- Cynics would suggest that playing up the five aces — Josh Johnson, Andrew Miller, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad — is good marketing for the Marlins. The irrationale in saying that is that there is no knowing what owner like Jeffrey Loria and team president David Samson, will dream up to irritate slugging shortstop Hanley Ramírez.
Ramírez is signed through 2014. It's tempting to snark off that at least the team he'll be traded to will have some cost certainty.
- Jeffrey Loria bought his way into baseball for only $15 million (all terms US) in 1999 and is now getting a big honking stadium that is slated to cost $515 million. All this for someone who's worse for baseball than the big-spending Yankees.
- The Marlins basically are the Harry Sinden-era Boston Bruins: "Championships cost too much." An 84-77 record in 2008 from an organization ranked as the second-worst in baseball is a triumph of smarts and, well, the human spirit. Having 17 games against the Washington Nationals certainly helps too (the Marlins went 14-3 in the Loria Cup).
- The NL East is the shortstop division: Ramírez, the Mets' José Reyes, the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins and Washington's Cristian Guzmán are ranked 1-2-3-4 in The Beep's pre-season projections. There is a big drop-off after the first guy.
- Centrefielder Cameron Maybin (pictured) is a pretty good bet for rookie of the year. The Marlins' account is overdrawn, though, since the past five seasons have shown that Arizona's Brandon Webb would have been a better pick than Dontrelle Willis in 2003.
- One big X factor is how well switch-hitting Emilio Bonifacio and Maybin work out as the table-setters. Each has speed to burn, for what's that's worth, but you know how that chapter ends ... Ramírez, Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu and Cody Ross (22 homers last season, albeit 10 in one month alone) are decent middle of the order.
- The Marlins should get credit for putting out a decent team when they have no extended market outside their home city. The Jays, for instance, can pull in fans from all over Ontario; Miami's surrounded by water on three sides.
- Copying the Yankees' ban on longish hair and jewelry would have been stupid even if Ramirez had been OK with it (which he wasn't, as you know). The Marlins don't need to follow the Yankees' lead. They have actually won a World Series this millennium.
- Their over/under for victories is 76. The over is doable.
- The Marlins won the World Series six seasons ago and won six seasons prior to that, and at least one person who might not be that serious is taking them to do it again.
- Johnson, who lost a season and a half to elbow surgery, had a 3.61 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 14 starts last season. The ERA would have been lower with some better fielding behind time.
- Ricky Nolasco, who is getting some all-star buzz after posting a 3.52 ERA and 186 strikeouts in his first full season, came to Florida in a 3-for-1 trade with the Cubs. Juan Pierre was the one going the other way, so score that for the Fish.
- New closer Matt Lindstrom will not miss Opening Day, after all.
- Marlins GM Larry Beinfest runs the team brilliant on a shoe string, which raises the question of what he would do with a franchise which wasn't first, second and 99th about wringing out every last dollar of profit. Thing is, he's been in his position seven years and no one has snapped him up.
- No one asked, but third baseman Emilio Bonifacio (5-foot-11, 180 lbs.) would seem to fit the profile of a second baseman better than Dan Uggla (listed at 5-11, 200) and vice versa. That being said, the Marlins, according to The Beep, went from being one of the worst fielding teams in 2007 to one of the better ones in 2008.
- And that being said, save your breath trying to convince anyone Uggla has a decent glove at second base after he made those three errors in that mid-season exhibition game last July at Yankee Stadium.
- It's quite amazing manager Fredi Gonzalez didn't get fined for joking, "We didn't get Bonds?" when the Marlins had to pick up an extra lefty hitter.
- They signed Ross Gload to be their lefty bat off the bench. He's not quite Barry Bonds.
- Wait, outfielder Jeremy Hermida also hits left-handed. His name has been strangely absent from the pre-season forecasts. That's what happens when you drop by 140 points in on-base-plus-slugging.
- Catcher Matt Treanor, the spouse of beach volleyball star Misty May, was traded to Detroit, which has far fewer beaches than Miami.
- Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg doesn't wear the ring he got from Loria and Samson after they fired him in 2003 and the Marlins went on to win the World Series:
"The only thing it has ever been out of its case for is my kids took it to Show and Tell when they were younger. I would never wear it. I would wear minor-league rings before I'd ever wear anything that those people were surrounded by. I have a gun safe where I keep my important paperwork, but I would never think about putting that ring in because if I lost it, it wouldn't bother me." — Palm Beach Post
- The all-Dickensian name team would have to include Florida farmhand Brett Sinkbeil, who does throw a sinkerball.
- Uggla's last name means "owl" in Sweden. By the way, Sager is a Swedish verb for "says." You can learn amazing things if you download How I Met Your Mother episodes with foreign subtitles.
Opening Day in the Swedish Elitserien baseball league is April 25, incidentally.
- Ramírez, as pro athletes tend to do, named his first-born son Hanley Jr., but here's hoping his younger son, Hansel, makes the majors just so some announcer in 2032 can say, "That Hansel, he's so hot right now."
- The post-season is probably a year away.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Batter up: Florida Marlins
It's that mystical, wonderful time of year where you commit to a team who you know fully well won't win. This season, in honour of an popular Internet meme, we'll present 25 things about each Major League Baseball team. At bat: The Florida Marlins.