Roger Dean stadium is the Spring Training home of the Marlins. Photo Credit: RogerDeanStadium.com
Here at your South Florida Honda Dealers, we’re big fans of our hometown Miami Marlins. As the Marlins get ready for Opening Day next month, we’re excited to bring you a special Grapefruit League Spring Training scouting report on the Marlins. We’re all looking forward to a great season and we hope that the Marlins will be on their way to a reversal of fortunes and a championship pennant this year.
The Marlins return to the friendly confines of Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. One of the finest Spring Training ballparks in the country, Roger Dean Stadium is the spring home of both the Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals. The 7,000-seat facility, built in 1998, has multiple practice fields and a variety of amenities, including luxury suites.
Mattingly & Bonds Join Team
The biggest news this offseason was the arrival of baseball veteran Don Mattingly to helm the club. The former Yankees great, affectionately dubbed “Donnie Baseball,” brings a wealth of experience to the Marlins dugout. He arrives after shepherding the Dodgers to three straight NL West titles. And the Marlins also bring on the legendary Barry Bonds as their new hitting coach. Although this is Bonds’ first full-time coaching assignment, Don Mattingly has no doubts about Bonds’ ability to school younger players in the fine art of hitting.
It’s no secret that the Marlins have underperformed the past few years. The team was fragmented after the abrupt departure of manager Mike Redmond just after the start of last season. His replacement, Dan Jennings, struggled due to lack of experience, as well as having to endure a string of bad luck with injuries to key players. Mattingly is working to instill a new winning culture from day one of Marlins Spring Training.
“As long as guys give their best effort, I’m going to back them all the way,” he said as Spring Training commenced.
A Reversal of Fortune
The veteran manager hopes to reverse the Marlins’ rather dismal 71-win, 91-loss 2015 season with an infusion of talented younger players, while relying on the reliable performance of players such as Jose Fernandez and slugger Giancarlo Stanton. One of the bright spots last year was the outstanding performance of All-Star 2nd baseman Dee Gordon. His hot bat helped him capture the NL batting title and he proved his defensive worth to the team as a Gold Glove Award winner.
But a lot of the pieces will have to come together for the Marlins to continue the momentum of their strong 17-12 finish into the 2016 season. For one thing, ace pitcher Fernandez must remain healthy. Coming off Tommy John surgery, he only made 11 starts last season and the Marlins will be looking for him to be throwing heat this year. Similarly, slugger Stanton’s disappointing broken left hamate bone curtailed his promising contribution to the club.
A potential bright spot out of the bullpen is right-handed pitcher Carter Capps. Capps was one of the key impact players who the Marlins lost to injury last year. Another of the Marlins’ “wounded warriors” is outstanding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. A potential Golden Glove candidate last year, a healthy Hechavarria will certainly bolster the Marlins’ infield.
Right-handed pitcher Jarred Cosart would just like to forget the 2015 season altogether. He suffered from bouts of debilitating vertigo from an inner ear infection that sidelined him for most of the season. A healthy Cosart could add needed strength to the Marlins’ starting rotation.
Newcomers To Watch
The Marlins welcome a group of newcomers who the team hopes will come in and contribute right away:
- The marquee signing was sought-after lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who looks to bring some experience and stability to the starting rotation. The Marlins inked the 30-year old to a five-year, $80 million deal that they hope will start paying dividends quickly.
- The Marlins also brought in right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson, who’s had a stellar 12-season career. He’s won a World Series, pitched a no-hitter, and was an MLB All-Star. He looks to come out of the bullpen and hopefully advance to a starting role.
- Chris Johnson is an infielder who has the experience to back up Martin Prado at third base. However, expect to see Johnson platooning at first base or in the outfield as well.
- Right-hander Nefi Ogando, obtained on waivers from the Phillies, is a possible diamond-in-the-rough who needs some polish. He threw 63 innings last year with an ERA of 2.86 but walked 31 batters. With a strong Spring Training, we may see a lot of this promising pitcher.
A Turnaround Season
So it all comes down to this: Will a healthy Fernandez be able to go for about 180 innings this season? Will Jarred Cosart join veterans David Phelps and Edwin Jackson in long relief or in a starting role? Will the pricey acquisition of Wei-Yin Chen pay off? Will the Marlins remain relatively injury free? And can Barry Bonds’ inspired coaching inject some excitement into the Marlins’ offense?
The club’s Opening Day with the Tigers at Marlins Park April 5th is fast approaching. Let’s all hope that this could be the season that the Marlins turn things around. With a new manager, a healthy lineup, and some promising new players, it just might be.
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