Playing Pepper 2015: Miami Marlins

It’s one of the annual traditions here at C70 At The Bat, our trip around the majors in blog form.  Since 2009, I’ve been asking bloggers from other teams about what’s going to happen with their squad in the coming season.  It’s always fun to see what the opposition is thinking and how optimistic some of their most devoted and intelligent fans are.  This year, the Pepper series is brought to you by Out of the Park Baseball 16, coming soon for PC.  Preorder this outstanding baseball simulation today!

Miami Marlins
77-85, fourth in the NL East

It’s got to be tough to be a Marlins fan.  History is not on your side at all and public perception always looks for the negative.  The Marlins made that big trade two offseasons ago and were immediately derided, yet they’ve bounced back quickly with a lot of the young talent they have.  They spend money to sign their big star and immediately people start wondering if he’ll be there the life of the contract.  Jeffrey Loria is…well, I’d say he’s a polarizing figure, but there’s few that don’t think the worst of him.  Even the new park doesn’t get the usual honeymoon treatment.

The Marlins look less like a doormat now than a team on the rise, even if that’s a tough paradigm to shift for many baseball fans.  Going through all of this is Ehsan, who writes at Marlin Maniac on the Fansided network.  You can follow him @Ehsan_Kassim and the blog @MarlinManiac.

C70: What are your thoughts on the team’s offseason? Did they do what they needed to do?

MM: The Marlins had a strong off-season, adding key pieces, but I don’t believe they did quite what they needed to do to become a playoff team. The biggest gaff of the off-season for me was the team overpaying to get Dee Gordon and Dan Haren. The trade did not improve the team as much as the Marlins imagined, as Gordon’s 2014 season was a fluke in my opinion. With that said, the team should be competitive, as the other moves they made this off-season did improve the club, especially Mat Latos.

C70: Do you feel this offense is now more than Giancarlo Stanton and the Pips?

MM: The offense has always been more than Giancarlo Stanton and Pips. Christian Yelich proved that early on last year and stayed hot throughout the season. Marcell Ozuna became a big surprise last season, but had a strong minor league track record. The additions of Morse and Prado balance the team’s lineup out and Gordon, while I don’t believe in his hitting ability, adds strong speed to a team that didn’t have much last season.

C70: What are the expectations for Jose Fernandez this year?

MM: I’ve tempered my expectations for Jose Fernandez. I think he’ll be back around mid-June, but will probably be on an innings restriction and won’t be able to throw too many pitches in starts to begin his season. I doubt we see a sub-3 ERA this year for Fernandez, as he works on getting back into form. The biggest victory for Jose would be coming out of the season healthy.

C70: What player do you expect to make the greatest strides this year?

MM: Christian Yelich put together a 4-win season last year for the Marlins. I’m not sure how he’ll improve over that this season, but if he can cut down his strikeouts and tap into some power, it’ll be fun to see what kind of season he can have.

C70: What’s your projection of the team’s record and where will they finish in the division?

MM: I have the Marlins as between an 83-85 win team. I think it will take 87-89 wins to win either wild card spot. Obviously 85 wins wouldn’t be in the same neighborhood as the Nats, so they finish a distant second in the NL East.

C70: What do you like best about being a Marlins fan?

MM: The young talent you get to watch. Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez, and Christian Yelich have been some great players to watch over the last decade plus as a fan.

My thanks to Ehsan for his time and his insights.  There’s no doubt there’s a lot of interesting folks to watch if you turn on a Miami game!

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