Every day in spring training until we finish the entire league, Big League Stew takes a brief capsule look at each team we visit in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. Next stop is Jupiter, Fla., where skipper Edwin Rodriguez manages a couple of superstars and has the framework of a contending team. But will anyone in Florida notice?
2010 RECORD: 80-82
BIGGEST ACQUISITIONS: Javier Vazquez(notes) doesn't have New York to kick him around anymore, so the Marlins will need him to revert to the mean, away from the mean streets of the Bronx. Infielder Omar Infante(notes) came over in the Dan Uggla(notes) deal, as did lefty Mike Dunn(notes). Right-handers Edward Mujica(notes) and Ryan Webb(notes) came from the Padres for outfield prospect eternal Cameron Maybin(notes).
BIGGEST DEPARTURES: The Marlins would be in better position to overtake the Phillies, but they couldn't agree on a contract extension for Uggla, so he had to be dismissed. They also got tired of waiting for Maybin, committing to Chris Coghlan(notes) as the center fielder of today/tomorrow.
FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MARLINS
Many complained about his drop in production at the plate, but what about in the field? Hanley never has had great UZR/150 or Total Zone ratings, and the 2010 season marked the third time in five seasons he was in double-digit negatives in UZR/150. If he's neutral, as he more or less was in 2008-09, then he's much more valuable at short. But if his defense deteriorates, the Fish might want to think about putting Ozzie Martinez(notes) at short and nudging Ramirez over to third base, a la A-Rod. An alternative is to keep running Wes Helms(notes) out there, God bless him.
2. How good is Mike Stanton(notes)? Outfielder Logan Morrison(notes) says Stanton has potential to be one of the all-time best players in the game. Stanton made a strong debut (.259/.326/.507) as a 20-year-old, though his strikeout-walk ratio was a bit annoying. How does a career like that of Dave Winfield grab you?
3. When's that new retractable-roof stadium done? It's on schedule for opening day 2012, and it looks pretty sweet, too. (Check out a web cam of the construction site.) Then again, an abandoned munitions dump would have more charm than Sun Life (the former Joe Robbie, Pro Player, Dolphin, etc.) Stadium. Ticket sales are brisk, the club claims, for premium seats! The Marlins have had legendary attendance problems since their first season in South Florida.
4. Ace Josh Johnson(notes) still will be around for the new park, right? He's locked up, contractually, through 2013. Of course, you never know with these Marlins, who infamously have had big sell-offs (and smaller ones). But Johnson, whose socks intimidate as much as his stuff, is the kind of staff leader with whom you can win a World Series. Hey, the Fish have done it before (in '97 and '03). And then they receded into the shadows. Or is it the shallows, being Marlins? Whichever, it is the Marlin way.
5. Hey, did you just imply that the Marlins could win the World Series? No question, it was implied. Well, there's plenty of questions about the Marlins, but with luck they could win the NL East. And if you get into the playoffs, you can win them. Their starting pitching is potentially dominating at the top — if Ricky Nolasco(notes) makes a small leap — and the pitching is fairly deep overall. If Coghlan isn't healthy in center and Helms is really the third baseman most of the time, Florida probably has one too many lineup holes to win 90.