The Miami Marlins and New York Yankees completed their 2-game exhibition series on Monday evening. The Yankees won the game by a final score of 5-2 and swept the two games. This was the Marlins final tune up before the season begins tomorrow, against the St. Louis Cardinals. We will have a preview for that game up tomorrow.
First, I want to recap the exhibition game that took place last night and give some thoughts about this team.
I know this game did not count, and the Marlins lost, but watching this game just felt so good. I have missed baseball season, quite a bit.
Marlins Park is quite beautiful. I have not been able to attend a game, yet. I hope to get down to Miami at some point this summer and catch a few games. All I have seen so far is the stadium, but man is it gorgeous. The fish tanks, the Clevelander, and the overall design look amazing.
Anyways, back to the game. There is something special about this Marlins team. Unlike past seasons, the team seems to be close and more communicative. I guess this could be something attributed to Ozzie Guillen. I liked the little huddle the team did before running to take their places on the field, right before the game started. It is a little corny, but in the past, the team has had some issues with each other, mainly Hanley Ramirez. If the team has gotten over this, and there is no fighting like little school girls, that is one less distraction for this team to deal with.
Now we will take a look at some aspects of the Marlins game that I noticed.
In the first inning, Jose Reyes hit a ball down the line and used his speed to leg out a double. Bonifacio then set Hanley Ramirez up by pulling the ball, and advancing Reyes to third. Ramirez drove in Reyes to tie the game at 1.
Later in the game, after Reyes took a walk, Bonifacio once again pulled the ball, this time to the hole on the right side that was opened up due to the threat of Reyes stealing a base. On the single, Reyes took third, and that set the Marlins up nicely with runners on first and third, one out. The Marlins failed to produce a run, as Ramirez struck out and Giancarlo Stanton flew out, but the top of the order sure did asset themselves.
The Marlins were able to string together 10 hits, although only two extra base hits. More impressive were the at-bats they were having and how they were hitting the ball. Marlins players got some good swings, unfortunately, a few times those were hit right at fielders. Still a good sign for the Fish going forward.
The Marlins, though will need to improve on some of the opportunities they had. You have to score runs when you have a runner on third with less then two outs. This should improve as the season goes on.
I am extremely excited to see the Miami Marlins infield defense and how it will hold up during the season. Gaby Sanchez and Omar Infante were gold glove finalists last season, and have a chance to improve on their defense in 2012. If both of them can reach that same level in 2012, the Marlins infield should be in really good shape.
The Marlins two other infielders are also interesting. Reyes has a reputation as a good defensive short stop around the league. Although he has been below average the past two seasons, there is no reason to believe that he cannot play an adequate short stop. Even if he plays slightly below average defense out there, that is an improvement over what the Marlins have had with Hanley at short.
Over at third, the Marlins have former short stop Hanley Ramirez. He will not provide gold glove defense and there is still a learning curve for him at the position, but he should be an automatic improvement over Greg Dobbs and Emilio Bonifacio’s defense over there.
I do not think that most of the defensive metrics are in agreement with this, but I believe infield defense should be one of the Marlins strengths in 2012.
The outfield is another story, though. The only sure defense the Marlins should get is in right field, with Giancarlo Stanton. Depending on which defensive metric you trust, Stanton was anywhere from good to an elite defender in right field. He should provide more of that in 2012, provided he can stay healthy.
Stanton did show some glimpses of that Monday night. He nearly fired a bullet to throw out a runner at home and made a terrific diving catch later.
In center, we still have no idea what we should expect from Bonifacio on defense in center for a full season. His backup, Chris Coghlan, does not provide any upgrade with his defense out there either. This should be a position for the Marlins to monitor. Good news for the Marlins is that Bonifacio sure does have the speed to cover center well.
In left field, the Marlins have converted first baseman Logan Morrison. Morrison is an all-out player and has been dealing with knee issues this spring. Add on that he was never a true left fielder, you have a recipe for disaster out in left field with Morrison on defense. He cost the Marlins almost a full win with his defense out there.
Although Morrison’s defense out in left is still a major question mark, Morrison does provide a once in a while web gem. Kind of like this running catch he made last night.
One of the more underrated things about this Marlins team is the versatility they have. The Marlins have multiple players that can play several positions. Now it is not as good as the Tampa Bay Rays, who seem to be able to put a gold glove caliber player at every position, every night, but it is still a good thing.
In the Marlins starting lineup, they have two first baseman, three short stops, and two guys that can play all over the field. On their bench, the Marlins Greg Dobbs, who can play both corner outfield spots as well as both corner infield positions. Austin Kearns can play both corner outfield spots and first base and Donnie Murphy can play all over the infield. Chris Coghlan has experience at second, third, and left field in his pro career. Coghlan has played one game in right field as well, earlier this spring. All four also provide a decent bat off of the bench as pinch hitters.
When asked about Carlos Zambrano’s start, Ozzie Guillen rolled his eyes and replied, “Not too good.” That is an understatement.
Zambrano went just 4+ innings and looked pretty horrible. Zambrano walked 7 batter in those 4+ innings, allowed 4 hits and 5 runs. He did record 3 strikeouts, but Big Z’s control was a major issue, as it has been this entire spring. Zambrano has walked 17 hitters in 21 and 1/3 innings this spring.
If he cannot improve on that, 2012 will be a very long season for Big Z and the Marlins.
Maybe it is his delivery, but Steve Cishek is quickly becoming my favorite Marlins pitcher to watch. He won me over last season when he came out of nowhere and quickly became the Marlins best reliever.
I still believe that the Marlins should have stuck him in the closers role and allocated the Heath Bell money elsewhere, but the Bell signing still did improve an already impressive bullpen in 2011. The Marlins bullpen should be in great shape in 2012 as well. Steve Cishek will play a major role in that as well.
That is all for now folks, be sure to check back later today to see projections on the Miami Marlins from the Marlin Maniac staff, as well as some other interesting projections from around the league.
Baseball season is only 1 day away! I know I am super excited.