Welcome to the first piece of the 2011 Marlin Maniac Season Preview! The 2011 season is going to be an exciting one for the Fish because it signals a significant move to an overturned roster that has retained only the pieces that are important. Gone are veteran placeholders like Cody Ross, Jorge Cantu, and even Dan Uggla, and while the team and the fans are more than thankful for their contributions since 2006, most of us realize that they are not significant parts of a consistent future Marlins playoff team in the next five years. Having said that, the team has turned to the young core of led by Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton (remember everyone, call them Patience and Power). The Marlins have only retained the players they have deemed important to the long-term future of the team; Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, and Ricky Nolasco each received multi-year extensions because the Fish felt they would be the backbone of a new core going forward.
Before we get into our projections (trust me, I’ll be looking into those from various different sources), I’d like to introduce our 2011 team to our readers. Yes, I’ve spent a lot of time this offseason talking about each of these players, but let us get to know them via a quick introduction, one-by-one. What follows is an interesting number and a quick discussion for each position player of the team’s likely Opening Day lineup (of whom I know).
1. CF Chris Coghlan
Interesting Number: 15
The number 15 could represent two things:
1) the number of runs Coghlan costs the Marlins over the course of a full season when compared to an average center fielder
2) the number of games Coghlan plays in center field before the Marlins consider him too much of a liability to start at the position.
Sure, his numbers may get better, and he may develop into quite a player at the position over the course of the year. But I’d be more willing to bet that his numbers in left field showed him to be average at best at an easier position, and that his knee and skill level in the outfield would leave the Marlins compromised in center field.
2. 2B Omar Infante
Interesting Number: 6
That is the number worn by the man who Infante is replacing, former All-Star keystoner Uggla. Uggla was a perennial 30-HR hitter, but Infante is a better bet to hit six homers in a full season’s work. At the same time, Infante plays an average defense at second and third base, so we’d expect him to save at least six runs more than the defensively challenged Uggla at the keystone.
3. SS Hanley Ramirez
Interesting Number: .409
Hanley Ramirez‘s wOBA from 2007 to 2009 was .409, which ranked fifth among qualified players (behind Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Matt Holliday, and Chipper Jones. During that time, he totaled 20.1 Wins Above Replacement via FanGraphs (fWAR), which ranked third in that period behind Pujols and Chase Utley. That made last season’s aberrant 4.4 WAR year, complete with a very blase .373 wOBA (.300/.378/.475) very surprising. Even though that sort of production earned Ramirez a third-place ranking among SS in fWAR and a second place mark (by a mile) in terms of Rally’s WAR (rWAR) found on Baseball-Reference, it still is not up to Ramirez’s typical 7+ win style. Can he bounce back? Is his defense as good as it was the last few seasons?
4. RF Mike Stanton
Interesting Number: 30
Stanton is projected by the various systems to hit more than 30 homers this year in a full season’s playing time. He also could strike out more than 30 percent of the time once again, which should combine with some BABIP regression to depress his batting line. Which side is going to win?
5. 1B Gaby Sanchez
Interesting Number: 5
This number represents the number of team-controlled seasons Gaby Sanchez has left for the Marlins or his potential new employers. Most fans believe that Sanchez, the lesser of the two first baseman that the team has, will eventually be dealt to move Morrison back to his native first base. The team needs to watch that interesting number carefully; right now, it is still high enough to get good value back for the team, but as it ticks down, the Marlins will receive less and less for a guy who is right now just around an average first baseman.
6. LF Logan Morrison
Interesting Number: 7
That is the number that represents the position Morrison will play this season, but it could also be the amount of runs he costs the team over a full year defensively, and that’s just based on current defensive metrics. Morrison looks sluggish as a left fielder and really should be a first baseman, but right now the team is looking to maximize its offensive output by using Sanchez and Morrison in the lineup. It could end up hurting the defense pretty badly too.
7. C John Buck
Interesting Number: 6 million
That is how much Buck is getting paid for each year in his three-year deal. I think he can pull off the amount of performance required to match that contract, but the Fish took a relatively hefty risk to depend on him doing it three seasons in a row. We’ll see if it works ut.
8. 3B Matt Dominguez
Interesting Number: 100
That represents Dominguez’s wRC+ (or OPS+ likely) that he has had in each of his past two seasons playing full-time in High-A and Double-A. That represents an average hitting performance at those minor league levels. The team is expecting him to start the season at third base. Good luck?
3B Wes Helms
Interesting Number: 1
Helms ranks first in the team in gritty veteran leadership runs (GVLr), but it doesn’t really add much to the team
IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio
Interesting Number: 0
The number of games Marlins fans would like to see Bonifacio play in 2011.
Interesting Number: 2
Baker’s elbow injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery relegated him to a #2 catcher role. He’ll get his share of starts versus righties however, so it might be a good thing. However, he won’t start the season, so we’ll have to wait to see Bake back on the field.
Interesting Number: 130
The number of starts I’d like to see Cousins make in center field this year. He isn’t worse than Dominguez in total, and with him playing, the Marlins would not have to depend on Chris Coghlan in center field.