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Miami Marlins: New Year, New Team

Miami Marlins: New Year, New Team Image via Sportsgraphics36


Miami Marlins

The Miami Marlins entered the 2016 season with optimistic expectations led by new skipper Don Mattingly and hitting coach Barry Bonds. The Marlins felt that they needed to make a splash, no pun intended, when they were looking for a new manager. It didn’t take long for them to find their man. Expectations were lofty, due in part to the roster that had a mix of veteran leadership and youthful exuberance. Veteran outfielder and eventual Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki returned to form after a down 2015 season. Suzuki hit .291 in 143 games and registered his 3,000th career hit against the Colorado Rockies. All-star slugger Giancarlo Stanton hit .240 with 27 home runs and 74 RBI’s. Second baseman Dee Gordon appeared in 79 games after serving an 80 game suspension for P.E.D. use. However, a season of hope would turn into a season of heartbreak and tragedy on one fateful September morning when Jose Fernandez would lose his life in a tragic boating accident. Fernandez was the heart and soul of the Marlins and an ambassador of the game for fellow Cuban citizens. He was one of the games most dominant pitchers with overpowering stuff that at times proved to be impossible to hit. The Marlins would go on to finish the season with a 79-82 record, putting them in third place behind the Division Champion Washington Nationals and Wild Card qualifying New York Mets.  

Off-Season Moves:

The Miami Marlins added catching depth when they agreed to contract terms with free agent A.J. Ellis. Ellis appeared in 64 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies hitting .216 with two home runs and 22 RBI’s. Ellis will likely serve as the backup to J.T. Realmuto.

Also grabbing headlines were the signings of veteran starting pitcher Jeff Locke and veteran reliever Brad Ziegler. Locke went 9-8 for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2016 campaign, while Ziegler compiled a 4-7 record with 22 saves while splitting time with the Boston Red Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Miami also signed starting pitcher Edinson Volquez to a two-year deal worth $22 million. Volquez spent the 2016 season with the Kansas City Royals. He amassed a 10-11 record with 139 strikeouts in 189.1 innings pitched. While the winter meetings were a treasure trove of off-season acquisitions, the Marlins have remained relatively quiet on the waiver wires and free agent signings. Is this a sign that management believes they have enough talent in place to win?

Expectations For 2017:

While finishing below .500 in the 2016 season was a let down, this team is loaded with offensive talent. Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour are the big bats in the line-up, and Bour is coming off a less than impressive season which included a visit to the 60-day disabled list. Dee Gordon is the lightning on the base paths and Christian Yelich is looking to improve from a stellar 2016 season which saw him hit .298 with 21 home runs while collecting a Silver Slugger award. Offensively, if the Marlins can stay healthy, they will be more than formidable in the NL East division. It’s a stretch to say they will contend for a division title, but a Wild Card spot isn’t out of the question. The one area that needs upgrading is the starting rotation. Losing Fernandez hurt this team on a multitude of levels. While the off-season isn’t over yet, look for the Marlins to make a move to acquire starting pitcher depth. Jason Hammel would be a nice fit in Miami. Hammel will give you plenty of innings and allow you to rest your bullpen. His stuff isn’t overpowering, but he’s a crafty veteran who had a great season with the Chicago Cubs, while being buried in the starting rotation by the likes of Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, to name a few.


While the road to the National League East title will likely go through Washington, the Miami Marlins have a chance to be competitive in the division if they can acquire pitching depth. Offensively, this team is talented and has the hitters to make things interesting down the stretch, but only if the pitching performance can keep hitters like Bryce Harper and Freddie Freemen in check. This team will go as far as their pitching will take them. Marlins fans only hope that there management knows something they don’t.