NL East Preview: Florida Marlins

The Florida Marlins enter 2009 as a young, cheap team looking to see how well they can do before they have to trade away some players. Again.

The Marlins, who finished 84-77 the year prior, traded away 1B Mike Jacobs to the Kansas City Royals for set-up man Leo Nunez. The Marlins also traded Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen to the Washington Nationals for Emilio Bonifacio and two minor leaguers. Closer Kevin Gregg was dealt to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Jose Ceda.

The top prospects that the Marlins received in the Miguel Cabrera trade 16 months ago are primed to start the season on the major league roster, Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin.

Maybin is expected to bat leadoff and play CF, and he should develop into a great player. Jeremy Hermida and Cody Ross will be the two full-time corner outfielders.  Alfredo Amezaga will serve as the 4th outfielder.

The middle infield does not change much, with Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez returning at 2B and SS respectively. Jorge Cantu will move to 1B, and Emilio Bonifacio has beaten out Dallas McPherson for the starting 3B job.  John Baker will be the catcher.

Ricky Nolasco enters as the ace of the staff, followed closely by Josh Johnson. Anibal Sanchez and top prospects, Andrew Miller and Chris Volstad round out the starting rotation. Matt Lindstrom is the closer.

Notes: Hanley Ramirez moves from leadoff to 3rd in the lineup… Jorge Cantu Can Do both corner infield positions if necessary, so if Bonifacio struggles, prospect Gaby Sanchez can take over at 1B, and Cantu would play 3B… with a new stadium set to open in 2012, it would not be unreasonable to see them give a long term contract to either Nolasco or Johnson, but not both. Currently, Hanley Ramirez is the only player with a long term contract… Dan Uggla is entering his final season as a Marlin, the only question is when he gets traded away. If the Marlins fall out of contention early, he could be gone at the July 31 deadline. If not, he’ll be gone after the season.

This team will score many runs, but will strike out even more.


Now for a game: Movie Star to Met 6 Degrees of Separation.

Can you find the 6 degrees of separation between Brad Pitt and Mike Piazza? The answer will come in the Washington Nationals preview.