Posts Tagged ‘Dan Uggla’

Starting Nine: National League East

January 14, 2010

Isn’t it funny how a couple of minutes could change an entire post? As I started writing this post last night, I found out the news that New York Mets’ center fielder, Carlos Beltran will be out of commission for three to four months.

Within five minutes, the Mets went from having a very good lineup to a lineup with a lot of holes in it. So now that Beltran is out for a couple of months, where does the Mets’ lineup stack-up against the rest of the National League East?

Let’s take a look at each lineup in the National League East as presently constructed today. Since the pitcher will hit ninth, I just inserted the team’s top pitcher in the nine-hole.

Philadelphia Phillies

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

2. Placido Polanco, 3B

3. Chase Utley, 2B

4. Ryan Howard, 1B

5. Jayson Werth, RF

6. Raul Ibanez, LF

7. Shane Victorino, CF

8. Carlos Ruiz, C

9. Roy Halladay, P

Quick Take – One through eight, this is the best lineup in the National League. This lineup has speed and power throughout. This lineup will be hard to shutdown in 2010.

Atlanta Braves

1. Nate McLouth, CF

2. Martin Prado, 2B

3. Chipper Jones, 3B

4. Brian McCann, C

5. Troy Glaus, 1B

6. Yunel Escobar, SS

7. Matt Diaz, RF

8. Melky Cabrera, LF

9. Derek Lowe, P

Quick Take – This lineup will only go as far as Glaus takes them. If he can come back healthy, then the Braves will have a very good lineup in 2010. It could be made even better when super stud prospect Jason Heyward makes his debut.

New York Mets

1. Jose Reyes, SS

2. Luis Castillo, 2B

3. David Wright, 3B

4. Jason Bay, LF

5. Jeff Francouer, RF

6. Daniel Murphy, 1B

7. Omir Santos, C

8. Angel Pagan, CF

9. Johan Santana, P

Quick Take – Not having Beltran will kill this lineup. The Mets could make up for the loss of Beltran by signing Bengie Molina and/or Carlos Delgado. The Mets have been rumored to be interested in both.

Florida Marlins

1. Cameron Maybin, CF

2. Chris Coghlan, LF

3. Hanley Ramirez, SS

4. Jorge Cantu, 3B

5. Dan Uggla, 2B

6. Cody Ross, RF

7. Gabby Sanchez, 1B

8. John Baker, C

9. Josh Johnson, P

Quick Take – If Uggla and Cantu stay, then this lineup becomes a lot better than most people think. This is a big year for Maybin. I think he really needs to show something this year.

Washington Nationals

1. Nyjer Morgan, CF

2. Christian Guzman, 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

4. Adam Dunn, 1B

5. Josh Willingham, LF

6. Elijah Dukes, RF

7. Ivan Rodriguez, C

8. Ian Desmond, SS

9. Jason Marquis, P

Quick Take – This lineup is certainly getting better. I like the one through five, especially Zimmerman. The Nationals are talking to Orlando Hudson, but if he doesn’t sign with them, I don’t mind Desmond as their Opening Day shortstop. I think he can be good.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the National League Central.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Recapping The Rule 5 Draft

December 11, 2009

Today, Major League Baseball held its annual Rule 5 Draft. The Rule 5 Draft takes place around this time every year at the Baseball Winter Meetings.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Rule 5 Draft, here is a great overview courtesy of Baseball America’s Alan Schwarz:

“Major league teams must protect players on their 40-man rosters within three or four years of their original signing. Those left unprotected are available to other teams as Rule 5 picks.

“Players who were 18 or younger on June 5 preceding the signing of their first contract must be protected after four minor league seasons. Players 19 and older must be protected after three seasons.

“But here’s the kicker: To prevent teams from drafting players willy-nilly, each Rule 5 pick must be kept in the major leagues the entire following season or be offered back to his former team for half of the $50,000 selection price. Few players are ready for such a jump, so only about 10-15 get picked each year. Fewer still last the whole season in the big leagues.

Now you might be thinking why would I care about a draft were the players aren’t good enough to make a team’s 40-man roster? Well, you should care because some of the best players in the game today were taken in the Rule 5 Draft.

Santana was a Rule 5 Draft pick

Johan Santana, Joakim Soria, Shane Victorino, Josh Hamilton, and Dan Uggla are all current players who were taken in the Rule 5 Draft. Past players who were taken include All Stars George Bell, Kelly Gruber, Bobby Bonilla, and Roberto Clemente.

So as you can see, a team can definitely find a diamond in the rough in this draft.

Here is a recap of the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft:

1. Washington Nationals: Jamie Hoffmann, OF. Drafted from Los Angeles Dodgers

2. Pittsburgh Pirates: John Raynor, OF. Drafted from Florida Marlins

3. Baltimore Orioles: Benjamin Snyder, LHP. Drafted from San Francisco Giants

4. Kansas City Royals: Edgar Osuna, LHP. Drafted from Atlanta Braves

5. Cleveland Indians: Hector Ambriz, RHP. Drafted from Arizona Diamondbacks

6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Zachery Kroenke, LHP. Drafted from New York Yankees

7. New York Mets: Carlos Monasterios, RHP. Drafted from Philadelphia Phillies

8. Houston Astros: Jorge Jimenez, 3B. Drafted from Boston Red Sox

9. Oakland A’s: Robert Cassevah, RHP. Drafted from Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

10. Toronto Blue Jays: Zechry Zinicola, RHP. Drafted from Washington Nationals

11. Milwaukee Brewers: Chuck Lofgren, LHP. Drafted from Cleveland Indians

12. Chicago Cubs: Michael Parisi, RHP. Drafted from St. Louis Cardinals

13. Tampa Bay Rays: Armando Zerpa, LHP. Drafted from Boston Red Sox

14. Seattle Mariners: Kenekoa Texeira, RHP. Drafted from New York Yankees

15. San Francisco Giants: Steven Johnson, RHP. Drafted from Baltimore Orioles

16. St. Louis Cardinals: Ben Jukich, LHP. Drafted from Cincinnati Reds

17. Philadelphia Phillies: David Herndon, RHP. Drafted from Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

A couple of notes about this draft:

– Not every team had a pick because not every team had an open spot on the 40-man roster.

– The Red Sox, Yankees, and Angels had the most players taken with two each.

– The Rule 5 Draft is usually pitching centric and this year was no different. Out of the 17 picks, 14 were pitchers.

– Jamie Hoffmann was traded by the Nationals to the Yankees to complete the Brian Bruney trade.

– Benjamin Snyder was traded by the Orioles to the Rangers to complete the Kevin Millwood trade.

– Jorge Jimenez was traded by the Astros to the Marlins to complete the Matt Lindstrom trade.

– You can find the Triple-A and Double-A phase of the draft here.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Dustin Pedroia Moving To Shortstop?

December 1, 2009

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

According to ESPN’s Peter Gammons, the Boston Red Sox have asked 2B Dustin Pedroia if he would be willing to move over to shortstop.

They’ve asked me if I think I could play shortstop,” says Pedroia. “They’ve put it out there and I’ve told them I’m all for it. I can do it. I can’t wait for Tito [Terry Francona] to call me and ask, ‘Can you do it?’ I can do it. I really want to do it.”

Why don’t the Red Sox just hold open tryouts for shortstops at this point?

You know how Texas A&M has the tradition of the “12th Man Kickoff Team” where members of the student body get to try out for the football team? The Red Sox should do that to fill their shortstop need in 2010.

Pedroia could be fielding balls at short in 2010

The Red Sox should just go to Boston College, Harvard, Providence, and UMass to find a shortstop in 2010.

Now if anyone can make the transition from second to short it could be Pedroia. After all, he was an All American shortstop at Arizona State University.

And like Gammons said, moving Pedroia to short would allow the Red Sox to pursue one of the top-tier second baseman on the market this winter. There are better options at second base via trade or free agency, than there are shortstops.

Orlando Hudson, Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips, and even Mark DeRosa are all second baseman, who can be had this winter. If Pedroia does move to second, out of the group above, Brandon Phillips might make the most sense.

Uggla can’t play defense, DeRosa is more of a third baseman at this point in his career, and Hudson seemingly gets hurt every year. Phillips is a great defense player and is a player that could thrive in the deep Red Sox lineup.

I wrote about the pros and cons of trading for Phillips last month.

The more I think about, the more I think this has a very good chance of happening. Pedroia is the ultimate team player and will do what ever it takes to win. If that means moving to second, then so be it.

“When the idea of moving back to shortstop was floated to me, I welcomed it,” says Pedroia. “I’m excited. Tell Derek (Jeter) to enjoy the gold glove and silver slugger awards while he can. Obviously, I’m not serious about the fun I have with Derek, but I’m never stopping believing in the goal. I believe I can play shortstop and help get the Red Sox back where they belong.”

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Dan Uggla: What’s His Trade Market?

November 16, 2009

Outside of Roy Halladay, the player we are most likely to hear involved in trade rumors is Florida Marlins 2B Dan Uggla. This really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone as any player on the Marlins making more than $1 million is a trade candidate.

Dan Uggla

Uggla is most likely to get traded this offseason

So if the Marlins are to trade Uggla, what type of player are they trading and what type of return should they expect? As always, here are the pros, the cons, and the potential suitors for Uggla.

Pros

In terms of being an offensive second baseman, Uggla ranks right at the top. In the last three years, Uggla leads all major league second baseman in home runs with 94 and ranks fourth in OPS with a .829 mark.

Uggla also knows how to work the count, which is ever so important in today’s game. Over the last three years, Uggla ranks second amongst all second baseman in walks with 235.

Last year, Uggla set a career high in walks with 92.

Cons

Poor Danny Uggs. Uggla was rolling in 2008 to the tune of a first half line of .286/.374/.605 with 23 home runs. Then the night of July 15th happened.

That night was the All Star Game at Yankee Stadium.

Uggla had perhaps the worst All Star Game for a position player in the history of the game. Uggla struck out three times and committed three errors in the 4-3 National League loss.

Uggla hasn’t been the same since that night.

Since that night, Uggla has hit only .235 with a .774 OPS. I don’t think we can attribute all of Uggla’s struggles to that faithful night in the Bronx, but I don’t think it is just a coincidence either.

Uggla was embarrassed on a national stage and you never know how that will affect someone in the long-term.

Not only has Uggla dipped offensively since that night, but Uggla is a terrible defensive second baseman. Uggla consistently ranks towards the bottom amongst all second baseman in fielding.

2009 was no exception.

In 2009, Uggla made 16 errors which was the second most by second baseman and had a -10.1 UZR. His -10.1 UZR ranked him second to last amongst second baseman, only ahead of Luis Castillo.

Uggla will probably have to move to third base, first base, or even DH. However, Uggla and his agent don’t see it that way. Here is what Uggla’s agent told Yahoo! Sports.

“Danny Uggla’s been a full-time second baseman for the last four years,” agent Jeff Borris said. “He’s performed exceptionally well at that position. Although he has the athleticism to play other positions, he’s performed remarkably over these four years at second base and there should be no reason to consider a position change at this time.”

Uggla’s resistance to changing positions could be a hinderance for the Marlins in trading Uggla.

The last con with Uggla, is perhaps his contract. Uggla made $5.3 million in 2009 and has two more arbitration eligible years ahead of him.

Are teams going to pay $9 million-$10 million in arbitration to a defensively challenged second baseman?

Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of Uggla, let’s look at what teams might be interested in the former University of Memphis Tiger.

Atlanta Braves: Normally teams don’t trade within the division, but I don’t think that matters to the Marlins. The Braves need a right-handed bat and if the Adam LaRoche doesn’t re-sign with the Braves to first base, Uggla could be an option.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Orlando Hudson and Ronnie Belliard are free agents for the Dodgers, so therefore they have a need at second base.

Though, if they are going to go the Uggla route, they should just re-sign Hudson. Uggla and Hudson were of equal value in 2009 according to Fangraphs and Hudson wouldn’t cost the Dodgers any players.

San Francisco Giants: The Giants just re-signed Freddie Sanchez to play second base, but the Giants could look at Uggla as a first baseman.

Oakland A’s. Though GM Billy Beane has tried to build a more athletic A’s team recently, Uggla is a classic “Moneyball” type player–low average, high OBP, can’t play defense.

Uggla would be a nice DH option for the A’s.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners need a third baseman and a DH. If Uggla is willing to shift over to third, Uggla could be a good fit in Seattle.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers are a little bit of a stretch, but Uggla could serve as the Rangers’ DH and insurance at second when Ian Kinsler makes his annual trip to the DL in 2010.

I am going to say there is a 95% chance Uggla gets traded this offseason. When the Marlins want to move someone, their history suggests they do.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

2009, The Year Of The Second Basemen…

May 14, 2009

Normally, when I am drafting my fantasy team I like to take a top 2nd baseman early because there are so few good ones out there. That strategy has been blown out of the water this year because it is looking like 2009 will be the year of the 2nd baseman. Has anyone else noticed the depth of the 2nd base position this year? There are 15 to 16 2nd baseman right now who are having legit fantasy seasons and that doesn’t even include 4 other 2nd baseman who have the potential to be in the top 10 at the position.

Look at these fantasy numbers put up by 2nd baseman so far in 2009….

Aaron Hill – .357/9/30

Orlando Hudson – .343/3/20/.424 and 4 sb’s

Felipe Lopez – .328/4/9/.390 and 4 sb’s

Alberto Callaspo – .327/2/12

Ian Kinsler – .326/9/28 with 8 sb’s

Dustin Pedroia – .320/1/12 with 4 sb’s

Luis Castillo – .318/0/11/.392

Asdrubal Cabrera – .318/1/17 with 6 sb’s

Freddy Sanchez – .317/3/11

Robinson Cano – .313/6/18

Chase Utley – .294/10/23/.419

Brian Roberts – .281/4/13 with 4 sb’s

Akinori Iwamura – .277/0/12 with 7 sb’s

Rickie Weeks – .274/8/22

Brandon Phillips – .265/6/22 with 4 sb’s

Those are some pretty impressive stats through the 1st month and a half of the season. How about the performance of Aaron Hill so far? He has carried the Blue Jays and it looks like the side effects of the concussion he suffered last year have seized. Do I think he can keep up this pace? Probably not. I mean, he is on pace for Ruthian 50 Hr’s and about 163 RBI. I can see the average being there at the end but, it’s more likely Hill will end up with 25 HR’s and 80-85 RBI.

That list doesn’t even include 4 guys who are off to slow starts and have the ability to be a top 2nd baseman…

Howie Kendrick – .241/4/19

Kelly Johnson – .235/3/11

Dan Uggla – .193/4/20/.310

Jose Lopez – .248/3/19

Poor Dan Uggla, he really hasn’t been the same since that disastrous All-Star Game performance last year at Yankee Stadium. He hit .226 in the 2nd half last year and is off to a .193 start this year. I wonder if that game did permanent damage to Uggla mentally? It would be a shame if it did.

As you can see, you should have no excuse finding a quality 2nd baseman this year for your fantasy team.

Also, you may have have noticed a new Link Category to the right called MLB Memorabilia. The folks over at Bigflysports.com, who are fans of The Ghost of Moonlight Graham are happy to offer a 10% discount to all my readers.

Simply click on the link to Big Fly Sports and enter the Promo Code:  ICGHOSTS

Looking At Fantasy 2nd Basemen In 2009…

February 23, 2009

It’s time to look at who are the best fantasy 2nd basemen headed into 2009. I always like to take the top 2B or SS early because finding a top hitting middle infielder is a hard to come by. They are few and far between.

In honor of latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, I have broken down this years 2B class by swimsuit model. Enjoy

Like this year's cover girl, Bar Refaeli these are the best of the best

Like this year's cover girl, Bar Refaeli these are the best of the best

1. Ian Kinsler, Rangers –Kinsler was tearing up major league pitching last year until a sports hernia injury ended his season in August. I like Kinsler a lot this year. He is the most complete 2B headed into 2009. He will give you hr, rbi, avg, obp and sb’s. If he can stay healthy for the whole season than a 25 hr/25 sb/90 rbi season is not out of the question.

2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox –The reigning AL MVP heads into 2009 as the 2nd best 2B on the board. The reason I have Pedroia 2nd is because I expect a little dip in his power numbers numbers (hr & rbi) from last year. Look for the heart and soul of the Red Sox to have a .320/14/75/.380 type season.

3. Chase Utley, Phillies –Any other year Utley is by far the #1 2B on the board. But because of offseason hip surgery, Utley’s ranking dips a little. The Phillies are optimistic about Utley being ready for Opening Day but you never know how someone is going to come back from hip surgery. April is key for Utley. If he looks healthy in April, then a typical Utley year of .295/28/95 is in order.

4. Brandon Phillips, Reds

not the cover girl, but like Brooklyn Decker these are the next best thing and nobody is complaining

not the cover girl, but like Brooklyn Decker these are the next best thing and nobody is complaining

 5. Brian Roberts, Orioles

6. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox – Alfonso Soriano part 2. A tall, lanky 2B who has all the potential in the world? Sounds like Alfonso Soriano part 2 to me. Ramirez had a solid rookie year putting up a .290/21/77 in just 480 ab’s. Now moving over to SS, Ramirez still will qualify at 2B for fantasy purposes which raises his stock even more. The only stat Ramirez hurts you in is obp (.317 last season) but a .300/25/90 with 10+ sb’s is not out of the question for Ramirez

7. Dan Uggla, Marlins – Most fans remember Uggla for his horrific performance in last years All-Star game which is unfortunate. Uggla is a terrific player and one of the most consistent producing 2B in the game. 3 straight years of 25+ hr’s and 85+ rbi proves that. Uggla had career highs in hr (32), rbi (92) and obp (.360) last year so similar numbers should be expected again in 2009.

8. Robinson Cano, Yankees –I don’t think Cano will ever again hit .342 like he did in 2006 but his power numbers and rbi totals should keep Cano a top 10 2B for years to come. 15+ hr’s and 80 rbi is realistic for Cano this year

9. Jose Lopez, Mariners

I would never kick Jessica Hart out of bed and you shouldn't kick these 4 guys out of your fantasy drafts

I would never kick Jessica Hart out of bed and you shouldn't kick these 4 guys out of your fantasy drafts

10. Mark DeRosa, Indians –DeRosa will qualify at 2B, 3B and OF but has the most value at 2B. DeRosa had a career year last year hitting .285 with 21 hr and 87 rbi for the Cubs. Leaving Wrigley will hurt DeRosa’s numbers a bit but 17 hr’s and 75 rbi is realistic for DeRosa in 2009

11. Howie Kendrick, Angels – Can this guy ever stay healthy?? Every year the Angels have depended on him to stay healthy and every year he has let them down. Kendrick has never played in more than 92 games in a season but I think this year Kendrick stays relatively healthy and plays in 130 games. If Kendrick can get to 130 games then .315/10/65 with 15+ steals is doable

11. Kelly Johnson, Braves

 12. Mike Aviles, Royals –Aviles qualifies at SS and at 2B but has more value at the 2B position. The New York native burst on to the scene last year and hit .325 with 10 hr and 51 rbi in just 102 games for the Royals. I like Aviles to hit .300 again but not .325. Look for a .310 avg with 15 hr and 60 rbi from Aviles in 2009

Alison Preston isn't a swimsuit model but she made the issue, these next 4 guys can play on your team too

Alison Preston isn't a swimsuit model but she made the issue, these next 5 guys can play on your team too

13. Rickie Weeks, Brewers –One of these years Weeks is going to break out. He has too much talent to be this mediocre for so long. I think he breaks out this year. By breakout, I mean .260/21/55/.375 with 20+ sb’s. It’s not much but it will do for now

14. Placido Polanco, Tigers

15. Orlando Hudson, Dodgers – You know what you are going to get from Hudson, .285 – .290 with 10 – 13 hr and 55-65 rbi. Going from Chase Field to Dodger Stadium might hurt his power #’s but if the Dodgers re-sign Manny then Hudson will benefit in the runs scored category.

16. Freddy Sanchez, Pirates

17. Mark Ellis, A’s

Shanon Lersch helped round out the Swimsuit Issue and these 4 guys will still help you round out your fantasy team

Shanon Lerschhelped round out the Swimsuit Issue andthese 5 guys will still help you round out your fantasy team

18. Kaz Matsui, Astros –Matsui will give you some value in the sb department but that is about it. He has only played in more than 100 games twice in 5 seasons so don’t count on him too much.

19. Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks –  Want a sleeper for 2009? Take a look at Lopez. He will go into the season as the starting 2B and is playing in a good hitters ballpark. In 2005 he put up a nice .291/23/85 and in 2006 he stole 44 bases while hitting .274. A bounce back season in 2009 might be in order. Keep an eye on Lopez in April, if he gets off to a good start, snag him before someone else does.

20. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays

21. Akinori Iwamura, Rays

22. Clint Barmes, Rockies

Seeing Star Jones in a bathing suit is not pretty and neither is havin these guys on your fantasy team

Seeing Star Jones in a bathing suit is not pretty and neither is having these guys on your fantasy team

23. Mike Fontenot, Cubs –Fontenot will get you avg and obp but that is about it. A good “baseball player” but not a good “fantasy player”

24. Alexi Casilla, Twins

25. Edgar Gonzalez, Padres

26. Luis Castillo, Mets – Castillo enters the 2nd year of a ridiculous 4 year $25MM contract and boy do Mets fans hate this guy. Castillo only played in 87 games last year and hit a measly .245. At this point if Castillo is still the starting 2B by May (big if) then he might have some value in the runs scored category.

27. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

28. Emmanuel Burriss, Giants

29. Edgar Gonzalez, Padres

30. Chris Getz, White Sox – With Alexei Ramirez moving to SS, Getz gets first crack at winning the 2B job

31. Anderson Hernandez, Nationals – Hernandez is officially your worst 2B option headed into 2009. No power, no speed and little potential for scoring runs.

So there you have the 2b rankings headed into 2009. As I mentioned I always like to draft a middle IF early because there are few good ones. Good luck and next up will be fantasy 3B.

Marlins Looking For Another Playoff Run….

January 26, 2009

There are a lot of things you can buy for $32MM. You can buy this Miami Penthouse for $22MM and have $10MM left over for furniture, you can buy Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Marmol for 1 year or if you are a really big racing fan you can buy Jeff Gordon.  But for the Florida Marlins $32MM might buy them a division title in 2009.

$32MM is the projected 2009 payroll for the Marlins in 2009, by far the lowest in baseball. However, despite the lack of payroll the Marlins may be competing for the NL East division title with the Mets, Phillies and Braves. The Marlins are looking to build off of their solid 84-77 record in 2008 but like every team in baseball, the Marlins have their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s look at the 2009 Marlins

Strengths

Power – In 2008 the Marlins ranked 2nd in the NL in hr’s (208), tied for 3rd in slugging % (.433) and 5th in runs (770). Despite the loss of Mike Jacobs and his 32 hr, the Marlins should have no problem hitting the long ball in 2009. The 2009 version of the Marlins lineup could feature 6 guys who could hit 20+ hr’s. Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Cody Ross, Jorge Cantu, Jeremy Hermida and Dallas McPherson all could pop 20+ hr’s this year

Starting Pitching – The next wave of young flame throwers developed by the Marlins is upon us.  Led by Ricky Nolasco the Marlins rotation this year goes 5 deep and all their pitchers have tremendous potential.

Ricky Nolasco – The staff ace, Nolasco enjoyed a breakout year last year going 15-8 with a 3.52 era in 212.1 innings

Josh Johnson – Power throwing righty returned from injuries in 2008 and went 7-1 with a 3.61 era

Chris Volstad – The 16th pick of the 2005 draft, Volstadwent 6-4 in his rookie year in 2008 with a 2.88 era in 14 starts for the Marlins

Anibal Sanchez – Career 14-9 record with a 3.86 era. Threw a no-hitter against the Diamondbacks in 2006

Andrew Miller – The key pitcher in the Miguel Cabrera trade, the former 1st round pick may have more potential than anyone on the staff

Weaknesses

Defense – To say the Marlins are bad defensively would be an understatement. They ranked 2nd in the NL in errors with 117 andfinished tied for last in fielding % with a .980 mark. Things don’t expect to get better in 2009 with an infield of Cantu, Uggla, Ramirez and McPherson all below average defenders.

Contact – No team in the NL struck out more than the Marlins did in 2008. The Marlins failed to make contact with 2 strikes, 1,370 times. By far and away the most in the NL. Teams that have trouble advancing runners, working pitchers and getting runners home from 3rd with less than 2 outs because of strike outs, usually have a tough time winning baseball games

X-Factors 

Cameron Maybin – If Andrew Miller was the key pitcher in the Miguel Cabrera trade, then Cameron Maybin WAS the key. The 21 year old former Futures Game Selection will be given every chance to be the Marlins starting CF in 2009. In a brief cup-of-coffee with the Marlins in 2008, Maybin hit .500 in 32  along with 4 stolen bases. Bill James projects Maybin a .276/16/58 hitter with 32 stolen bases and 86 runs scored. If the Marlins get this from Maybin in 2009, watch out

Matt Lindstrom – Lindstrom takes over the Marlins closing role after last year’s closer, Kevin Gregg was shipped to the Cubs. After Gregg melted down in August (0-4, 10.13 era), Lindstrom was made the closer in September and responded. Lindstrom in a small sample size in September went 5-5 in save opportunities with a 1.74 era. If Lindstrom can have continued success in the closers role, it will stabilize the rest of the pen

Outlook

The Marlins are built more like a beer league softball team with bombers and poor defense rather than a division winner. The difference however is the Marlin’s pitching staff won’t be serving up softballs in 2009. The 2009 Marlins will only go as far as their starting pitching and defense will take them.

Look for the Marlins to battle with the Phillies for the NL East title.

Not bad for $32MM.