3 Florida Marlins This talented young bunch needed a leader. They got themselves a Rock

March 25, 2002
March 25, 2002

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March 25, 2002

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3 Florida Marlins This talented young bunch needed a leader. They got themselves a Rock

On his first day in the Marlins' clubhouse in February, Tim
Raines was treated as a cross between Yoda, Jesus and, well, a
guy with 22 years of big league experience. Some of the Marlins'
guppies were too intimidated to make eye contact. Others smiled
sheepishly from afar. Cliff Floyd, the 29-year-old All-Star
outfielder, shook his hand and insisted that Raines take Floyd's
number 30, which Raines has worn for most of his career.

This is an article from the March 25, 2002 issue Original Layout

"You are number 30," said Floyd. "You're the Man around here."

"Nah, don't worry," said Raines, shooing Floyd away. "You've
earned it."

It's easy to suggest that last year's Marlins, an early
wild-card hopeful that wilted into an 86-loss creep show, were
done in by a mediocre bullpen and an offense that went from
powerful to punchless. Truth is, Florida was an immature crew in
need of a captain. Or, more appropriately, a Rock.

"When we had distractions, nobody knew how to handle it," says
Floyd. "We were stupid, and we had no one to wake us up."

Enter Raines, 42, one of the game's great clubhouse stabilizers.
When the Marlins signed him as a free agent, it was not to add a
basestealing threat atop the lineup (Raines, who has 808 career
stolen bases, hasn't swiped more than 10 since 1996) or to
bolster a suspect outfield. (He hasn't played regularly in six
seasons.) No, Raines is here because Florida is long on young
talent and short on guidance counselors.

Last year, in no particular order, Florida:

--Staged a minicoup against manager John Boles, who after a
22-26 start was ripped by reliever Dan Miceli for having no
major league playing experience. Boles was fired shortly
thereafter. "Bolesie lost the players," says Floyd, "and that
can't happen."

--Grumbled among themselves about perceived mistreatment by
ownership. "Seven or eight times the entire team went to
downtown Miami to [help ownership] drum up support for a new
stadium," says Floyd. "But when we wanted certain foods and a
new TV in the clubhouse, we got nothing. That kind of thing gets
to you."

--Stopped hustling and played selfishly. Floyd admitted during
spring training that last season he had focused more on his stats
than on winning. "I found myself trying to hit .300, get 30 home
runs, drive in 100 runs," he says. "Those are fine numbers, but
what kind of attitude is that?"

On the first full day of workouts, new manager Jeff Torborg, who
came to Florida with former Expos owner Jeff Loria, spoke to his
men behind closed doors for nearly an hour, insisting that this
was a team talented enough to reach the playoffs. According to
several players the meeting was uplifting. "You can't help but be
excited," says Floyd. "The attitude is 100 percent different."

Having Raines on board helps. On his second day with the team
the seven-time All-Star sat at a clubhouse table surrounded by a
dozen Marlins while he told stories and cracked jokes. By week's
end he was analyzing hitting with Floyd, centerfielder Preston
Wilson and third baseman Mike Lowell, and shooting the breeze
with a handful of the team's young players. "He speaks, we
listen," says Lowell. "His experience is invaluable. He's just
so positive."

Why shouldn't he be? While playing for Oakland in 1999, Raines
learned he had lupus, a rare autoimmune disease that led to his
immediate retirement. However, after missing the 2000 season, he
came back last year, hitting .308 in 47 games with the Expos,
then joined the Orioles in September to play alongside his son,
outfielder Tim Raines Jr. The Marlins signed him to a one-year,
$350,000 contract in February, and Raines says this is his last

"I see this as a chance for me to pinch-hit, play a little
outfield and, most important, lead by example and by words," says
Raines. "There's enough talent here. Sometimes a team just needs
to find the right path."

In Florida that should be easy. Just follow the guy
wearing...number 32. --J.P.

COLOR PHOTO: ELIOT SCHECHTER/GETTY IMAGES As they stumbled into fourth place, Alex Gonzalez and the Marlins couldn't get out of their own way.COLOR PHOTO: ANDY LYONS/GETTY IMAGES CLEMENT

The Marlins lost more games (24) in their opponents' last at bat
than any other team in the majors last season.

an opposing team's scout sizes up the Marlins

"The Marlins are lacking a little in the bullpen, especially
from the lefthanded side.... Antonio Alfonseca had a horrible
last month and a half. God knows how old he is. He's closed for
three years, and he's been so-so. But if you don't take good
care of your body, which he doesn't, your arm starts to wear
down.... Ryan Dempster is a No. 2 or 3. I love the kid's
makeup--he battles and competes very well. But last year he
didn't look very comfortable. He had control problems, and maybe
that got into his head.... A.J. Burnett and Brad Penny are both
potential No. 1s. Burnett has the better stuff, but Penny's
makeup makes him the better pitcher. His fastball reaches 95,
and he has a power curve. He's also a bulldog, the kind of guy
you don't wanna meet in a dark alley.... I heard that the
Marlins' new coaches say they've figured out Matt Clement's
problem, and it's that he throws across his body. That's b.s. He
just lacks concentration. He's been throwing across his body
since I scouted him in high school. If you eliminated guys who
throw across their body, 20 Hall of Fame pitchers would have
never existed.... I saw where Jeff Torborg compared Charles
Johnson with Pudge. Ha! He doesn't move real well back there
anymore, and his body isn't young anymore.... I give up on
Derrek Lee. When the Marlins got him, they thought he'd
consistently hit 30 homers and drive in 120. He just has too
many holes in his swing.... Alex Gonzalez can't hit breaking
balls, and he makes no adjustments at the plate. You wonder if
he's even trying."

projected roster with 2001 statistics


2B Luis Castillo S-R 126 .262 2 45 33
CF Preston Wilson R 59 .274 23 71 20
LF Cliff Floyd L-R 34 .317 31 103 18
RF Kevin Millar R 104 .314 20 85 0
3B Mike Lowell R 109 .283 18 100 1
1B Derrek Lee R 132 .282 21 75 4
C Charles Johnson R 175 .259 18 75 0
SS Alex Gonzalez R 234 .251 9 48 2


OF Eric Owens R 262 .252 5 28 8
C Mike Redmond R 322 .312 4 14 0
OF Tim Raines*[1] S-R 369 .303 1 9 1


RH Ryan Dempster 42 15 12 6.2 1.56 4.94
RH Brad Penny 40 10 10 6.6 1.16 3.69
RH A.J. Burnett 60 11 12 6.4 1.32 4.05
RH Josh Beckett (R) 63 2 2 6.0 1.04 1.50
RH Matt Clement 150 9 10 5.5 1.52 5.05


RH Antonio Alfonseca 44 4 4 28 1.35 3.06
RH Braden Looper 128 3 3 3 1.31 3.55
LH Vic Darensbourg 244 1 2 1 1.27 4.25

[1]New acquisition (R) Rookie B-T: Bats-throws IPS: Innings
pitched per start

WHIP: Walks plus hits per inning pitched PVR: Player
Value Ranking (explanation on page 154)

*Combined AL and NL stats

Jeff Torborg
first season with Florida

2001 record
fourth in NL East

with defensive ratings

Golden Glover


Good Leather


Iron Hands