Next up in our Offseason In Review series, the Marlins. Here's what we wrote about them on October 5th. Changes for 2009:
Additions: Leo Nunez, Scott Proctor, Kiko Calero, Jose Ceda, John Koronka, Emilio Bonifacio, Dan Meyer
Subtractions: Mike Jacobs, Kevin Gregg, Josh Willingham, Scott Olsen, Luis Gonzalez, Matt Treanor, Mark Hendrickson, Doug Waechter, Joe Nelson, Justin Miller
The Marlins' offense features changes for 2009. They subtracted cleanup hitter Jacobs, who supplied 32 home runs but also a .299 OBP. Gaby Sanchez may take his place. Outfielders Gonzalez and Willingham are gone, with their ABs to be picked up by Cameron Maybin. And Treanor is out at catcher, with John Baker assuming full-time duties. Last year's offense ranked 5th in the NL with 4.78 runs per game. The '09 crew projects to score 4.51 per game, based on CHONE projections and Baseball Musings' lineup analysis tool. Baseball Prospectus is more optimistic on Maybin; plugging in their projection brings the Fish to 4.62 runs per game.
The rotation, which posted a 4.66 ERA in 916 innings last year, will subtract the 52 starts made by Olsen and Hendrickson in favor of more innings for Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad, Andrew Miller, and Anibal Sanchez. Staff ace Ricky Nolasco will get the Opening Day assignment. These five are projected to post an aggregate ERA of 4.26, so it'll be a solid rotation if healthy. I think the Marlins can handle the loss of Olsen, though I wasn't particularly impressed with the trade bounty received. The trade of Olsen and Willingham was yet another Marlins salary dump.
The bullpen lost several key players, so the Marlins will need strong (and healthy) years from closer Matt Lindstrom as well as imports Nunez and Proctor. It really wouldn't have cost much to have retained Nelson.
According to The Fielding Bible II, the Marlins' defense ranked 8th in the NL last year. Replacing Jacobs with Sanchez would be an obvious gain. Same goes for the addition of Maybin and subtraction of Gonzalez in the outfield (Maybin will play center).
The Marlins allowed 767 runs last year. Assuming the bullpen does not implode and the rotation stays semi-healthy they should be able to improve on that. I can see the Fish winning 83-84 games again, improving in pitching and defense but losing a bit offensively.
Bottom line: It's the typical Marlins refrain: good team, imagine what they could do with a payroll. They still have enough above-average young players where 3-4 well-timed breakouts could push them into contention.