2011 FLORIDA MARLINS PREVIEW
Prediction: 4th in the NL East
Team Strengths: Superstar SS Hanley Ramirez is one of the elite talents in the game… Ace RH Josh Johnson… Exciting young talent all over the field, hi-lighted by OFs Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison… Improved bullpen in off season via trades and free agent signings…. Veteran RHSP Javier Vasquez has always pitched well in the NL and helps a young,talented rotation…. C John Buck one of the smarter off season signings in all of baseball
Team Weaknesses: Lose Dan Uggla’s 30 homer, 90 rbi bat at 2nd base. Not an easy slot to fill. Look it up…. Uncertain 3B situation after top prospect Matt Dominguez struggled in spring training….CF Chris Coghlan has battled health issues throughout camp and is a big part of this club….. Closer Leo Nunez helps antacid sales every time he enters the game… While young and athletic, the Marlins tend to struggle defensively, making errors in big spots, often at the wrong time… Rotation features 5 right handers
1B Gaby Sanchez
2B Omar Infante
3B Donnie Murphy, Greg Dobbs, Emilio Bonifacio
RH Ricky Nolasco
RH Anibal Sanchez
2011 Season Predictions
AL: New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriquez
NL: St Louis Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols
AL: Boston Red Sox LH Jon Lester
NL: Philadelphia Phillies RH Roy Halladay
Rookie of the Year
AL: Chicago White Sox LHP Chris Sale
NL: Atlanta Braves 1B Freddie Freeman
Manager of the Year
AL: Oakland A’s Bob Geren
NL: Milwaukee Brewers Ron Roenicke
AL: Boston, Minnesota, Oakland, Chicago(Wild Card)
NL: Atlanta, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Philadelphia(Wild Card)
Busy, busy time for the Florida Marlins in the final week of spring training with several news worthy stories of note.
1- 2007 draft pick 3B Matt Dominguez, the organizations top prospect, was sent down to Triple A New Orleans today(March 24) after posting a .190 batting average(8 for 42) with 2 home runs and 10 rbi. “We thought that he was pressing a little bit and that he was taking his offense to the field, that’s not him,” Manager Edwin Rodriquez said. With some work at Triple A, the Marlins hope the plus fielder could return sometime during the 2011 season. Rodriquez will platoon Donnie Murphy and Emilio Bonifacio at 3rd while Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs are the top bats off the bench.
2- RHSP Ricky Nolasco, the Marlins #2 starter, finally pitched a strong outing Wednesday(March 23) allowing 3 runs in a 71 pitch, 5 inning start vs the Atlanta Braves. In 3 spring starts, he is 0-2 with a 14.00 ERA over 9 innings.
3- CF Chris Coghlan, returning from offseason left knee surgery, has been dealing with pain in his throwing shoulder but played in a minor league scrimmage Thursday(March 24). He hopes to play Friday vs the Mets and still plans on being in the line-up opening day.
4- Florida RF Mike Stanton made his spring debut Thursday(March 24), promptly launching two 3 run homers vs Boston Red Sox stud starter Clay Bucholz in a 15-7 Marlins victory. Stanton missed the first 24 Grapefruit league games with a right quad strain but appeared to be season ready after he struck out on 4 pitches in the first. FANTASY ALERT: Take Stanton…. HIGH!!!
5- I already liked the feel and direction of this franchise but then I received the latest issue of USA Today’s Sports Weekly(March 23-29 date) and checked out the article about new 1st base coach Perry Hill. A known defensive specialist with an incredible track record, his drills and results are well known through out the game. As example, Hill was hired by the Detroit Tigers in 1997 and they became the first major league team to go from worst to first in fielding percentage. 3 ex- Marlin players- 2B Luis Castillo(3 times), 1B Derek Lee and 3B Mike Lowell- won gold gloves while working with Hill. With so many young pitchers in both the rotation and pen, not giving away outs is a key. Very underrated hire for the Marlins.
As the season opener approaches, the Florida Marlins are working to determine their starting third baseman while some key components of the pitching staff are rounding into form. The organizations top prospect, Matt Dominguez, could be at 3B to open the season but has hit only .194 in 36 spring at bats thru Sunday(March 20th). He does however have a team high 2 home runs and 10 rbi. The Marlins are being careful with the youngster and will not keep him up with the big club if he cannot handle breaking stuff. Should be an interesting week the California native.
RH Anibal Sanchez pitched 5 shut out innings Sunday March 20th vs division rival New York. In his first start since being skipped due to a shin bruise, he allowed 5 hits in the 5-0 victory. Top reliever Clay Hensley was extended over 2 innings in Saturday’s 5-4 vs the St Louis Cardinals by the design of Florida manager Edwin Rodriquez. He tossed the 8th and 9th innings stranding the potential winning run to earn a save.
Other camp notes: 3 fourths of the Marlins infield looks outstanding as SS Hanley Ramirez, 2B Omar Infante and 1B Gaby Sanchez all are hitting over .350 thru March 20th. 3B- pinch hitter Gregg Dobbs also has had a solid camp with a .400 batting average in 30 at bats. CF Emilio Bonifacio tops the club with 4 steals….Store this name away: RHP Elih Villanueva, who in 4 games(1 start) has a 1-0 record and 1.38 era with 7 Ks over 13 innings. The former Florida State Seminole was reassigned to a minor league camp Sunday(March 20th) and will be part of Triple A New Orleans rotation
RHP Ricky Nolasco(Jammed right thumb) will make his spring training debut Sunday(March 13th) against the Washington Nationals after he threw a bullpen session Thursday(March 10th) without incident. Nolasco’s injury occurred prior to Spring training and he has been working on his conditioning with several throwing sessions both in the bullpen and live batting practice. The talented righty was 14-10 with a 4.51 ERA in 2010, He remains on schedule to make his start in Game 2 of the season Saturday April 2nd vs the New York Mets. With 54 wins, Nolasco ranks 2nd all time in franchise history.
Other Marlin news: INF-OF Chris Coghlan(off season left knee surgery) played back to back games earlier this week(Sunday, Monday) and sat out Wednesday’s(March 9th) game due to scheduling. He plans to play today(Thursday March 10th) as well as Friday(March 11th).. Top prospect Matt Dominquez has had an excellent start to spring, hitting .353 with 2 home runs and 10 rbi in 8 games(17 at bats).
Rest easy Marlins fans, Slugging stud OF Mike Stanton should be ok to start the 2011 season. Florida manager Edwin Rodriquez believes Stanton’s strained right quadriceps(Suffered February 27th) is not serious and he should be ready for the opener April 1st vs the New York Mets. The Marlins RF should resume training in close to 10 days but the skipper reports he is feeling better. INF Greg Dobbs is considered day to day after banging a knee Tuesday(March 1st) while RH starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco(Jammed thumb) will throw his 2nd bullpen session of camp Friday(March 4th) . OF-INF Chris Coghlan will not travel with the club on the road til mid March as he recovers from off season surgery on his left knee.
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