Baseballistic
All Things Baseball

The Fish Are Biting

 

Hanley Ramirez is just one of seven promising Marlins rookies

Not much was expected of the Florida Marlins entering this season, because the front office basically had a garage sale where each player was available for about a dollar.  The shoppers that stopped by for that fire sale were the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and Minnesota Twins.  The Red Sox added Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota (later traded to Cleveland), the Yankees acquired Ron Villone, the Cubs landed Juan Pierre, and the Twins got Luis Castillo.  The Marlins also let AJ Burnett, Juan Encarnacion, and Alex Gonzalez walk away as free agents, completing their housecleaning.  Manager Joe Girardi’s team was left for dead, because no one expected the “punch-less” Marlins to compete in the usually tough NL East or for the NL Wildcard. 

The one big hitter left in the Marlins lineup in April was Miguel Cabrera, or so it would seem.  Rookies like Dan Uggla (2B), Josh Willingham (C/LF), Hanley Ramirez (SS), Mike Jacobs (1B), and Jeremy Hermida (RF) because the major contributors to the Florida offense, and surprisingly, they’ve done a solid job.  Almost all of the players I just mentioned are legitimate candidates for the NL Rookie of the Year award, with Jeremy Hermida being the lone exception due to limited playing time at the major league level.  The “kids” have definitely impressed Marlins fans, and have made them forget about former fan-favorites like Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. 

But hitting isn’t where the cream of the Marlins’ crop lies.  Through the trades and their own farm system, the Marlins brought four terrific rookies into their starting rotation over the course of this season.  The four are Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen, Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez.  Johnson is the MLB-leader in ERA (2.87), Olsen has had spectacular outings and has 10 wins, Nolasco has been brilliant at times earning 11 wins of his own, and Sanchez has possibly the best “stuff” of the four.  You may have noticed that the one Marlins’ starter I haven’t mentioned yet is Dontrelle Willis, and that’s because D-Train has been outpitched by the rookies.  Three of those four rookies are also Rookie of the Year contenders, with Sanchez being the exception, because he has fewer starts (and therefore fewer wins). 

Who needs veteran sluggers when you have seven Rookie of the Year contenders on the same team?  Since starting the season 11-31, the Marlins have gone 53-35 in their next 88 games — the best record in the MLB during that stretch.  They have also won eight consecutive games (the longest current streak in baseball), and the Fish are just 2.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Wildcard race. 

Wouldn’t it be surprising if the fire sale actually made the Marlins better?  If the Fish make the playoffs the front office and Manager Joe Girardi will look very good, but the “kids” deserve all the credit.   

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