some big-time cash. The Marlins don't spend, but this is one time where they should seriously consider it.
C John Baker -- He started the majority of games and proved he could handle it. The Marlins will take a catcher with a .759 OPS.
1B Logan Morrison -- He's never played above double-A, but the Marlins believe he can win the starting job.
2B Dan Uggla -- It's been a contentious offseason for Uggla, who wants a raise. That meant the Marlins tried to trade him, to no avail.
3B Jorge Cantu -- Cantu played most of the time at first last year. Third base is his to lose after a 100-RBI season.
SS Hanley Ramirez -- He's one of the premiere players in the game. His steals (27) were down, but the batting average (.342) was way up.
LF Chris Coghlan -- The reigning rookie of the year, Coghlan has excellent plate discipline and is a good top-of-the-order guy.
CF Cameron Maybin -- The starting job is Maybin's, the 22-year-old phenom who struggled last season.
RF Cody Ross -- The pesky outfielder finished with 24 home runs and 90 RBI, both career highs. He strikes out a lot, though.
RHP Josh Johnson -- Is this his last season with the Marlins? When healthy, Johnson is one of the most dominant around.
RHP Ricky Nolasco -- The home runs became an issue for Nolasco, but he remains a good strikeout pitcher.
RHP Anibal Sanchez -- Durability is always the concern with Sanchez, who has never started more than 17 games in one season.
RHP Chris Volstad -- He'll need a good spring to secure this spot. Control is the problem for Volstad, who walked 3.3 batters per nine innings.
LHP Sean West -- The rotation is far from set in stone. The last two spots are up for grabs between Volstad, West, Rick VandenHurk, Andrew Miller and Hayden Penn.
Key bullpen figures:
RHP Leo Nunez -- He took over the closer's role midseason and saved 26 games after never having saved a game in his five-year career.
LHP Renyel Pinto -- Pinto struck out 58 batters in 61 innings but walked 45. That needs to improve.
LHP Dan Meyer -- Converted to a reliever full time, Meyer was impressive. His strikeout to walk ratio was 2.67.
RHP Brian Sanches -- Someone needs to step in and replace Calero and Lindstrom. Sanches, the former Phillie, could be the guy.
The Skinny: They don't spend much -- ever -- but the Marlins always find a way to compete. No, they have not made any notable additions whatsoever, but there is still a little bit of time to do so. And even if the Marlins don't make any moves, they have a decent enough offense and rotation to stay in the race. But is there enough talent to do more than just hang around?