Jose Fernandez during spring training drills at Roger Dean Stadium. (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Miami Marlins 2014 season preview

Recap of 2013

Record: 62-100, 5th in NL East

The Miami Marlins were, are and may forever be the brunt of many jokes. First year skipper Mike Redmond wasn’t presented much of a roster for last season and the record reflects that. It didn’t help matters that the team’s main bat in Giancarlo Stanton was only able to play in 116 games (504 PA).

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Key additions

2B Rafael Furcal, 1B Garrett Jones, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 3B Casey McGehee, 1B/OF Jeff Baker, OF Brian Bogusevic, RP Carlos Marmol, RP Carter Capps

Key departures

3B Placido Polanco, RP Chad Qualls, OF Austin Kearns, OF Juan Pierre, RP Ryan Webb, OF Chris Coghlan, OF Logan Morrison, OF Justin Ruggiano

Payroll

Cot’s shows the Fish having committed $36.1MM for the upcoming season ($4MM allotted for Heath Bell). If the front office so chooses, they can add a little more. The payroll, as the team currently stands, should peak around $41-43MM. Even if they hit the higher number, their payroll would be $7MM less than Opening Day from last season.

Player to watch

Jose Fernandez – and for every reason imaginable. The 2013 NL Rookie of the Year was simply scintillating in his maiden MLB season. I don’t honestly think there can be much more said about this guy that hasn’t already been said or written.

Must improve upon his 2013

Stanton – All should be well as far as his health. He dazzled us with his bat in 2012 (.290/.361/.608, 37 HR, 86 RBI, 155 OPS+) and took a slight step backward in 2013. Of course, Stanton’s health did play a role in that. A return to that Stanton would prove that Ozzie Guillen was somewhat prophetic.

And will this team ever need his bat. More on that in a few…

Regression candidate

Can it be anyone other than Fernandez? As excellent as his 2013 was, there will be those wanting him to, at the least, repeat that performance. While I don’t think Fernandez will regress in any extreme manner (as we’ve seen some rookies do in the past), he’s set up to fall back at least a little.

And the Davenport projections do that. Can we honestly expect a repeat of a 2.19 ERA? Davenport says no and has him for 3.99. That 0.979 WHIP? Again, no. How’s a projected 1.168 sound?

For 2014…

Will they be able to score any runs?

Miami was last in all of baseball plating just 513 runs. That was 85 less runs that the team ahead of them (Chicago White Sox). And now this team will partially rely on a pair of players that didn’t even post an at-bat in a MLB game last season (Furcal and McGehee)?

Furcal, the 2000 NL Rookie of the Year, missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. And Furcal doesn’t possess the bat these days that he did a few years ago.

McGehee was a teammate of Masahiro Tanaka with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. He crafted a triple slash of .292/.376/.515 with 28 HR and 93 RBI. Those are pretty similar numbers to what he produced for the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2009 and 2010. If that Casey McGehee is in this lineup, those runs should increase.

But what’s the likelihood that McGehee does appear? If you’re Bryan Grosnick of Beyond the Box Score, that McGehee won’t surface.

Sure, Casey can bang out a few homers — if things break his way — but he’s also an out machine, and that translates to low value. His on-base percentage over his past two MLB seasons is bad: .280 and .284 in 2011 and 2012. In order to trump such poor on-base ability, he’ll need to sneak a LOT of the power he showed in Japan back through customs, something I’m not sure will happen, especially with the broad swaths of outfield in Miami. That translates to unacceptable offense, making him a worse offensive option than many defense-first shortstops.

Grosnick also identifies that the Marlins have guys that can play the third base position, but none should actually be MLB starters.

Should be another frustrating season for Marlins fans. Davenport projects a 73-89 record, an improvement of 11 games over last season. That might be a stretch.

Tags: 2014 Season Preview Miami Marlins MLB NL East

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