Buster Olney, a regular analyst for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and well respected baseball figure has had a lot to say about the Miami Marlins this off-season. While many of his comments have been positive toward the organization, his latest might have been the most powerful yet. In response to a fan’s tweet about the Reality Show “The Franchise” coming to Miami, Olney made this statement: “The Marlins are either going to be a brilliant, visionary success, or a near-total disaster. Like going all-in on a poker hand.” This statement clearly speaks for itself, and while I want to disagree with him, I agree. Actually, I think Olney hit the nail on the head perfect. The Marlins have most likely ended their most active off-season yet acquiring all-star shortstop Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell, and of course the unpredictable Carlos Zambrano. Anytime an abundant amount of talent agrees to play for your team you should celebrate. Am I right or wrong? Only if the talent meshes with your teams chemistry, game-plan, and way of doing business. Lets break down this comment by the pros and cons:
In A Perfect World
In a perfect world for all Miami Marlins, this year will be a huge leap into the right direction. New manager Ozzie Guillen will assemble 25 players that give us the best shot at winning, and work his magic. Josh Johnson would not only come back completely healthy, but refreshed and ready to continue his dominant presence on the mound. JJ would grasp the role as the teams “ace” and run home with it. Sporting his always low ERA, Johnson will make his 3rd All-Star game appearance and lead the Marlins in most all pitching stats. Taking on the role as a team leader, he will pave the way for the rest of the pitching staff to follow. Newcomer Mark Buehrle will continue his run of 200+ innings while dawning another respectable ERA. Buehrle, already familiar with Ozzie Guillen, will settle in nicely with Miami and prove his off-season signing was no mistake. Anibal Sanchez will continue to improve and show the organization that he really does deserve a long-term extension. Heck, in a perfect world he will toss his 2nd no-hitter. He has been close several times in the past. Ricky Nolasco, coming off an off-season where he slipped in the rotation, will bounce back and become the Ricky Nolasco we all know and love. “Inconsistent Ricky” will drop his nickname and go back to the player who we could once rely on to take the mound and out-duel any opponent we face. Last but not least, Carlos Zambrano. Another new addition to the rotation, Big Z has once again said that God has made him a better person, which will translate on the mound. In a perfect world, this time he means it. Zambrano will return to the form that made him such a fierce competitor on the mound in Chicago and actually be considered our 3rd best option when it is all said and done. Zambrano, who has not had a losing season in 9 years, will show maturity and patience on the field which will lead him to becoming a better player. While an ejection is still possible in this “perfect world” for Big Z, the team will rally around the big guy and show him that he can relax and do what he does best.
In a perfect world, our batting order will be one of the most feared line-ups in all of baseball. Hanley Ramirez will accept his move to third base without much controversy, and this will make him a better player. Returning to his 09 form where he hit .342, Ramirez will once again be considered as the best hitter in the NL East. Hanley has worked really hard this off-season in the weight room and this will also pay off on his home run numbers. When at his best, Ramirez is capable of 30+ home runs. This is a perfect world, with a high average and healthy amount of home-runs, Ramirez will once again be in the MVP talks late season. Newcomer Jose Reyes, coming off a career best season, will pick up right where he left off last year. Adjusting well to his new team, Reyes will again be a force at the plate and a solid defender at short. With these 2 performing at such a high rate, Omar Infante, Gaby Sanchez, and John Buck will feed off their effort. Infante, capable of hitting at a high average when he’s at his best, will show flashes on why he was a 2010 All-Star with the Braves. Gaby Sanchez will show no remembrance at all of the Albert Pujols drama and give the Marlin fan-base a reason to believe HE is out future there. Buck, an All-Star in 2010 as well, will improve dramatically behind the plate and give the Marlins more of an offensive weapon than he did last year.
I can’t even comprehend what Mike Stanton would do in a perfect world so I will leave that to your imagination. My guess would be near the top 3 in home runs and his first All-Star appearance. Logan Morrision will mature not only on the field, but off the field as well and become a top “young star” that he is capable of being. When on his A-Game, Morrison can hit for extra-basehits consistently while flashing above-average power. Emilio Bonifacio will continue to improve and show that he can actually be a valuable option for this team. With blazing speed and more weapons in the line-up, expect Bonifacio to be in the Top 5 range in stolen bases this coming year. WOW, what a season this would be if we were living in a perfect world. While this was meant to bring some humor, the crazy thing is that this is actually possible. Of course not all of these scenarios will happen, but to think that we have a line-up that actually has the potential to be GREAT is something to cherish.
In a Disaster
What would occur if Olney’s theory of a disaster season took place? Well for starters, we all know Ozzie Guillen does not hesitate in sharing his opinions. We also know the Marlins front office does not play games with head coaches. Put the combo together and……not a good mix. In a disaster season, not only will the coaching fail but the team will fall apart as well. I would call it a “shocker” if Josh Johnson could actually finish one single season healthy. Expect an injury to the shoulder or arm that puts JJ on the IR by mid-season. Mark Buehrle has pitched “decent” the last few years, but nothing to write home about. Yes he eats up a lot of innings, but he gives up his fair share of runs as well. Many look at Buehrle as a pitcher with declining movement and velocity that will soon hit a wall. In a disaster season, expect Buehrle to finally be exposed as the over-hyped free agent that we screwed up on. Anibal Sanchez has the potential to grow, but at the same time has the ability to crash. Playing with the insecurity of a one year deal, Sanchez has a lot riding on this year for his future in the game. Pressure’s on you Anibal! Ricky Nolasco will again stay as “Inconsistent Ricky” and literally pitch how we expect him too. He will look like a Cy Young winner one game, and like a washed up over-hyped athlete the next. If this continues, Ricky could find himself being replaced by Wade Leblanc very soon. Imagine Big Z in a disaster season. That thought literally makes me laugh. A number of ejections, thrown water coolers, and maybe a few premature retirements lure in the shadows of Miami.
While our line-up as the potential to be very good, it at times can be very bad. Remember the point in time last year where it was considered a “great outing” if we scored 2 runs in a single game? Besides the addition of Reyes, it’s the same ball players out there that gave us that putrid streak of runless ballgames. Who’s to say this will not happen again? We all know that Hanley, Stanton, Morrison, and Reyes can hit. They have proven their worth and deserve the status as “above average” ball players. But geez, when they are off, THEY ARE OFF. In a bad game for Stanton, he will swing at a ball in the dugout and can easily post a hat-trick on any given night. Hanley has terrible plate discipline and unless he works on that a lot this spring training, I see no reason why this will drastically change. Morrison and Gaby go through crazy hot and cold streaks, so inconsistancy is always a factor. Bascially what Im trying to say is: Yes, we have a good team. Yes, we have great potential. But yes, we still have flaws that can be easily exposed and have the potential to easily be a losing team.
Screw Buster Olney, Lets Just Play Ball!
You can make a case for either scenario. We have the tools to be a really good baseball team and I believe we will be. If we act like professional’s and show that we know how to handle a little pressure, there is no doubt in my mind we can be in the post-season. I understand emotion and change play a role in a teams performance, but I also understand that respected professionals “get it done” when it matters. It is our time to step up and show the baseball world that we are a new and up and coming golden franchise. Lets Do It Miami!