Wow, the day is finally here. Starting today, the Miami Marlins are in existence. Marlins Park becomes the new home for the franchise. A new ERA has truly begun in Miami baseball. I have been waiting for this day forever as a Marlins fan!
The buzz around Marlins baseball is the best I have ever heard it being. ESPN, MLB Network, and many other media outlets are high on the Marlins chances. We have spent a long off-season discussing all the Marlins move. We analyzed all spring training about the Marlins chances. Now is our opportunity to see this team in action.
This is a special moment for all Marlins fans. Lets get the 2012 season started with a preview for opening day! I am going to use the same template that Michael Jong had in his time at Marlin Maniac in the past for a series preview. Expect one to be up Thursday morning for the Miami Marlins/Cincinnati Reds series.
NL East Standings
Stadium: Marlins Park
April 2, 2012; Miami FL, USA; A general view of Marlins Park before a spring training game between the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Five-year Run PF*: N/A
Five-year HR PF*: N/A
Left field line—340 ft.
Left-center field—384 ft.
Center field—416 ft.
Right-center field—392 ft.
Right field line—335 ft.
*Five-year regressed park factors provided by Patriot here
Projected Pitching Matchups
March 25, 2012; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Josh Johnson (55) in the dugout after he pitched during their spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
August 17, 2011; Pittsburgh,PA, USA: St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Loshe (26) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE
ZiPS In-Season Projections
|Proj. FIP||Win%||Marlins||Date||Mets||Win%||Proj. FIP|
This season, I plan on doing a Q/A session with a FanSided blogger of the opposing team. The number of questions will range anywhere from 4-to-7. Today I have six questions that Justin McClary from Redbird Rants was gracious enough to answer.
Here are the questions that I had for Justin:
Ehsan: This off-season was a major blow to the St. Louis Cardinals franchise. The team lost legend manager Tony LaRussa and superstar Albert Pujols. What do the Cardinals have to do to replace those two legends?
Justin: Obviously, nothing can be done to outright replace LaRussa and Pujols. We as fans would have to wait a long time to see another combination of legendary talent like those two. However, the Cardinals organization has made the right moves to help move forward into a new era by choosing a young manager with a good mind for the game in Mike Matheny instead of a retread from another organization. They also were smart in attempting to supplement the loss of Albert’s bat by signing Carlos Beltran. With Berkman at first and Beltran in the lineup, the Cardinals look like a solid run-producing unit.
Ehsan: What is going on with Chris Carpenter? When does the team expect him to be back and healthy? Can the team contend without him?
Justin: The most anyone knows right now is that he experienced weakness in his neck, back, and throwing arm. Originally, they thought it was caused by a bulging disk in his neck, but it did not respond to treatment. Right now, he is seeing nerve specialists, but word is there is no nerve damage. As of right now, there is no timetable for his return, but the organization is optimistic that he will pitch this year. I think the Cardinals can still compete without him. They have solid pieces in the system that could be used for trade bait, or Roy Oswalt still looms on the free agent market. Not to mention, they competed without Wainwright last season, so this is obviously a team that is used to overcoming adversity like this.
Ehsan: Adam Wainwright missed all of last season due to injury. How has he looked so far in spring and what kind of production do you expect out of him?
Justin: Wainwright has looked solid. Through four spring starts, he pitched 14 innings, struck out nine, and allowed no earned runs. He just finished a five inning shutout performance of the Marlins (had to throw that out there) and his control has looked solid. As far as the season, I think it is unreasonable to expect a complete return to Cy Young numbers in his first season back, but I don’t expect him to lay an egg either. I wouldn’t be surprised by an ERA in the high 2s or low 3s with 14-17 wins and about 160 ks. The big question will be innings, as management may not want to push him, but that’s a bridge to cross later.
Ehsan: Lance Berkman was the NL Comeback Player of the Year in 2011. His numbers last season were sensational. Can we expect Berkman to post similar numbers or is there going to be some regression in 2012?
Justin: I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but I expect a fairly similar season out of Berkman. There might be slight regression from his MVP contending stat line for 2011, but not so much that he’s competing for the Comeback award again in 2013. His 2011 numbers are actually more in line with his recent performance than his abysmal 2010 performance, so as long as he stays healthy, I don’t see a major decline.
Ehsan: One of the funniest things to happen this spring has to be the FSN Midwest cameras labeling a Cardinals prospect as “Minor League Guy.” What can you tell us about the “Minor League Guy?”
Justin: Well, “Minor League Guy” will more than likely end the year at AA and just finished off a campaign at the single A Quad Cities affiliate where he put up an OPS of 1.028. He has tremendous upside and is probably the best offensive prospect the Cardinals have seen since Colby Rasmus. “Minor League Guy” is 19-year-old sensation Oscar Taveras.
Ehsan: Is Jason Motte the Cardinals closer or are we still waiting for TRL to confirm it?
Justin: Haha, well don’t hold your breath on any confirmation from Tony. Especially considering he refused to acknowledge it during the postseason even though I personally didn’t see any other pitchers finishing off tight games. As it stands right now, Motte is definitely penciled in as the closer. However, although he currently has a 2.08 ERA in spring, he has a 3:8 strikeout to walk ratio, so if he struggles to locate his pitches, he could have a short leash. Especially with live arms like Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez behind him.
You can check out the preview Justin wrote up on Redbird Rants and the answers I had for his questions.
- Going to be interesting to see how JJ looks in his first start of the 2012 season. Is he going to have a pitch limit?
- Kyle Loshe is one of the best pitchers in baseball at holding runners from stealing bases. How is this going to affect Reyes and Bonifacio’s games? Will Ozzie Guillen still keep an aggressive approach on the bases.
- How are the Miami Marlins players going to react to being on a nationally televised game? Jose Reyes is the only Marlin regular with a lot of exposure to this.
- Most important question, how many times is the home run structure going to go off on opening night? How long before fans start booing home runs because of this monstrosity?
- Match up of the game has to be Kyle Loshe and Jose Reyes trying to steal off of him.
Marlins take a 5-4 lead into the top of the 9th. Closer Heath Bell comes in for his first save chance with the Fish. Bell blows the save, but Giancarlo Stanon goes on to hit a walk-off home run. The Marlins fans fall immediately in love with the home run structure because of Stanton!
To make your predictions for what will happen in the game or to answer any of my notes, just leave a comment.