Jump to content


NY Times baseball writer picks Marlins to win wild card, Stanton to wi


fishfan46
 Share

Recommended Posts

A pretty nice article giving some national recognition for the fish.

Fearless Prediction: Marlins Will Be Unpredictable

 

By TYLER KEPNER

When the Philadelphia Phillies started their streak of four National League East titles, the Mets were their primary rival. Last season, the Atlanta Braves led the division into September and snagged the wild card. The Washington Nationals have been annual also-rans.

 

But what about the Florida Marlins, the mystery team of the N.L.? They are underfinanced, prodded by Major League Baseball and the union to increase spending before last season. They are unloved, ranking last in the league in attendance five years running as they build a retractable-roof ballpark for 2012.

 

They are also unpredictable, and that makes them dangerous.

 

“When we played the Marlins, you never knew what you were going to get,� said Florida infielder Greg Dobbs, who spent the past four years in Philadelphia. “They could, on any given night, just jump out and beat you. You never had a comfortable handle on them.�

 

The Marlins went 80-82 last season and traded their leading run producer, second baseman Dan Uggla, to Atlanta. Much of their exhibition season was marked by nagging injuries, sloppy defense and struggles by their top starting pitchers.

 

The safe bet is to consign the Marlins to that netherworld where they usually reside, scary on any given night but rarely a factor in the pennant race. They know that is how people see them.

 

“It’s just a feeling of us against the world,� left fielder Logan Morrison said. “I think that’s a good feeling to have, when you’re an underdog and nobody’s writing about you. For us to earn the respect, we have to go out and win a divisional championship and win a World Series.�

 

Every team dreams big in spring training, but the Marlins — World Series champions in 1997 and 2003 — are overdue for their latest unlikely postseason run. They may not have the defense and shutdown bullpen that is usually essential to October success, but their youth just might carry them to the playoffs.

 

“We understand that Philly is the top dog on paper because they’ve been there more lately,� said center fielder Chris Coghlan, the 2009 N.L. rookie of the year. “But that doesn’t change our opinion on how we feel about us as a team. We feel that our youth can be used in a positive way, and we’re very talented.�

 

Consider the essential elements in place. The Marlins have a true No. 1 starter in Josh Johnson, last season’s league leader in earned run average at 2.30. They have a centerpiece shortstop in Hanley Ramirez. They signed the All-Star catcher John Buck; traded Uggla for a starting infielder (Omar Infante) and a power left-hander(Mike Dunn) to improve a deeper bullpen; and returned starter Javier Vazquez to the comforts of the N.L.

 

Most important, perhaps, the Marlins have Mike Stanton, a right fielder who might become the best offensive force in the N.L. not named Albert Pujols. That is saying a lot in a league with Ryan Howard, Troy Tulowitzki, Joey Votto and Ryan Zimmerman. But Stanton could be that good.

 

“He’s going to hit 40 and drive in 150,� Morrison said. “He’s the real deal, man. He’s 21 years old. He’s just scraping the surface of what he can do. I’ve always thought he can be one of the best players to ever play the game.�

 

Stanton split last season between Class AA Jacksonville and the Marlins, hitting 21 home runs in the minors and 22 more in the majors. For a sliver above the minimum salary, the Marlins could have a run producer with extraordinary value.

 

That is typical of the Marlins, who tend to get much of a player’s prime and let someone else pay him his fortune. After bringing Stanton, Morrison and Gaby Sanchez to the majors last season, they are poised to have several strong hitters emerge at the same time.

 

“Last year, a lot of those guys were still wondering if they belong there,� Manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “They wanted to prove it to themselves and prove it to everybody. This year, they know they belong here, and they can concentrate on performance and doing the things that will help us win ballgames. Now you can see them being themselves, and that’s good.�

 

Picking the Marlins to reach the playoffs assumes a lot. The young players cannot regress; starters Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad must continue to improve behind Johnson; and Coghlan must show he can handle center field after a spring shoulder injury. Even Rodriguez concedes that the Marlins have little margin for error. He was referring to personnel, but could just as easily have been talking about himself, because the owner Jeffrey Loria expects a serious contender.

 

In some seasons, that would seem irrational, and maybe it still is. The Phillies have unmatched starting pitching, and the Braves have bigger names.

 

But here’s a guess that the Marlins will find their way in, and that opposing pitchers will experience what the veteran Randy Choate felt last season when he faced the Marlins while pitching for Tampa Bay.

 

“They showed that they had way more pop than you’d think they’d have,� said Choate, who signed a two-year deal with Florida. “All of a sudden, you’d find yourself battling — like: ‘Wait a second, what happened? This is supposed to be the Marlins.’ �

 

If these Marlins play like that version — if they harness their potential consistently — the final baseball game at their stadium will take place in the postseason.

 

Few teams have done that, though it happened three times in a recent 10-year span, with the Braves in 1996, the Houston Astros in 1999 and the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005. The Astros have not won a playoff series since they shuttered old Busch Stadium in St. Louis, but they showed signs of life last season, with a winning record in the second half.

 

Houston needs a middle-of-the-order thumper to help the declining Carlos Lee, and they just might have one in Brett Wallace, the often-traded first baseman who captured the Pacific-10 triple crown twice (2007 and 2008) at Arizona State.

 

“He was way better than me in college,� said the Mets’ Ike Davis, a Sun Devils teammate. “He was more of a mature hitter than I was, he performed better, he had a better approach. Everybody knew Wally was going to be really good. Give him a full season, and he’s going to put it together.�

 

The Astros will not be playoff favorites, but they or the Chicago Cubs could sneak into contention if other N.L. Central starters continue to fall to injury. In spring training, the Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright for the season (elbow), the MILWAUKEE BREWERS learned they will start the season without Zack Greinke (fractured rib) and the Cincinnati Reds’ Johnny Cueto hurt his shoulder.

 

The rest of the Cardinals’ rotation is solid, and the Reds will put their depth to use in Cueto’s absence — though the Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman will stay in the bullpen. Chapman, the game’s hardest thrower, added a tattoo to his left wrist to commemorate his peak velocity: a baseball with flames and the inscription “105.1 MPH.�

 

The Brewers have a Cuban player, too, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, whom they took from Kansas City in the Greinke trade. Greinke, who was hurt playing basketball, must heal quickly: without him and Shaun Marcum (who has been slowed by a shoulder injury) last season, the Brewers’ staff E.R.A. was 4.59.

 

Only two staffs were worse: Arizona’s and Pittsburgh’s. Just two left-handers in baseball allowed 650 hits in fewer than 600 innings over the last three seasons, and both were Pirates: Paul Maholm and Zach Duke. Now Duke pitches for — you guessed it — Arizona. He broke his hand in spring training and will miss the start of the season.

 

The Diamondbacks will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their only championship by wearing vintage purple uniforms for a game against San Diego in September. The Padres, alas, will not be wearing their sand-colored road uniforms that night; they have phased out that design for basic gray.

 

The Padres were the surprise of the West last season, contending until Game 162. They traded Adrian Gonzalez but added a few veteran infielders and became the latest team to try to harness center fielder Cameron Maybin’s potential. Maybin turns 24 in April and is worth a long look.

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies, playoff teams in 2009, will try to vault the defending champion San Francisco Giants. Besides the postseason stalwarts Edgar Renteria (Reds) and Juan Uribe (Dodgers), the Giants bring back almost all of their team, though closer Brian Wilson was bothered by a strained oblique muscle in spring training.

 

Even if Wilson is down, the Giants will still have a right-handed reliever with a bushy black beard: Sergio Romo, the setup man, who still sounds awed that he plays for the World Series champions.

 

“I don’t know how I weaseled my way onto this team,� Romo said. “I believe I worked hard enough and deserve an opportunity to be part of the major league fraternity. But to be a part of a team like this — holy cow, it’s a dream.�

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Jayson Stark also picked us to win the wildcard, I believe.

 

 

And I keep saying that if you start off hoping for 2nd place, you have already lost. We didn't go into '97 or '03 thinking that. I want at least a Division Championship flag flying next to the two WS Championship flags on Opening Day 2012. A little less is acceptable, not strived for.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jayson Stark also picked us to win the wildcard, I believe.

 

 

And I keep saying that if you start off hoping for 2nd place, you have already lost. We didn't go into '97 or '03 thinking that. I want at least a Division Championship flag flying next to the two WS Championship flags on Opening Day 2012. A little less is acceptable, not strived for.

 

I don't think we're "hoping" for second place. I believe 3 teams could honestly win the NL East.

 

And also, second place has been a kind mistress to us in the past so... I wouldn't object to it again :thumbup

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jayson Stark also picked us to win the wildcard, I believe.

 

 

And I keep saying that if you start off hoping for 2nd place, you have already lost. We didn't go into '97 or '03 thinking that. I want at least a Division Championship flag flying next to the two WS Championship flags on Opening Day 2012. A little less is acceptable, not strived for.

 

Who's hoping?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All these predictions mean garbage really but its cool to see the Fish getting some respect. For what it's worth ESPN the Mag has us going... 78-84

 

I saw that, and has the Nationals finishing ahead of us. Pour more disrespect onto us, go ahead national media, hate on us. And then weep tears of anguish when we crush you ! :thumbup :thumbup :thumbup :thumbup

 

I AM READY FOR THE SEASON !!!!! :notworthy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jayson Stark also picked us to win the wildcard, I believe.

 

 

And I keep saying that if you start off hoping for 2nd place, you have already lost. We didn't go into '97 or '03 thinking that. I want at least a Division Championship flag flying next to the two WS Championship flags on Opening Day 2012. A little less is acceptable, not strived for.

Yeah, that's totally exactly what happened there.

 

Not that we were talking about getting some pub from writers calling us a playoff team.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jayson Stark also picked us to win the wildcard, I believe.

 

 

And I keep saying that if you start off hoping for 2nd place, you have already lost. We didn't go into '97 or '03 thinking that. I want at least a Division Championship flag flying next to the two WS Championship flags on Opening Day 2012. A little less is acceptable, not strived for.

 

I don't think we're "hoping" for second place. I believe 3 teams could honestly win the NL East.

 

And also, second place has been a kind mistress to us in the past so... I wouldn't object to it again :thumbup

 

Didn't say I would object to it. I just refuse to go into the season thinking this is the best we can hope for. If you can't take the top dog in your division, or at least play nose to nose with them, you can't be expecting much more than a quick and short play off attendance.

 

I agree with you on the East. I think there are 3 legitimate contenders for the NL East. I'm even hearing more and more how the Braves are becoming the fav because of the holes the Phillies have. It's a good thing the games actually have to be played.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jayson Stark also picked us to win the wildcard, I believe.

 

 

And I keep saying that if you start off hoping for 2nd place, you have already lost. We didn't go into '97 or '03 thinking that. I want at least a Division Championship flag flying next to the two WS Championship flags on Opening Day 2012. A little less is acceptable, not strived for.

Yeah, that's totally exactly what happened there.

 

Not that we were talking about getting some pub from writers calling us a playoff team.

 

Nice try. I'm not talking about just this article. I'm talking almost every article AND posts on this site. Win the Wild Card!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jayson Stark also picked us to win the wildcard, I believe.

 

 

And I keep saying that if you start off hoping for 2nd place, you have already lost. We didn't go into '97 or '03 thinking that. I want at least a Division Championship flag flying next to the two WS Championship flags on Opening Day 2012. A little less is acceptable, not strived for.

Yeah, that's totally exactly what happened there.

 

Not that we were talking about getting some pub from writers calling us a playoff team.

 

Nice try. I'm not talking about just this article. I'm talking almost every article AND posts on this site. Win the Wild Card!!

 

If fans start off hoping for 2nd place, or first place, or last place in the AL West, or if they just hope to avoid relegation in the English Premiere league, it will have nothing to do with the outcome of the season.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jayson Stark also picked us to win the wildcard, I believe.

 

 

And I keep saying that if you start off hoping for 2nd place, you have already lost. We didn't go into '97 or '03 thinking that. I want at least a Division Championship flag flying next to the two WS Championship flags on Opening Day 2012. A little less is acceptable, not strived for.

 

I have been hoping they win the wild card, so I guess we are already doomed to failure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I'd love to see the Marlins win the wild card, I think our sights should be focused on the Division! I know the Phillies have that insanse pitching staff, but I think we have the talent to overcome that! maybe im just being a homer, lol... Go Marlins!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I'd love to see the Marlins win the wild card, I think our sights should be focused on the Division! I know the Phillies have that insanse pitching staff, but I think we have the talent to overcome that! maybe im just being a homer, lol... Go Marlins!

 

 

I agree about the Phillies pitching staff EXCEPT the age of the team when it comes to stamina, accidents/injuries, etc. may take the toll on them. Making through the season without any of those type of problems would be a MIRACLE, and not something I expect to see happen. Consequently I don't necessarily think it will be a runaway division.

 

 

Braves worry me more, but they have Freddy........now we'll see how he acts without the Marlins' Loria and FO. That's where an unknown is. He's certainly not Bobby, but is he the Marlins' "Freddy"????

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...