One of the main reasons I love Spring Training more than the preseasons in the other major sports, is how often players can play their way onto the big league rosters with a good Spring campaign. Save for the catchers (covered in Part One), I’m going to go infield to outfield, and detailing the possible position battles that could take place, with the most interesting ones, I believe, being 3rd base, and center field.
Mike Jacobs is firmly entrenched at first, and really has no competition to speak of. His backups, however aren’t exactly set in stone. Jorge Cantu and Luis Gonzalez (yes, THAT Luis Gonzalez) are the most likely candidates as of right now.
Also another fairly straight forward decision. Dan Uggla should be your Opening Day 2nd baseman. Cantu and Jose Castillo are going to be the primary backups.
Let me see, I think the Marlins SS from last year was fairly good. If only I could remember his name… Naturally I’m talking about All-Star-to-be Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez could have a very special season, IF he gets help in the lineup. I see a possible 3o HR’s, 50 2Bs, 100 RBIs, and 50 SB’s this year. Wow. If the Marlins make a little noise in the very strong NL East, Ramirez should be the reason.
This could be very, very interesting. Jorge Cantu, Dallas McPherson, and Jose Castillo all have a strong case to be the Opening Day starter at the hot corner. All three have the talent offensively and defensively to play every day, but consistency is the key. Will Cantu be the player he was two seasons ago in Tampa, or the expendable commodity that was shipped to Cincinnati for the last part of ’07? Can McPherson live up to the ’04 Minor League Player of the Year status? How about Castillo? Defensively, he’s solid, but is his bat too weak? Keep an eye on this, or go more in depth with this article at marlins.mlb.com
While it appears that Jeremy Hermida and Josh Willingham are going to start in RF and LF, respectively, center field is up for grabs. Super prospect Cameron Maybin, and last year’s fill-ins Alejandro de Aza and Cody Ross are all in the running for the job, and unless he has a really strong spring, I don’t think that Maybin will be the starter. Although he had a strong showing in Monday’s intrasquad scrimmage, ripping a RBI double in his first AB, I would really like to see the Marlins take their time with him, and bring him into the fold at the right time. He is only 20 years old, and they have time on their side.
While Spring Training games don’t count in the standings, this year more than ever, I think that they will have a big impact on the Marlins’ season.
Next in the Spring Training Preview: How will the Marlins fare in the loaded NL East? I may surprise you with what I think will happen.
Spring Training is here Marlins fans! Pitchers and catchers reported on Saturday, along with some position players also reporting. The rest of the team is scheduled to report Thursday (21st). While super-prospect Cameron Maybin reported early, I’m just going to focus on the potential candidates for the the rotation and the platoon behind the plate.
While it appears that the Opening Day rotation will comprise of Scott Olsen, Mark Hendrickson, Andrew Miller, and Sergio Mitre, the fifth spot is up for grabs. The most likely candidates for the fifth spot are a couple of Rick’s: Rick Vandenhurk and Ricky Nolasco. While young, for the most part, this staff is very talented, with Olsen and Miller being two of the National League’s most promising young arms. Fortunately, this team does not have to rely entirely on the starters to log quality innings, as the bullpen, I believe, is vastly underrated.
The Marlins’ bullpen logged the second most innings in the National League last year, at 586.2 innings, trailing only Washington by four (590.2). While the workload was immense, it allowed the Marlins to determine exactly what they had, as far as talent was concerned, in the later innings of games. Closer Kevin Gregg (32 saves in 36 chances) returns to the same role that he filled quite well last season. Lefties Renyel Pinto and Taylor Tankersley return to their middle relief and setup roles, while righties Justin Miller and Matt Lindstrom return from their solid ’07 seasons. But who exactly are they going to throw to?
The Men Behind The Masks
Matt Treanor returns behind the plate this year, and is currently penciled in as the starter this year. However Mike Rabelo, acquired in the Willis/Cabrera trade, will also see some time behind the dish. Neither catcher displayed tremendous skills with the bat last year, with Rabelo hitting .256 and Treanor barely besting him with a .269 average. Power will also not be expected, as the two catchers combined for 5 homeruns and 37 RBI in a total of 106 games last year. What these two catchers do provide, however, are two smart, defensive catchers that will definitely help this young staff. Rabelo, I believe, will be especially important to the development to Andrew Miller, as he caught for him last year in Detroit, and should soften the transition to the NL for Miller.
Well, that’s all I have for now, but keep checking back this week, as I will continue my Spring Training ’08 Outlook for the Marlins, with a position battle breakdown, and ultimately a prediction for the NL East this upcoming season.
With the signing of Dallas McPherson and the pending signing of Luis Gonzalez (pending physical, no official comment on Gonzo), I thought it would be a good idea to introduce a few of the newest additions to the Marlins’ family. Let’s start with the two aforementioned guys.
information compiled from press reports
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