I was scrolling through my Twitter feed one day when I came across this Jon Heyman tweet. Yes, the same ol´ Jon who a couple of years ago suggested in an MLB Network show that check swings should be an automatic strike. I know he makes a wonderful 1-2 punch with Bob Nightengale when it comes to reporting on Twitter. Here is the tweet:
Bob hurt me already in the CBA meetings when he tweeted that the owners and MLBPA were closing in on the deal but then it did not happen. So when Jon throws a tweet saying that the Marlins are looking good, I have some reservations. Tough division for sure and hopefully Marlins are not a pushover. I am just not ready to get my hopes sky high again and then collect the pieces of my broken heart already in the middle of June, Jon.
End of an era
There is no such thing as easy going and smooth offseason in the 305 area code. If it isn´t a fire sale of future MVP then it´s is drama in the front office. Derek Jeter´s era in Miami came to end after a little over four years in the ballclub working as a CEO.
The differences in the visions for the future of the franchise are remaining to be seen in the future. Rumours were flying around all winter that Miami was ready to offer a deal to hometown boy Nick Castellanos. Word was that Jeter pushed heavy for this but the ownership went against it. What actually happened in the dark rooms of LoanDepot Park might never come up but all and all, I tip my hat to Jeter for the work he did for this franchise. Beginning a tough rebuild and improving the farm system to one of the best in the league is a great job. Also, it still feels weird that the Marlins made the playoffs in 2020. Man, that was a strange year. This team is now in the hands of general manager Kim Ng who was Jeter’s hire and a truly groundbreaking one in the world of sports. All the best, captain.
If there is something to trust on this Marlins side, it´s pitching. Marlins locked their ace, Sandy Alcantara, during the offseason, signing him to a record-breaking five-year deal for $56 million. The deal is the largest for a first-year arbitration-eligible pitcher in the history of MLB. The Sandman truly deserved this deal as he has established himself as the true ace of this franchise and the hope is that he only gets better. Trevor Rogers had an amazing rookie season last year and almost won the National League Rookie of the Year award. Hopefully, there is no second-year rookie wall to hit and he stays healthy. Speaking of healthy, all I want is Pablo Lopez to stay healthy and show everybody that he is a major part of this franchise. Entering now his age-26 season, Pablo has had a history with injury-shortened seasons as he only logged 102.2 innings last season.
Jesus Luzardo had a rough start to his Marlins career after his trade from the Oakland Athletics. In his 57.1 innings for the Fish last year, he recorded a bloated 6.44 ERA and 1.605 WHIP. Now he has had an offseason close to his home and working with a Marlins pitching staff that has done a great job with arms in recent history. During Spring Training he has shown flashes of what he is capable of doing when the stuff is there.
The biggest anticipation among the Marlins fans is when do we get to see Marlin´s number three ranked prospect, Max Meyer, in the Majors. The first-round pick from the 2020 draft has had a lot of buzzes ever since he was drafted. There could be a spot for the right-hander to come out of the bullpen this season. The question might be when rather than if he makes it to the Majors. Edward Cabrera made his Major League debut last year and has a shot to make this rotation. Cabrera has a 97mph average fastball and if he keeps putting batters away like this with his other stuff, the Marlins have a gem in their hands. Once again.
This team in past years hasn´t been built to be an offensive juggernaut. I looked up the stats for Marlin´s HR leaders since that mind-blowing 59-home run season Giancarlo Stanton had that year. If we combine Marlins’ home runs leaders from 2018-2021 (excluding the 2020 season), they have totalled 65 home runs together. Marlins were near the bottom of all offensive stats last year and to bolster this squad with some offensive talent they brought in Avisail Garcia from the Milwaukee Brewers. The hard-hitting Venezuelan had a great season last year when he hit 29 home runs and had 117 OPS+. Marlins invested a lot for the outfielder as they gave him a four-year deal worth $53 million. Centrefield was and still is a question mark for the Marlins and as the negotiations for the likes of Ramon Laureano and Bryan Reynolds seem to have collapsed due to a high price tag, Marlins went out and got World Series MVP Jorge Soler for a three-year $36 million deal. The Cuban-born slugger will no doubt fit Miami but how he will fit with the lineup and where is he going to be playing. Marlins already have several options for the new universal DH role in Garrett Cooper and Jesus Aguilar. Likely he will get reps in the outfield and to be honest, at end of the day I just want to see bats connected with the ball. That´s all.Embed from Getty Images
On the defensive side, the Marlins made a couple of veteran signings. Joey Wendle was traded from the Tampa Bay Rays for Kameron Misner. Wendle had a solid season on the west coast of Florida and earned himself a first All-Star appearance mainly for his defensive work during the season. The catcher position was upgraded when the Marlins traded for Gold Glove catcher Jacob Stallings from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Stallings is a defence-first type of catcher as in his 103 starts he did not allow a passed ball. He also posted 21 defensive runs saved which led the National League. It will be great to see him work with this young pitching staff. Also, he haunts the Mets.
In conclusion, I think the Marlins are good enough to make some noise but it´s just a tough division. Steve Cohen and the Mets just went on a shopping spree after his meltdown on Twitter, Phillies added bats and then some even more bats to support reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper. The Braves are the champions and just when Freddie Freeman is out of this division they brought in Matt Olson. Nationals on the other hand are just crumbling down to pieces.
Fangraphs projects 82 wins for the Fish, making it 15 more wins than last year. I think that is a lot! I´m bad at making projections so my hopes for the season are that they are still in some sort of form and not completely out of it when the All-Star break arrives and the main goal for me is for them to break 70 wins. Something they last did back in 2017. If they break that early and have a chance for the postseason, then I´m there with Peter Pratt screaming: Marlins are going to win the World Series!
Excited for the new season after a gloomy offseason! Hopefully, everybody is taking care of themselves and staying safe! Go Fish!
Image: Michael Reaves/GettyImages
Tomi Korkeamäki is one of the growing team of writers at Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @TKorkeamaki