Entering Spring Training 2010, the environment around the Florida Marlins camp has been significantly different. In recent years, the fans would become all too familiar with the dismantling of the team following successful championships seasons. High priced yet effective veterans were sent packing to maintain one of the league’s lowest payrolls. The goal for the team was simply to try to be competitive in a tough N.L. East division.
This year, Fredi Gonzalez and his Florida Marlins have only one goal in sight, MAKE THE PLAYOFFS. An 84 win season in 2008, followed by last seasons 87 win campaign in which the team finished in second place in the N.L.East is the main reason the Marlins have their sights set on dethroning the Philadelphia Phillies who have finished a top the N.L. East for the past three seasons.
With a very potent offensive attack and a questionable defense in the field (to put it kindly) the Marlin’s starting rotation will sure to be the teams ” X ” factor and will determine how successful Florida is come October. They hope to turn it around from 2009 when they sported the NL’s fourth fewest quality starts (74).
First things first, with a new stadium waiting for the Marlins in 2012, the team displayed their committment to winning during the off-season by inking 6’7″ All-Star Josh Johnson to a 4 year 39 million dollar contract extension. Johnson proved to be a top notch ace and anchor to the rotation by tallying a 15 win season in 2009 with an ERA just over three.
Number two, of the one two punch packed by Florida’s staff this year is Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco comes off a very respectable 13-9 record with a 5.06 ERA in 2009 and had the best spring of any of the starters to date. Nolasco relies on his abilities to pound the strike zone as well as the catcher’s mitt and tally up the “K’s” on the strike out board.
The other three spots are all but set. Anibal Sanchez claims the #3 spot in the rotation and so far appears to be as healthy as he has been since his impressive 2006 rookie season in which he went 10-3 with a 2.83 ERA, including a no-hitter of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Since 2006, Sanchez has been plagued with shoulder issues which has limited is production on the mound.
Chris Volstad secured a spot in the Florida rotation by going 2-1 this spring with a 4.24 ERA , yielding 11 runs in 23.1 innings and is coming off 3 consecutive strong starts. Considering such mediocre numbers, he should be lucky he has a major league mound to visit every fifth day.
Rounding off the rotation is newly acquired and former Marlin, Nate Robertson. The 32 year old lefty was traded to Florida in a deal that sent lefty prospect Jay Voss Detroit bound. Robertson adds experience and a much needed left handed throwing arm to a right handed dominated staff. Non-roster invitee Clay Hensley, who was headed towards obtaining the final spot in the rotation prior to the acquisition of Nate Robertson, is likely to still make the team and serve as one of the long men out of the pen.
Are the Marlins ready to overtake the Phils for the top spot in the N.L. East? Probably not after bolstering their staff with the games best pitcher, Roy Halladay, but if all parties in the rotation hold up their end of the bargain and the offense supplied by MVP candidate Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla complement them, it should make for a very exciting pennant race.
FISH ON THE MOVE: The Marlins acquired left handed starter Nate Robertson and cash considerations from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for LHP Jay Voss. The team also exercised options on RHP Rick Vandenhurk, Tim Wood, and Andrew Miller to Triple-A New Orleans. Miller was the key inclusion in the deal two years ago that shipped erratic southpaw Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera to the Detroit Tigers. Infield prospect Logan Morrison was sent for reassignment as Gabby Sanchez finally took command of the starting 1B job. Morrison is the 1B of the future but will benefit in the minors from more game time and seasoning. Scott Mclung was released trimming the opening day roster to a 12 man pitching staff.
About the Author
Written by Keith Kobler
Keith was born and raised in New York. He is a life long New York Mets fan and has felt the many highs and lows associated with that. He currently works in the Advertising Media Sales Industry and in his spare time writes comedy and free lance articles and blogs.