Miami paid Giancarlo Stanton to a big contract and traded for some legit talent. They didn’t acquire washed-up players. They acquired guys like Dee Gordon and Mat Latos. Players who are just now hitting their prime.
Miami will be without their ace Jose Fernandez for the first few months of the season. He needed Tommy John last May. He is already throwing off a mound, so they are circling June as a possible return date.
Can they compete for the NL East crown?
Here is the 2015 MLB season preview for the Miami Marlins.
2014 Win/Loss Record: 77-85
Key Additions: SP Mat Latos, SP Dan Haren, 1B Michael Morse, SS Dee Gordon, OF Ichiro Suzuki, 3B Martin Prado, RP Aaron Crow, SP David Phelps, SS Miguel Rojas, RP Preston Claiborne, SP Andre Rienzo, RP Nick Masset, RP Vin Mazzaro, SS Reid Brignac, 1B Don Kelly, 2B Scott Sizemore, OF Tyler Colvin & OF Cole Gillespie
Key Losses: 3B Casey McGehee, SP Andrew Heaney, SP Nathan Eovaldi, 1B Garrett Jones, RP Chris Hatcher, RP Dan Jennings, RP Kevin Slowey, SP Anthony DeSclafani, SP Brad Penny, 2B Rafael Furcal & 2B Ed Lucas
Interleague Schedule: AL East
Projected Starters: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Michael Morse, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Adeiny Hechavarria, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna & Giancarlo Stanton
Projected Starting Rotation: Mat Latos, Jarred Cosart, Henderson Alvarez, Dan Haren & Tom Koehler
Closer: Steve Cishek
Fantasy Sleeper: 1B/OF Michael Morse – Marlins Park isn’t forgiving to hitters, but Morse has enough power to make it work. I’m sure he’d rather hit in a hitter-friendly ballpark like Great American Ballpark or Miller Park. Morse is currently getting drafted in the late rounds. His position flexibility should increase his value. I like him as a 1B/3B flex play or as a fourth or fifth outfielder in a league with five outfield spots.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SP Justin Nicolino – The Marlins said they will not rush their pitching prospects, but Nicolino looks like he’s almost ready for the Majors. He spent the entire season in Double-A in 2014 and went 14-4 with a 2.85 ERA. They stretched him out to 170 innings. He would be ready for a full Major League workload if needed. The Marlins upgraded their rotation this offseason, but he could be needed. Keep an eye on his progress during the season.
Team Analysis: The Marlins have been in perpetual ‘rebuilding mode’ since their last World Series win in 2003. They tease you with elite prospects and then by the time they are ready to contribute at a high level, they can’t afford them anymore. This cycle has been going on since the franchise’s inception.
Miami might have turned the page now that they signed Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year, $325 million contract. The contract is crazy backloaded, so this could all be smoke and mirrors. It’s basically a six-year, $107 million deal, since the Marlins will certainly trade him before his contract gets crazy.
The Marlins made some moves this offseason. They acquired Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Mat Latos and Dan Haren in trades. They also signed slugger Michael Morse and future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki in freee agency. Add those with the return of ace Jose Fernandez mid-season and you have a nice roster.
Miami isn’t ready to make a run at the World Series by any means, but they look to be headed to their first winning season since 2009. It’s a step in the right direction for the franchise.
2015 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 82.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2015 Projected Win/Loss Record: 83-79 (3rd in NL East)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.