The Miami Marlins have been busy this offseason. Their biggest move was signing their own slugger Giancarlo Stanton to a massive 325 million dollar/13 year contract extension. They have also made moves to get better in 2015.
Strengths: Mat Latos had a 3.25 ERA in 2014. That seems consistent with his career 3.34 ERA. He had pitched at least 180 innings and made at least 30 starts every year from 2010-2013.
Concerns: Latos was limited to 102.1 innings due to a flexor mass strain in his elbow. He also had surgery in his left knee to repair cartilage in February, which delayed his first start of the season.
Strengths: Michael Morse hit 16 homeruns while playing half his games at the spacious AT&T. He also hit 32 doubles and drove in 61 runs. He has very good power and should be good lineup protection for Giancarlo Stanton.
Concerns: Morse is a well below average fielder. However, the Marlins are likely playing him at first base, so it shouldn't be a big concern. I would be weary of putting him in the outfield though.
Strengths: Martin Prado is versatile as he has played his career all over the field: 256 games at left field, 414 at third base and 262 at second base. He has played 16 games at shortstop and could be trusted there in a pinch. He is a career .291 hitter and has hit double digit homeruns in 6 consecutive years. He seemed even better after the Diamondbacks sent him to the Yankees. Perhaps motivated more while in a playoff race, he hit .316 for the Yankees with 7 homeruns in just 37 games.
Concerns: As long as the Marlins fans don’t expect too much, they won’t be disappointed. Prado doesn't have tremendous upside, but is an above average, well-rounded player.
Strengths: Dee Gordon is one of the biggest steal threats in baseball. He stole 64 bases and hit .289 in 2014. Gordon is has little power, hitting only 2 homeruns last year. However, he did hit 12 triples and Marlins Park does have some big gaps so we can expect to see a similar number of triples this year. He likely will hit lead-off and have the responsibility to get on base for their power guys.
Concerns: His on-base percentage was .326 last year. Ideally a leadoff hitter is around .350, but I think Gordon could be around that mark this season.
Conclusion: The Marlins got significantly better this offseason. The group of Prado, Gordon, and Morse is a good blend of speed, contact, and power. Adding Latos gives the team a top end starting pitcher. He should be a strong 1-2 when Fernandez returns. Their skills added to the young talent Miami already has could mean baseball October. Ultimately, I see them as a wild card team, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they sneak atop the NL East.
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Jake Wesley is now the only writer for MLB_NL_AL.com all of these articles are ether based on facts and pieces of his opinion.