Hope for the Hopeless: Miami Marlins

This is the second edition of Hope for the Hopeless, where we will take a look at the first ten teams in the league eliminated from playoff contention, and examine what their fans can be optimistic about after a disappointing 2013 season. Next up: the Miami Marlins

It's fun to kick a team while they're down, especially when that team has one of the most reviled owners in all of sports. The Marlins have an owner that no one likes and a business plan implemented by said owner that really makes no sense on the field, but believe it or not, they're not a total disaster.

in the major leagues, the Marlins have one of the most electrifying young hitters in baseball in Giancarlo Stanton. But with Stanton heading into his first arbitration year following the 2013 season, he might be dealt. That presents another opportunity for the Marlins to clean up with a bounty of prospects, much like they did a decade ago when trading Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers (even though those prospects didn't exactly work out in the long run).

If Stanton doesn't get dealt, the Marlins actually have surrounded him with some decent enough young talent, including 21-year old Christian Yelich. With those two in the outfield, the Marlins have a solid foundation to build upon, even if their infield has been disappointing this year. Throw in very raw 22-year old Jake Marisnick, who probably should start 2014 in AAA instead of in Miami's outfield, and there's definitely potential for future success.

But where Miami really shines is on the mound, where they're loaded with young talent. Jose Fernandez is the front runner for the NL Rookie of the Year award, striking out nearly ten batters per nine as a 21-year old in the majors. Henderson Alvarez and Jacob Turner are holding their own. Nate Eovaldi has flashed ace potential after coming over from the Dodgers last summer in the Hanley Ramirez trade. On the farm, Brian Flynn had a breakout 2013 and makes his major league debut on Wednesday. Anthony DeSclafani has been insanely good in his first year in the Marlins organization. Justin Nicolino is moving quickly. and Andrew Heaney is moving even quicker in his first full pro season. 

As always though, when it comes to the Marlins, the erratic nature of their front office seems to take precedence over everything happening on the field. When you read stories about Jeffrey Loria overruling middling personnel moves in the organization, you have to wonder about the long-term viability of the franchise. Everything in Miami ends up coming down to the almighty dollar, and that severely impacts a fan's ability to enjoy the club. There are a total of two pitchers that started multiple games for the Marlins in 2011 that are still with the organization (Brad Hand and Alex Sanabia). Just five of the 15 players to tally at least 100 plate appearances with the 2011 Marlins are still with the organization, and Stanton is the only one of those five to receive at least 300 plate appearances in 2013.

The winds of change will continue to swirl in Miami, and despite the organization being loaded with talent, there's this sinking feeling among fans that the talent will simply be shuttled off to their next home once they get too pricey. So while there's hope in Miami, it's fleeting.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.

Hope for the Hopeless: Miami Marlins

In our Hope for the Hopeless series, we take a look at all of the teams in the league that finished under .500, and examine what their fans can be optimistic about after a disappointing 2012 season.

After the Marlins crazy spending binge this offseason, they were a chic pick to win the NL East. Of course, that didn't happen. The trades of Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez riled up fans across the country, claiming that the Marlins suckered their fans in yet again and sold off assets just to make a quick buck. I don't think that description is very apt however, and I actually think the Marlins are in better shape going into 2013 than they were going into 2012. Let me explain.

Sanchez, who was dealt to the Tigers, is going to hit free agency at the end of this season, and as one of the top pitchers on the market, will likely command a hefty contract. I don't think the Marlins wanted to get into a bidding war for (essentially) their third starter, so they sold high (along with Omar Infante, a free agent after next season) and acquired the potential-laden Jacob Turner and a guy who might be a franchise catcher in Rob Brantly…all for a guy who would be leaving town in three months. That was a pretty smart move in my mind.

The Ramirez trade netted the Marlins a guy who profiles as a number two starter in Nate Eovaldi. Ramirez had worn out his welcome in Miami, and his stats were falling across the board over the last two seasons while he dealt with injuries. And hell, it gave the Marlins a little bit of payroll flexibility after last offseason's spending spree.

The 2013 Marlins are going to be a lot like the 2012 team was in the second half, minus impending free agents Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Lee, and Juan Carlos Oviedo (Leo Nunez, who hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors this year). I think Heath Bell and Mark Buerhle will have better second seasons in Miami. Giancarlo Stanton is one of the best young hitters in the league, and he's the franchise guy to build around (along with the veteran Jose Reyes) as opposed to the moody, inconsistent Ramirez. The starting rotation will have two talented career Marlins in Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco, along with the veteran Buerhle and youngsters Eovaldi and Turner (in my mind). Miami's younger talent (most notably Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, and Jose Fernandez) are still a year or two away from the majors, and when they're ready, this team will really be ready to rock and roll. 2013 will likely be a step up for the Marlins, while 2014 could be a Washington-esque leap to the top of the NL East.

While the Marlins did spend a lot during last offseason, the only "bad" contract in my mind is the Bell deal, which is at least over in two years. None of those contracts are on par with the Ryan Howard extension, the Jayson Werth signing, the Vernon Wells disaster, or the Alex Rodriguez overpay. Contracts like the ones possessed by Bell, Reyes, and Buerhle can at least be moved if the team is really feeling froggy. Miami is in a solid spot for 2013, and while the 2012 season is likely going to cost Larry Beinfest his job, it's not totally his fault. I really like what Miami's future holds in the long-term.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.