The 2012 season was supposed to be one of celebration for the Marlins franchise. A name switch from the “Florida Marlins” to the “Miami Marlins” joined a brand-new stadium and a relatively high-dollar roster that included additions Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle to give Marlins fans hope that the team’s next title was just around the corner.
It wasn’t. The Marlins struggled early before ownership completely dismantled the purported contender, shipping Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez off in mid-season and continuing the trend in the offseason by dealing Reyes, Buehrle, Josh Johnson and others. Now all that’s left is slugger Giancarlo Stanton and a bunch of fringe fantasy talent. Is this team even worth discussing for fantasy purposes? Is there value to be had?
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 2013 fantasy baseball drafts.
|C Rob Brantly||.290||.372||.460||14||3||8||1||113|
|1B Logan Morrison||.230||.308||.399||30||11||36||1||334|
|2B Donovan Solano||.295||.342||.375||29||2||28||7||316|
|SS Adeiny Hechavarria||.254||.280||.365||10||2||15||0||137||w/TOR|
|3B Placido Polanco||.257||.302||.327||28||2||19||0||328||w/PHI|
|LF Juan Pierre||.307||.351||.371||59||1||29||37||439||w/PHI|
|CF Justin Ruggiano||.313||.374||.535||38||13||36||14||320|
|RF Giancarlo Stanton||.290||.361||.608||75||37||86||6||501|
Unsettled: Infield. The only projected Marlins starter who topped 500 plate appearances last season was star Giancarlo Stanton, and he did so by just a single appearance. The starting jobs at several positions are going to be up in the air when that happens, and that appears to be the case in the infield. Adeiny Hechavarria and Placido Polanco could make a case for the worst left-side-of-the-infield in baseball, and Donovan Solano can’t claim much better at second base. Greg Dobbs, Zack Cox and others could battle for playing time in spring training. Rob Brantly could platoon with Jeff Mathis at catcher, while first baseman Logan Morrison may not be ready for opening day while recovering from knee surgery. Consider the entire IF hands off in most leagues.
Target: Justin Ruggiano. Stanton will garner most of the fantasy attention — and he deserves it — but the value at the position may come from Ruggiano. He excelled in his first shot at major-league work, and while his .313 batting average was propped up by an insane .401 BABIP that is the poster child for “unrepeatable,” he has a nice power/speed profile that may stay under-the-radar as everyone projects major regression. The Bill James projection has him hitting .278 with 19 HRs and 24 SBs, and while the average may be a little high, that kind of profile plays in most leagues. Need HRs and SBs at the end of your draft? No you don’t. Justin Ruggiano’s got this.
|Ricky Nolasco (R)||12-13||4.48||1.37||125||47||191.0|
|Henderson Alvarez (R)||9-14||4.85||1.44||79||54||187.1||w/TOR|
|Wade LeBlanc (L)||2-5||3.67||1.31||43||19||68.2|
|Jacob Turner (R)||2-5||4.42||1.20||36||16||55.0||w/2T|
|Nathan Eovaldi (R)||4-13||4.30||1.51||78||47||119.1||w/2T|
Unsettled: With Ricky Nolasco’s name popping up on the trade block as well this offseason, the Marlins rotation threatens to be almost as bad as its infield. Even with Nolasco as the team’s nominal ace, the rotation is led by a guy who wasn’t able to turn excellent K/BB numbers into ERA improvements, but who conversely dropped his strikeout rate and became more hittable en route to earning his mediocre ERAs in recent seasons. Henderson Alvarez, Wade LeBlanc and Nathan Eovaldi are perfectly forgettable. Jacob Turner has a little upside as former top prospect, but he needs to bring his K rate up before being a worthy investment. Brad Hand, Alex Sanabia, John Maine and Kevin Slowey could wind up replacing any of the projected starters at any point.
Target: Jose Fernandez. Save yourself the trouble of investing in a Marlins starting pitcher in redraft leagues. In dynasty leagues and rookie drafts, Fernandez is well worth grabbing now. He breezed through Class-A and Class-A Advanced in his age-19 season last year, going 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA, 10.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 25 starts. A first-round pick in the 2011 draft, Fernandez could well make his MLB debut this September and be poised to rank highly on all sleeper lists next offseason. If your league setup rewards jumping in on future stars early (either with reserve-style farm systems or incredibly deep active rosters), add Fernandez while you still can.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Steve Cishek (R)||15||2.69||1.30||68||29||63.2|
|Jon Rauch (R)||4||3.59||0.99||42||12||57.2||w/NYM|
Chasing Saves: When the Heath Bell/Ozzie Guillen mix didn’t work out, Steve Cishek was there to pick up the pieces, turning in a solid season as the team’s closer. He’ll have to cut down on his walk rate if he hopes to stick in the role long term. That’s even if he gets the chance, as the Marlins have been linked to potential usurpers like Jose Valverde this offseason. In fact, they signed one just yesterday, adding Jon Rauch, a guy who has picked up at least two saves in each year since 2006. Rauch is no longer as imposing as he once was on the mound, but coming off a good season for the Mets, he could definitely be a saves option at some point this season.
Last season, there were plenty of Marlins to target in fantasy drafts. This year, not so much. Giancarlo Stanton will be taken very early and could be the leading candidate to win the home-run crown this year. Later in the draft, Justin Ruggiano should provide a solid power/speed combination rolled up into one roster spot. Juan Pierre’s always good for some steals. Avoid all the starting pitching unless you’re in a dynasty league and Jose Fernandez is still available. And keep an eye on what the Marlins do within the next few weeks to address their bullpen deficiency, as a February or March signee could come in and scoop up saves immediately.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the New York Mets.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and contributes to CBSSports.com's MLB Rumors blog. He has previously written for FanHouse, Razzball and FanDuel. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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