After a an injury plagued 72-90 2011 campaign look for Florida Marlins to be major players in free agency and the trade market in 2012. With the influx of revenue from their new home in downtown Miami, this team wants and needs to make a big splash. A big middle of the order bat, starting pitching and late inning reliever have to be on the wish list of Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest. Lets take a look at possible target areas.
SLUGGER: Rumors all over the internet about the Marlins being linked to the top two names in the 2012 free agent class, First Basemen Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals and Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers. Florida’s 1B Gaby Sanchez made the 2011 NL all star team and is a solid run producer but not an elite stick like these two. A signing could clear way for a position change or trade. 3B is a need area for the Marlins as well with top prospect Matt Dominguez definitely in the mix. Chicago Cub free agent 3B Aramis Ramirez would make a lot of sense at this spot. Veteran INF Greg Dobbs manned the hot corner for Florida in 2011 but is more of a situational lefty bat of the bench at this point in his career. If the team decides to trade LF Logan Morrison, a corner OF bat might be needed. But based on his history with talented but high maintenance players, I think new Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen wants to try to make Morrison the player everyone thinks he can become.
STARTING PITCHING: Many around the game expect RHP Javier Vasquez to retire at the age of 35. Young veterans Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad and Anibal Sanchez will be in the rotation again while ace Josh Johnson should be healthy when the team breaks camp after missing most of 2011 with right shoulder inflammation. This is an area that Marlins figure to spend serious dollars on and a lefty is needed on this righty dominated starting staff. Texas Rangers LHSP C.J. Wilson has to be on the top of the the teams list while veteran long time Chicago White Sox LH Mark Buehrle should be another name to remember. Florida has some depth and kids but needs a top of the rotation arm to compete with the big boys in the NL East.
BULLPEN: While this unit was greatly improved in 2011 after a disastrous 2010, they still have needs. Due to closer Leo Nunez continuing legal problems(He is currently on the restricted list due to an identity issue in his home land, the Dominican Republic) , the team needs to focus on signing a 9th inning man. San Diego Padres Heath Bell, Milwaukee Brewers Francisco Rodriquez, Boston Red Sox Jonathan Papelbon and Philadephia Phillies Ryan Madson are the top free agent closers and the Marlins are sure to target one of them. Bell makes a lot of sense in Miami. The rest of pen remains solid with veteran RHPs Edward Mujica and Clay Hensley joining Lefties Mike Dunn and Randy Choate to man the set up group.
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