The Miami Marlins will be heading into 2014 following a 2013 campaign in which they were terrible by design after stripping the team down to the bare-bones of prospects and bargain-bin veterans. This was in stark contrast to their 2012 season, which was when the team was just a big, expensive misadventure that resulted in
Jeffery Loria and friends laughing all the way to the bank with their brand-new, mostly publicly-financed stadium Marlins management having to explain why their inaugural season in Marlins Park was such a disaster. So, it wasn’t a surprise that the Miami Marlins had a 100-loss season in 2013. Will they be as bad this year as they were last year?
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (3 yrs, $21 MM)
1B Garrett Jones (2 yrs, $7.75 MM)
2B Rafael Furcal (1 yr, $3 MM)
3B Casey McGehee (1 yr, $1.1 MM)
UTIL Jeff Baker (2 yrs, $3.7 M)
OF Brian Bogusevic (traded from CHC)
RP Carlos Marmol (1 yr, $1.25 M)
The Marlins have a clean bill of health thus far this Spring. Furcal and Baker are dealing with nagging injuries that have them listed as "day-to-day" but other than that, there are no major injury concerns for the Marlins as they head into the 2014 season.
State of the Squad
Despite having some decent prospects that will definitely be afforded plenty of playing time this season, the 2014 Miami Marlins will basically be "Fernandez, Stanton, and Friends." The "friends" part mostly has to do with the current status of the infield, which is about as bare of a cupboard as you’ll see in the National League in 2014. Saltalamacchia figures to be the best infielder on the squad. When that honor goes to a catcher, you aren’t exactly in a position of power. Oliver projects ol’ Salty to be a 2-win player in 2014 (with a batting line of .230/.308/.406 with 96 wRC+ and 20 HRs). The rest of the infield includes Jones at first, Furcal at second, McGehee at third, and Adeiny Hechavarria manning shortstop. ZiPS projects that infield to accumulate a grand total of 3.5 WAR. In comparison, ZiPS projects Freddie Freeman to post 3.2 WAR by himself. To put it very bluntly, that ain't good.
The outfield figures to be much better than the infield, though that is mostly due the presence of Giancarlo Stanton in Right Field. Stanton will probably have another solid season at the plate, with all major projection models figuring that Stanton will hit 30+ HRs with a line around .260/.360/.500 and upwards of 150 wRC+. The other two outfielders pale in comparison, but they’re young and they have plenty of upside. After making 70 appearances last season, Marcell Ozuna will be starting in center this season, but will probably make more noise with his glove than with his bat. Christian Yelich will be the young one to keep an eye on here, as the leftfielder figures to have more upside than Ozuna.
The pitching staff is actually better than most think. Everyone knows about their ace Jose Fernandez, who absolutely lit South Florida on fire every time he took the mound in 2013, and capped off his season by hitting a HR and nearly kicking off a Pier 6 brawl against our boys (and resulted in this hilarious photo. Take a look to the right). Fernandez will probably have another solid season in 2014, and personally, I’m predicting that he’ll be in the running for a Cy Young if all goes well. The rest of the rotation isn’t as good, but there’s still a halfway decent rotation here. Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Jacob Turner are all very capable pitchers, with Alvarez and Eovaldi both having a nice bit of upside to go with their young age. The bullpen is headed by closer Steve Cishek, who has definitely been reliable when called upon (34 saves with ERA- & FIP- in the low-to-mid 60s last season) and figures to be so again heading into 2014. The outlook for the rest of the bullpen isn’t exactly as rosy, and the Braves’ lineup was probably very happy to see Carlos Marmol enter the division.
Unless they happen to go on a magical run like something you’d see in "Major League" (or one of the other movies from a vast collection of films where a ragtag band of misfits rallies together to become successful), the Marlins are probably not going to come close to contending for the division crown or wild card. The goal appears to be for them simply not to lose 100 games for a second consecutive year. While the offense looks to be completely anemic outside of Stanton, the pitching should be decent enough to make sure that the team isn’t a complete dumpster fire like they were last season. They’ll still lose 90+ games, but there are enough young bright spots on Manager Mike Redmond's squad that if things go completely off the rails in New York or Philadelphia, they’ll be able to make a push for 4th while having a decent-to-nice outlook towards their
next firesale future. But until then, they’ll probably be spending plenty of time in the NL East’s cellar in 2014.