Acquired: Omar Infante, John Buck, Michael Dunn, Javier Javquez.
Lost: C Ronny Paulino, 1B/3B Chad Tracy, 2B Dan Uggla, CF Cameron Maybin, RHP Jose Veras, LHP Andrew Miller, LHP Will Ohman.
CF Chris Coghlan
2B Omar Infante
SS Hanley Ramirez
RF Mike Stanton
1B Gaby Sanchez
LF Logan Morrison
C John Buck
3B Donnie Murphy
RHP Josh Johnson
RHP Ricky Nolasco
RHP Javier Vazquez
RHP Anibal Sanchez
RHP Chris Volstad
CL RHP Leo Nunez
This winter, the Fish traded one year of Dan Uggla for one year of utility player Omar Infante and reliever Michael Dunn, who racked up strikeouts in the minor leagues but could stand to lower his walk rate. It wasn’t a huge return, but Infante should be a serviceable second baseman in 2011 and could shift to almost any other position on the diamond should the need arise. The Marlins also signed Javier Vazquez, who is only one year removed from a dominant season with the Braves. In 2010, Vazquez struggled mightily with the Yankees, but the Marlins are betting he’ll return to form in Florida, which has a more pitcher-friendly stadium and fewer fans (so if he stinks, the booing won’t be as loud). The Vazquez acquisition made a ton of sense, since the pitcher clearly wanted to pitch in Florida, though at $7 million he came a little more expensive then I would have predicted.
Speaking of money, the Fish signed catcher John Buck to a three-year, $18 million deal. Unless Florida knows something the rest of us don’t, this was a massive overpay for a mediocre catcher nobody thinks will show the same power he did in 2010 when he hit 20 bombs in homer-happy Toronto. Then again, Buck did start the season by hitting a game-winning grand slam. So far so good.
One thing the Marlins didn’t do this winter was find a third baseman, so they’ll go with career journeyman Donnie Murphy, who is frequently called things like “scrappy” — and that’s never a good sign. ZIPS is projecting Murphy for .227/.282/.429. The good news: prospect Matt Dominguez is on the way and while his bat reportedly could use some work, he’s quickly developing a reputation as an elite defender.
Ultimately the success of the Marlins will depend on the performances of Vazquez and rookie outfielders Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison. If those guys live up to expectations, this team, which finished two games under .500 in 2010, could make the playoffs. Winning an extra 10 games in 2011 won’t be easy, but the Phillies and Braves are loaded with question marks (will Chase Utley ever play again? Can Chipper Jones play 100 games? Is Freddie Freeman ready for the big leagues? Can Jimmy Rollins stay healthy?).
Despite a spotty offseason, I think the Fish have a real chance to surprise some people. If they find themselves in contention come July, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the team trade for a third baseman on the cusp of free agency. Somebody like Aramis Ramirez could make sense. Or the Fish could trade for a second baseman (Kelly Johnson?) and shift Infante to third. Don’t sleep on this team.