No team has undergone more of a transformation this offseason than the Florida… I mean Miami Marlins. The name change was the least of the changes that the franchise underwent. They made over their bullpen, lineup, and rotation as well as debuting a whole new logo and uniform look as they move to their brand new stadium.
The question isn’t how much changed, but how much of it will actually pay off. If the people of Florida embrace the new-look Marlins and come out to the games, the team has a nice future outlook. If they continue to get little support, these changes (and any improvement) could be short-lived. Here’s how I think they’ll perform this season:
Jose Reyes-Reyes joined the athletes taking their considerable talents to South Beach. Reyes value is unquestioned as a solid leadoff hitter who reeks havoc on the basepaths and won the NL batting title last year. The only downside for Reyes is his durability. He seems to have a DL stint every year, but is a first round-value in fantasy at SS and a definite building block for the Marlins lineup moving forward.
Heath Bell-Bell will solidify the back end of the bullpen. He got big money for a closer, but he’s proven he’s worth in with at least 40 saves the last 3 years. If Miami is decent, which I think they will be, he could be the top closer in the bigs. He’s definitely top 5.
Mark Buehrle-Buehrle was a surprisingly hot commodity this offseason and ended up joining his manager in his migration to Miami. Buehrle is an innings-eating lefty who gets a major upgrade moving from AL to NL.
Ozzie Guillen-The new Marlins manager will always tell you what he thinks which results in some memorable curse-filled tirades and great fodder for all bloggers and writers for the Marlins. He does get results though, and I think he’s a great fit for Miami as they remake their image and their team as they try to appeal to South Florida.
Wade LeBlanc-Acquired in a trade with the Padres, LeBlanc is a nice depth add with a minor league option as insurance. He’s not an above-average starter or a regular fantasy option, but he can help in your streaming starter situation and provides a nice 6th or 7th option for Miami.
Carlos Zambrano-Zambrano is a total wild card. No risk-high reward for the fish, and Ozzie may be able to get into his fragile psyche and motivate him.
Aaron Rowand and Chad Gaudin are decent depth additions as well
John Baker, Chris Volstad, Mike Cameron, Jose Lopez
1. Jose Reyes-SS: Batting title last year. Although, I think he’s overpaid that doesn’t matter for fantasy. He’s late first or early second round pick and should again provide average, steals, and runs scored in his new South Beach home. He’s good as long as he avoids the DL.
2. Emilio Bonafacio-OF: Bonafacio could be poised for a big year. See below.
3. Hanley Ramirez-3b: Hanley’s declined the last couple years but any offensive production from the 3B spot is a good thing. He’s a top 10 3B easily if he can play over there happily after getting bumped over with the Reyes signing
4. Mike Stanton-OF: or Giancarlo as he’s now going to be called (no Metta World Peace action here it’s really always been his name)… Giancarlo Stanton will be a beast in the middle of this lineup. He’s a top OF bat and if he has any protection should be in for a monster year
5. Logan Morrison-OF: LoMo will make plenty of noise on twitter and the Marlins and fantasy owners hope he can make nearly the same amount of noise in the middle of the lineup.
6. Gaby Sanchez-1b: Sanchez survived the off-season with all the Pujols rumors and will return at first base for the Marlins. He’s an OBP machine and may end up hitting 2. If he end up higher in the order he could have even more value.
7. John Buck-C: Buck’s a decent offensive player for a catcher. If the hitters in front of him produce as expected, he’ll get plenty of RBI potential. Last year, he had 16 home runs which was a major digression from the year before in Toronto. I expect his numbers to land squarely between his 2010 and 2011 production
8. Omar Infante-2B: good fielder with not much offensive upside.
1. Josh Johnson-Johnson’s health is the key to the Miami season. If he stays healthy, I think they’ll be one of the 2 wild card teams and I like their chances to win the playoff game with Johnson starting. There’s risk in drafting him coming off of another injury, but he could be the best NL pitcher in a non-Phillies uniform this year.
2. Mark Buehrle-Buehrle is a great veteran addition whose durability is a perfect counterpoint to the other starters in this rotation. His ERA and WHIP should benefit from the league switch and he should be ownable in mixed leagues throughout the year. At worst, he’s a great streaming option throughout the season.
3. Anibal Sanchez-Sanchez is underrated. See below for more.
4. Ricky Nolasco-Nolasco is almost as much of a wild card as Zambrano. When his sinker’s on he can be great, but he can get shelled when it’s not.
5. Carlos Zambrano-If Zambrano is in a good place mentally, he’s an excellent 5th starter. He can make this an incredibly deep rotation, but he also has the potential do be a total wash-out like last year.
Heath Bell- Doubtless one of the best in baseball. If this team wins 90 expect him to save 40 again this year.
Most Overrated Fantasy Player
Carlos Zambrano-Zambrano is fine as a sleeper. Taking him like a solid #3 starter though (as I’ve seen in some mocks on ESPN) is crazy. He is extremely high-risk but could pay off, but don’t gamble a pick that could get you a much safer option.
Must Underrated Fantasy Player
Anibal Sanchez-Sanchez is one of the far safer picks than Zambrano that big Z was going ahead of in some mocks. Sanchez should again have an ERA under 4 with about 15 wins. His K’s aren’t overwhelming (slightly under 1 per inning) but with an improved lineup expect him to enjoy a great season.
Potential Fantasy Sleeper
Emilio Bonafacio-Bonafacio is valuable since he’s eligible at all kinds of positions. In addition to roster flexibility, he will provide you with plenty of steals and hopefully Runs scored. His OBP isn’t great so with Reyes at 1, he’d be a great 2-hole option if that’s the way Ozzie chooses to go. He and Reyes will both run opponents to death and he should exceed his 40 steals from last year. He hit .296 last year so he actually helps now in the batting average category as well. I think he’ll break into the top teir or 2B/3B as long as he maintains positional eligibility in those positions even though he’ll probably primarily play the outfield.