What do you get when your team goes hog wild in the free agent market, loses 93 games, and then proceeds to sell off all of those awesome free agents they spent a ton of money on the prior offseason? The 2013 Miami Marlins, of course. It's essentially Giancarlo Stanton and a bunch of others in Miami this season, and everyone is expecting things to be a disaster for the Marlins this year...and quite frankly, the season will probably be a mess.
Marlins on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Hope for the Hopeless
2013 Season Preview
You May Say I’m a Dreamer (11:30 AM)
2013 Burning Question (12:45 PM)
This Is My Nightmare (2:00 PM)
X-Factor (3:15 PM)
Top Ten Prospects (4:30 PM)
Depth Chart (as of 2/18)
C: Rob Brantly/Jeff Mathis
1B: Logan Morrison
2B: Donavan Solano
SS: Adeiny Hechavarria
3B: Placido Polanco
LF: Juan Pierre/Gorkys Hernandez
CF: Justin Ruggiano
RF: Giancarlo Stanton
SP: Ricky Nolasco
SP: Henderson Alvarez
SP: Wade LeBlanc
SP: Nate Eovaldi
SP: Jacob Turner
CL: Steve Cishek
Lots of new faces in Miami...imagine that. Platoon catcher Jeff Mathis was acquired in the megadeal with the Blue Jays, as was starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez and shorstop Adeiny Hechavarria. Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre were both brought in as free agents, as was reliever Jon Rauch. The Marlins also brought in a few "reclamation" projects to try and win jobs, like Casey Kotchman, Austin Kearns (who was a Marlin last year), Chone Figgins, and Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Buehrle, and John Buck were all excised to Canada as part of Jeffrey Loria's "alienate the fanbase" initiative this winter. The team's pair of Carloses, Lee and Zambrano, are both unsigned free agents that the Marlins showed no desire to bring back. Juan Carlos Oviedo (the pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez) signed with the Rays. Chad Gaudin signed with the Giants, and I bet you didn't even know Chad Gaudin was a Marlin last year. The team also dumped Heath Bell off on the Diamondbacks, much to the joy of the rest of the NL West.
Hechavarria will be the starter at short, and the expectations are that he'll provide outstanding defense and no offense to speak of whatsoever. Rob Brantly will get most of the reps behind the plate, and he had a great 2012 debut in Miami. Considering most of his playing time came in September, buyer beware, however. As for other rookies that could make an impact in 2013, keep an eye on third baseman Zack Cox. While Cox hasn't lit up the minors with his bat, he might get some plate appearances in the majors this year if he has a nice start to the season and Polanco inevitably gets hurt.
Everything looks pretty cut and dry right now for the Marlins, but I have to wonder why the team would give Juan Pierre plate appearances over Juan Pierre-lite, Gorkys Hernandez. Chris Coghlan will likely be competing for a bench job with some of the washed up veterans, and if he can't win a job, his fall from grace after winning the 2009 Rookie of the Year award will be compete (as if it hasn't already been complete).
Morrison had knee surgery in September, and is questionable for the start of the season. If he's not ready, I'd expect Kothcman, Greg Dobbs, or former Oriole Joe Mahoney to get playing time at first in the meantime...none is too palatable of an option. There's also issues with Polanco's back that have been ongoing for the last two seasons, but that's nothing new, and you should almost expect him to miss time at this point in his career.
What should you expect from a very young Marlins rotation?
Best case for the Marlins would probably be a .500 season. That might be aiming too high, actually...remember when Joe Girardi managed the Marlins to an 84 loss season, won NL Manager of the Year, and was fired? Something like that might actually be on the table for Mike Redmond this year.
Last year, but cheaper and worse. 100 losses? 105 losses? That could be a good thing with the way the team is rebuilding, allowing them to get a top five pick in the draft after being lined up to pick sixth in 2013...but with how cheap this team tends to be, that might not even be a benefit for the Marlins.
If the Marlins finish anywhere but last in the NL East, I'd be stunned. If they lose less than 90 games, I'd be stunned. This is a young team with some promise, but there are just too many holes for them to be contenders this year.