The 2011 season could not end fast enough for the Florida Marlins. After a great start to the season, an injury to Josh Johnson and a 5-23 record in June had fans counting down the days until 2012. They have a new name, the Miami Marlins, and a brand new state-of-the-art ballpark, so it’s time to put 2011 to rest and focus on the new 2012.
The new park is supposed to favor the pitchers, just like the old “football stadium” did, so the park change should not have a large effect on any numbers on that front. However, the Marlins are installing a thicker grass infield to slow down ground balls. This might not be that big of a factor, but when you have Emilio Bonicafio and the newly signed Jose Reyes, this could be very big. Bonifacio’s 45 infield hits a year ago were second only to Juan Pierre’s 46. Reyes added 24 infield hits, tied for 18th most in the league. Adding more infield hits for these two could really help out in three fantasy categories: runs, steals, and average.
With speed at the top of the order, look for lots of run-scoring opportunities for Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez. Ramirez is making the move to third base this year, which created a lot of early buzz, but it sounds like he has a new attitude and is ready to go. Stanton, only 22 years old, could be in for a big year after crushing 34 bombs a year ago. Morrison could be a big sleeper this year; he quietly (and it’s hard to say “quietly” about Morrison the way the man tweets) hit 23 homers last year and drove in 72 runs. I would expect these numbers to greatly increase with Ramirez back in the lineup and Reyes slotted in.
The Marlins front office said the key is starting pitching and they struggled last year. Johnson, who can be as good as anyone when healthy, went down, while Ricky Nolasco disappointed. They went out and signed Mark Buerhle from the White Sox and traded for Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano has attitude trouble, but new manager Ozzie Guillen knows him really well and it could pay off. Anibal Sanchez could surprise this year after posting 202 strikeouts last season.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2012 fantasy baseball drafts.
|C John Buck||.227||.316||.367||41||16||57||0||466|
|1B Gaby Sanchez||.266||.352||.427||72||19||78||3||572|
|2B Omar Infante||.276||.315||.382||55||7||49||4||579|
|SS Jose Reyes||.337||.384||.493||101||7||44||39||537||w/NYM|
|3B Hanley Ramirez||.243||.333||.379||55||10||45||20||338|
|LF Logan Morrison||.247||.330||.468||54||23||72||2||462|
|CF Emilio Bonifacio||.296||.360||.393||78||5||36||40||565|
|RF Mike Stanton||.262||.356||.537||79||34||87||5||516|
Unsettled: Center field. If the Marlins don’t sign Yoenis Cespedes, center field should belong to Bonifacio. He reminds me of Willie Mays Hayes of Major League fame, and I think the Marlins were wanting him to do the pushups too. He had trouble laying off the high fastball and taking pitches, but something happened when Jack McKeon took over last year. He started taking more pitches and putting the ball on the ground. He wound up hitting .296 and stealing 40 bases. What really makes him great for fantasy purposes is that he’s eligible at 3B, SS and OF. He could be a real bargain this year.
Target: Logan Morrison. Morrison is being ranked as low as 50 to 60 in outfielder rankings. He is coming off an up-and-down year where he was even sent down to the minors for a few weeks. The Marlins front office was supposedly upset with all the tweeting he does and sent him a message with the demotion. All of this aside, Morrison still hit 23 homers and drove in 72 runs. Morrison has a ton of upside and could be a steal late in the draft. I can see 30 homers and an average around .290.
|Josh Johnson (R)||3-1||1.64||0.98||56||20||60.1|
|Anibal Sanchez (R)||8-9||3.67||1.28||202||64||196.1|
|Mark Buerhle (L)||13-9||3.59||1.30||109||45||205.1||w/CHW|
|Ricky Nolasco (R)||10-12||4.67||1.40||148||44||206.0|
|Carlos Zambrano (R)||9-7||4.82||1.44||101||56||145.2||w/CHC|
Unsettled: Carlos Zambrano. New Manager Ozzie Guillen talked the Marlins into trading for Zambrano this offseason. He has a good relationship with him and thinks he can right his ship. It’s a large ship to right though. Zambrano will most likely go undrafted in fantasy leagues, but he did go 8-0 with a 1.41 ERA over his final 11 starts in 2010 when he was “right.” Unfortunately, the past few years his attitude and stats have gone hand in hand. I would keep a eye on him though.
Target: Anibal Sanchez. If every baseball fan was asked to name the 14 pitchers to strike out over 200 guys last year, how many would name Sanchez? Not many. Sanchez struck out 202 last year, his second season after ongoing shoulder trouble. In the first three months of last year, he went 6-1 with a 2.82 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings. He was picked up by everyone then, but was almost forgotten at the end of the year. I think he was just wearing down some since he had not pitched so many innings before. But I believe that another year of being healthy was great, and he will be able to do that over the whole season now. He could be a big time sleeper.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Heath Bell (R)||43||2.44||1.15||51||21||62.2||w/SD|
|Steve Cishek (R)||3||2.63||1.17||55||19||54.2|
Chasing Saves: The Marlins were always trying to find a old closer and make him a new closer again like Todd Jones and Joe Borowoski. They would just call the local nursing homes and ask for anyone with closing experience. But they finally went out and got a top notch closer this year in Heath Bell. Some are saying hes slowing down since he didn’t strikeout people at the same rate last year. But the bottom line is he got the job done and will get plenty of chances this year.
The Miami Marlins (it’s still weird saying that) have a chance to make some noise this year. The whole key is going to be John Johnson’s health and how Buerhle and Zambrano fit in. I believe with the signing of Reyes they will have enough offense to compete with the Phillies and Braves, but they need their pitching. There are a few sleepers out there with Bonifacio and Morrison. I also wouldn’t be afraid to grab Stanton earlier than most. He could hit 45 homers this year with his amazing power.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the New York Mets.
Brent Meyer is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Brent in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of brentameyer.
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