Have Miami Marlins Done Enough Holiday Shopping To Compete?
As 2016 mercifully (RIP celebrities) draws to a close, the time has come here at Marlin Maniac to take stock of the current state of the Miami Marlins. Did the hometown nine do enough holiday shopping to be competitive in 2017, or is disappointment and regression heading our way next season?
The answer is complicated, but it’s also an answer that should be well familiar to Marlins fans.
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Yes, they have done just enough…if everything goes right.
The Marlins are absolutely better today than they were on the last day of the season. But are they better than they were on September 24th, before the passing of franchise face Jose Fernandez? The answer to that question is almost assuredly no.
What deficiencies exist, however, certainly aren’t there for lack of trying. Of the five best pitchers available in free agency, the club signed two and made a run at four of them; faint rumors still even link Miami to best remaining pitching prize in Jason Hammel. Edinson Volquez and Brad Ziegler were sensational additions, while Jeff Locke and Junichi Tazawa add needed depth and bounce back potential thanks to pitching whisperer Jim Benedict. While no one in the starting five is close to matching Fernandez in terms of talent, the rotation might (admittedly terrifyingly) be deeper than it was on Opening Day 2016, and last year’s breakout bullpen has been strengthened in order to stretch out the team’s greatest weakness.
The greatest weakness unless even one offensive star gets injured for any length of time, slumps, is suspended, flukishly fails at a staggering rate with RISP, or anything else you can think of that helped cause the Marlins to only drive in more runs than two clubs in all of baseball last season that is.
Even adding a valued, veteran bench piece would go a long way towards redressing this, but the current path to success for the 2017 club is one entirely dependent on health and players either sustaining their breakout 2016 success or returning to their previous form.
Giancarlo Stanton playing like he did prior to his 2014 injury, while avoiding the kinds of injuries that hampered him in 203 or 2015. Dee Gordon playing like he did the previous two seasons, proving that it wasn’t all the illegal performance enhancers talking. Justin Bour continuing to produce, Martin Prado not starting to show his age, J.T. Realmuto sustaining his success, and Christian Yelich doing the same.
In other words, the Marlins are counting on a lot breaking their way, before we even get to the fact that a lot of the starting pitchers on the roster need to have bounce back years as well.
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If it all works out, you can see a way for next year to be a fun one to watch. A winning season is by no means too much to ask, especially when you consider that the two teams the Marlins did outscore in 2016 both play in the NL East. Playoffs? That’s a tall order as presently constituted, but I’ll hold off on any prognosticating until the New Year.
There’s plenty of talent on paper, but given how the last couple seasons have played out, betting on the degree of health the Marlins seem to be counting on seems risky at best. Color me hopeful though- it’s what the holidays are for.
Happy holidays Marlin Maniacs. See you in 2017.