Every day this week, Philthy Stuff will be taking a look at each of the teams in the National League East, as they look to unseat the Philadelphia Phillies. Next up, the Miami Marlins.
Of all the teams in the National League east, no team has undergone such a dramatic, on-the-field face-lift more than the Miami Marlins. Literally. After spending the first 19 years of their existence playing in the same stadium occupied by the Miami Dolphins, the Fish finally got a brand new stadium to call their own, as well as a shiny new "Miami" in their name. Now all they need to do is fill it up with fans, so it's a good thing that they went out and added some big names to their roster.
The first big splash of the off-season came when shortstop Jose Reyes, who spent his entire career with the New York Mets, signed a six year, $106 milion contract with the Marlins, as they looked to build off of their young and promising core.
Reyes, who led the National League in hitting (.337) in 2011, supplanted incumbent shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who will spend the year manning third base. Not only does Reyes' addition give the Marlins a dynamic leadoff hitter, it also gives them perhaps the best left side of the infield in the National League.
Rounding out the infield is second baseman Omar Infante, the power-hitting first baseman Gaby Sanchez and backstop John Buck.
In the outfield, the Marlins feature one of the great young power hitters in the game in Giancarlo (formerly Mike) Stanton, who, at 22-years-old, is creating quite a reputation for himself. Across the outfield is the fan favorite Logan Morrison, who is as good a hitter as he is a Twitter celebrity, with the speedy Emilio Bonifacio in center field.
On the mound, the Marlins feature a solid rotation, with perennial (albeit frequently injured) ace Josh Johnson, righties Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco, veteran lefty Mark Buehrle and right-hander Carlos Zambrano.
The Marlins will have promising young arms and the addition of Buehrle (via free agency) and Zambrano (via trade) gives them added depth and experience. Although Zambrano has had his issues in his time with the Chicago Cubs, he is only 30-years-old, and can very much be a fantastic addition for the back end of their rotation.
Like the Atlanta Braves, the Marlins have a lot to like. Their lineup is full of young and dynamic hitters and their rotation is as solid as they come. Of course, they are not without their issues.
First, Jose Reyes has been prone to injuries over the past few years, and both Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton are questionable for the start of the season due to injuries of their own. And while Josh Johnson is one of the best, young pitchers in the game, he is consistently a health risk.
However, the Marlins seem like the most likely National League east team to knock off the Phillies. If they can stay healthy, they have enough offense and pitching to go toe-to-toe with the reigning division champs. That's a big if, because three of their biggest contributors (Johnson, Ramirez, Reyes) have all dealt with injuries.
My Prediction: Like the Marlins of the past, expect them to get off to a fast start, but don't be surprised if it doesn't last. There is a lot to like about the Marlins, but one or two injuries here or there could derail there season. They could see time atop the division. And the addition of two new playoff spots could lead them to their first playoff berth since 2003. Just don't expect them to win the division.