Every year since 2009, I’ve spent some time before the season starts trying to find out what fanbases are thinking about their team. It’s so easy to get myopic, especially with Twitter, so it’s a good chance for us (and by us, I mean me) to take a step back and remember there are 29 other Major League Baseball teams. We’ve got current bloggers, former bloggers that indulge me still, and this year a few media folks chiming in as well. Get out the bat, ball, and glove: it’s time once again to play some pepper.
So you might be saying, “Hey, I thought we did the Marlins yesterday?” We did and had some great answers from some great folks. However, Cardinal fans have come to expect one thing when it comes to any Marlins-related news.
The SiriusXM host (@CraigMish) became a Cardinals Twitter darling in the 2017-2018 offseason, reporting on the Giancarlo Stanton to St. Louis possibilities as well as the Marcell Ozuna trade. Since then, Craig has been seen not only occasionally popping into Prospects After Dark but also with Tara Wellman as part of her Winter Wonderland series. Tara was kind enough to connect me with Mr. Mish and, though his jam-packed schedule got away from him and he wasn’t able to hit yesterday’s post deadline, he wanted to contribute anyway and I am certainly not going to do turn that down. So, without further ado, let’s play some pepper.
C70: What are your thoughts on the offseason? What was good, what was bad, what else should they have done?
Craig: The Marlins made very few moves this offseason, with the anticipation of continuing to build through the young players in the organization in 2019. Miami hopes both Monte’ Harrison and Isan Diaz will be major league ready this summer, and therefore adding long term pieces wasn’t in the equation. The Marlins did add Sergio Romo to solidify the bullpen, and veterans Neil Walker along with Curtis Granderson to stabilize the lineup. Miami’s offense will likely rank near the bottom in production and the end of the season, but they real key to the development of the organization is built around a young core of Starters that they covet.
C70: What are your thoughts on the new uniforms and the removal of the home run monument?
Craig: The uniforms are not just a new start for the organization, but also a definitive farewell to anything and everything that had to do with old ownership. The club had so many losing seasons and disappointments to count on one hand and the new owners led by Bruce Sherman and CEO Derek Jeter inevitably decided out with the old and in with the new. Therefore, the Home Run Statue had to go as well. Personally, I think the new uniforms look sharp, especially in teal which is an ode to the Florida Marlins moniker, prior to the move into the new stadium in Little Havana.
C70: Sandy Alcantara had a strong September. What do you think he can do for the Marlins this year?
Craig: Alcantara will open up in the team’s rotation. He has a plus fastball, but harnessing the rest of his arsenal remains a concern. There is no question he has all the tools to be a major league pitcher but throwing 100 pitches before the 6th inning is unsustainable. He’ll be on a close watch, but has an extremely high ceiling, perhaps as a big league number 2 starter.
C70: What is your general outlook for 2019? Where will they finish in the division?
Craig: The Marlins are likely to lose 100 games and finish at the bottom of the division. This is a team still in “build” mode and we have heard the term expansion franchise used when describing the last year or so with the club. Their goal is to spend money on the international market and develop the farm system. That’s not the recipe for a competitive team in 2019, so expectations are low as expected.
C70: What’s the biggest question for this team going into the season and what’s the answer to it?
Craig: The Marlins offense is going to need a surprise or two stay competitive in games where the pitching fails them. Their most polished hitter is Starlin Castro, but at this stage of his career he is no more than an above average player. Third Baseman Brian Anderson is solid and steady. Beyond that there are more questions than answers. Miami believed Jorge Alfaro could provide some pop behind the plate but he’s been injured all spring. Right Fielder Peter O’Brien has massive power but has yet to show he can hit at the big league level. Perhaps Lewis Brinson will take the next step in his development, but for now that is a question as well.
C70: What do you expect will give you the most joy watching this team on a regular basis this season?
Craig: The Marlins will likely be more competitive in 2020, because it’s very tough to sell a fanbase on multiple seasons of 90-100 losses, but the real fruits of their labor will be 2021 when the young kids drafted in 2018 and 2019 are developed and ready. At that time the team will also be free of multiple contracts such as Wei Yin Chen (2021) and Martin Prado (2020) so at that time fans will expect them to reach into their pockets and spend some. So for now, the hope is the ball park experience in Miami can entertain fans if the product is sub par. They are banking on that.
Really appreciate Craig taking the time he probably didn’t have to get us some Marlins info!