2014 Season Preview: Miami Marlins
2013 Record and Finish: 62-100, fifth place in NL East (29th overall)
2014 Projected Record and Finish: 65-97, fifth place in NL East
The Case For
In an effort to change a culture of losing (the Marlins haven’t made the playoffs since they won the World Series in 2003, and their last winning season was in 2009), new general manager Dan Jennings brought in veterans who’ve had success on two continents. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia won the 2013 World Series with the Red Sox, third baseman Casey McGehee won the 2013 Japan Series as a Rakuten Golden Eagle, and second baseman Rafael Furcal has been on playoff teams in 10 of his 13 seasons, winning a ring with the Cardinals in 2011. They will provide an example for the outstanding young players Miami has developed, all or most of whom should take steps forward. "It’s tough to ask young guys to go out there and have big years," said manager Mike Redmond, "but we need some big years."
The Case Against
The pitching will be good, but outside of rightfielder Giancarlo Stanton, the offense is basically unproven. The team that scored the fewest runs in baseball by a wide margin didn’t do enough this offseason to address the deficit, and it will show. Coming off what utilityman Ed Lucas referred to as a "lost season," more of the same is likely in store for 2014. That won't be helped if Miami trades off what little established talent it has (closer Steve Cishek comes to mind) in favor, once again, of next year.
X-Factor: Christian Yelich
As Christian Yelich goes, so will go the Marlins. He has one of the sweetest swings around and a good eye at the plate, but his 24.2 percent strikeout rate last year would have put him 18th in baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. If he lives up to his tremendous potential, he and Stanton will give the Marlins perhaps the strongest 2–3 punch in the league.
Number To Know: 804
Games started by Marlins age 25-and-under in 2013. (The National League average was 348.9.) As of March 13, 15 players on the Marlins' 40-man roster—including their projected top four starting pitchers, all three starting outfielders and the starting shortstop—will be 25 or younger.
Most overrated: Jacob Turner
"Jacob Turner's probably a No. 5 starter. He's missing that swing-and-miss pitch you need at the big league level to have strikeouts and he has no plus breaking pitch. He's become more of a finesse pitcher—it's funny to say that when he throws low 90s, but in today's world, that's what it is."
Most underrated: Tom Koehler
"One of the most undervalued guys out there is Tom Koehler. He has four pitches: Mid-90s fastball, changeup, curve, cutter. The change is coming along fine, but the slider's the out pitch. He had a really good second half. He just needs experience and to command his fastball."
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