No easy fixes for the Marlins in 2012


Recently the Marlins’ brass met in New York during the four-game series against the New York Mets and discussed various aspects of the 2012 season. The meeting was part of a planning effort for 2012, the first season in the new stadium and a season on which the Marlins are banking much of their credibility. Many decisions are up for grabs, including the futures of the team’s starting rotation, star shortstop, and managerial staff.

Before and since the meeting, various different parties have an idea about what the plan is to improve the team this offseason. Two examples can be seen here and here. I’ll let you in on the secret on how the Marlins will fix the 2011 team and get back to competition in 2012.

(Drum roll)

With difficulty.

The truth is there is not an easy fix to make the Marlins competitors in 2012. Adding one or two free agent pickups will not necessarily guarantee competition. Getting healthy and effective performances from Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson would certainly help, but those occurrences are no guarantees and even they might not bring the team entirely back to contention. The simple fact of the matter is that the team has a few holes that will not be easily filled without large additions. The Marlins could pick up two to three wins by replacing their current center fielders and third basemen, but the team will likely only add one free agent with a decent-sized contract. The Marlins also have concerns in the rotation, particularly in terms of a fourth starter in case Javier Vazquez does indeed retire. The team has no minor leaguers ready to contribute in 2012.

Unless the team spends freely and ups payroll by about $25 million (not counting arbitration and contractual raises), the team will be around .500 again. If you are happy with that, then this is perfectly acceptable. But to rattle off a list of names on the free agent market, figuring that “if the team can just pick up Player X and Y, they will contend” is not within reason. The Marlins have yet to establish that they are all that close to contention to start with, and one or two additions may not be enough without significant regression or improvement by certain players.