Once upon a time, there was a crew. Harvard's varsity crew in 1974 and '75 was called the Rude and Smooth. There are different reasons for why they may have gotten their name, but its basically because they were tremendous assholes (even by Ivy League rowing standards - which is saying something) but also tremendous rowers. You hear stories like a rower standing up in his seat after a victory and shouting "Rise up to glory, ye Gods of Harvard!" which then led to a Yale coxswain, during the Harvard-Yale regatta, to say how far ahead they were of Harvard by exclaiming "We have one Harvard God! We have TWO Harvard Gods!" before, well, losing anyways. Halberstam's The Amateurs is one of best sports books you haven't read for a reason.
I'm going somewhere with this, I swear. There was much distress after Hanley Ramirez jogged after a ball last year, distress that lasted until Hanley put up another .300/.378/.475, so ummm, bye bye Fredi Gonzalez, who is now taking over Bobby Cox's mantle in Atlanta.
Rude and smooth defines the Marlins this year. Not just for Hanley's affrontery, but also for having the temerity to take other ballclubs' money for fielding their own damn good club. As for smooth, well, this is Florida. Break out the Malibu.
I believe that for Florida to try to make money, they're gonna need more than a new ballpark. Remember how the Tampa Bay Rays wore plaid last year? The Marlins should one-up that.
I really think this is a good idea. Play smooth rock between innings, bring back the teal, and generally try to move along the same lines as the Dolphins and the Hurricanes, have a city-wide color code, and generally somehow convince people to spend their summers in an enclosed space watching a .500 baseball team.
On to the preview...
I've already written two previews for the Marlins: 2009 and 2010. Read those to get a background on why I like the Marlins (basically: Quilvio Veras) and how poor my prognostication skills are. You will also learn interesting tidbits like, "Tony Perez was the first manager of the Marlins" and "Cy wrote off Anibal Sanchez." The Marlins were 80-82 last year, with an 81-81 pythag. As mentioned, Fredi Gonzalez was fired halfway partway through the season and replaced with Edwin Rodriguez, who seems decent enough, but looks like Shock G to me.
None on the 40-man. Don't let Michael Dunn or Young Mike Stanton (YMS) confuse you. DeWayne Wise is a non-roster invitee and our records show that he got 46 PAs for the Reds between 2006-7 before becoming a young Darnell McDonald.
As always, a bevy of young hurlers. Javier Vazquez should be a nice addition to a group that includes 4 who went over 25 starts. Health is always a question, but the answers look promising to this strength of the program. Numbers are (W-L, ERA, IP) because advanced stats are for nerds or birds, and I don't have any wings.
Josh Johnson (11-6, 2.30, 183.2): Has entered fully-fledged Workhorse status. Reminds BBRef of Rich Harden and Matt Morris, reminds me of Roy Halladay. He could be a fun one for a while, all of his surgeries are behind him. Somewhat hilariously, Google keeps on thinking of either the Buccaneers' back-up QB or, um, this guy:
Ricky Nolasco (14-9, 4.51, 157.2): I'm not sure why Sporting News has him as the #2, but he's one of the least-lucky pitchers out there in terms of ERA (3.86 FIP last year, after 3.35 FIP/5.06 in 2009) so he's due a good break. Also, was traded (with two other players!) by the Cubs for Juan Pierre. Has one less multi-homer season than Juan Pierre since 2006.
Javier Vazquez (10-10, 5.32, 157.1): If you couldn't take the crowds in the Bronx, boy, I have something to tell you about Florida! Javy's a much better pitcher than you realize. He was in many ways a victim of The Bandbox Babe Built, and also randomly decided to walk more people than ever before last year. He'll put up a good year, read all sorts of "can't stand up in the clutch of New York" in the news and respond with "I can't hear you, I have seven million dollars in my ears!"
Anibal Sanchez (13-12, 3.55, 195): Came back from what many (read: me) thought would be certain shoulder-caused doom, he still isn't an ace, and that no-hitter is less impressive after everybody but Armando Gallarago got a no-hitter last year. Looks to blossom into his "mid-rotation innings-eater" role in his age-27 season.
Chris Volstad (12-9, 4.58, 175): Steadily improving, even if he still doesn't strike out enough and gives up too many hits. He's only 24, there's plenty of room to go upwards, but he's awfully "Mike-Leake-type" for someone who goes 6'8". Also, how the hell did he not go super-2 and Bruce did?
Leo Nunez has that 3.46 ERA that you look for in a closer, but he strikes people out and will get the job done. Behind him you have the erstwhile Clay Hensley and a lot of young dudes with high K/9 ratios. Only Badenhop remains of the honkballers, but Edward Mujica brings something to the table, and Adalberto Mendez is worth mentioning. Rob Rasmussen runs 5'10" 155 lbs and gets an invite to camp despite not pitching professionally yet. Another Mike Leake Type!
Arquimedes Caminero sadly does not throw a screwball. Here's hoping he at least runs naked and screaming from the bullpen to the mound.
They'll be relying on Josh Johnson a bit more than they'd like this year unless Vazquez goes back to his 2009 form. The floor is high but I'm less confident about the ceiling than I have been in years past. Either Sanchez and/or Nolasco step up their game a notch, or the Marlins will have to hope that Johnson can dance away oppression.
Tomo Ohka All-Star:
Nobody here really has enough games against the Reds to be a true monster against them. Chris Volstad has held 'em to a tOPS+ of 81 in 2 outings I guess? Shrug?
Dan Uggla is gone, replaced by Omar Infante. Logan Morrison and the Young Mike Stanton were terrific in their call-ups, but Coghlan had a terrible sophomore campaign and Gaby Sanchez is still sticking around, just waiting to break out. They couldn't hit last year, and I don't know why anyone would expect something different this time around. Parentheses are (Avg/OBP/SLG/PAs), lineup courtesy of Sporting News.
1) 2B - Omar Infante (.321/.359/.416/506): No reason to get too excited about last year, he had a fantastic .355 BABIP. Last year was a career year by far, and though he may have Put it All Together (R) it's more likely that he just had a career year. At the very least, he's not the butcher at the pivot that Uggla was, so there's a chance he won't be too much of a drop. I'm not sure he'll be leading off by June.
2) LF - Logan Morrison (.283/.390/.447/287): While YMS was getting all of the hype, LoMo was just Flat Out Getting On Base. He's a great twitterer and a physical specimen. If he can keep up the walks, he can be something special. I'm not sure if he can field or not, and to be honest, Fish fans aren't either. But I'd put a lot of stock in him, myself. He ought to be the leadoff man.
3) SS - Hanley Ramirez (.300/.378/.475/619): Doubles power fell off a cliff, rumor is he wants to move to a homer-friendly park to make up for it. He spent the off-season brushing up on his American history, became piqued by the fascinating story of Clement Vallandingham, and expressed interest in seeing his grave site. Called up Fredi Gonzalez at the end of the season and said, "The doubles will be recovered. You won't!"
4) RF - Mike Stanton (.259/.326/.507/396): I know we should all stand agog at his power at age 20, but...man. I'm always skeptical of 5 tool players (whose main tool is power). Maybe if he gets the average up to the 270s then the OBP will be acceptable. Maybe his defense will be as solid as it showed last year. He's young, he has nothing but upside. But so do many prospects. He'll be fun to watch for the next decade, for sure, especially if he keeps hitting home runs into bullpen gloves. I'm just not sure if he'll be Franceour or Frank Howard.
5) 1B - Gaby Sanchez (.271/.341/.448/643): Hey everyone, it's the young Scott Hatteburg! He's going into his age 27 season, and he still hasn't done what everyone has expected of him. Still, he can get on base and do Professional Hitter type things. I'd slide him into the 2-spot behind LoMo, myself, but maybe he needs more "RBI opportunities" or somesuch.
6) C - John Buck (.281/.314/.489/437): Will the power stick after That Crazy Year in Toronto? He was a centerpiece of the Beltran deal way back when, and he may have figured stuff out. He's sexsalad's favorite baseball name and purportedly has "game-calling" skills. We'll see what comes of it.
7) CF - Chris Coghlan (.268/.335/.383/400): Last season I said he'd either be Dunn but with singles or Dickerson minus defense. Last year looked an awful lot like the second. And now they have him playing centerfield. This will end in disaster, and you have noone to blame but yourselves.
8) 3B - Wes Helms (?) (.220/.300/.346/254): The Marlins have a roster in flux. Take 3rd base...no, seriously! Take it! Anybody! Helms is on the wrong side of thing, Sporting News is excited about Matt Dominguez, who's never played above AA, and Greg Dobbs is in camp complaining about the outfielders' stereo being too loud. I never thought they'd miss Cantu, but it seems they will.
John Baker should backup John Buck and confuse announcers throughout the land. Osvaldo Martinez had a great 48 PAs and will be the utility infielder. Whatever poor souls can't win the third base job and Emilio "the Pope" Bonifacio will round out the weak, weak, bench.
Maybe Chris Coghlan will get his groove back and the youngun's will keep being fantastic. And then, maybe, they'll be league-average. I don't think this will happen. There will be very few times this season when the Marlins will tell the opposition to "Eat bat, prick."
Bill Hall All Star:
Greg Dobbs will probably make the team, and if he does, he'll bring his lifetime .364/.400/.618 line against the Reds for 6 games this year. Get ready to grumble.
Jim Edmonds All Star:
There's really few people to hate on this team, made up of young guns and old, sturdy, Chet Steadman* types. So we'll throw out a unique JEAS for team owner Jeffrey Loria. You'd think someone with a personal connection to Vincent Price would be tough to hate, but Loria manages. Not only does he continually lie about the state of the Marlins' finances to keep the money coming in, but he also did all he could to singlehandedly kill the Montreal Expos. Worst of all, he published a book called What's it All About Charlie Brown? Peanuts Kids look at America Today. I'm not going to do the dignity to link to it, but I will quote in full Amazon Reviewer "A Customer":
Take a 1950's era fundamentalist "hawk" a la Rush Limbaugh seeing liberals and communists in every shadow, ask him to do a semiotic dissection of a comic strip, and the results are mind-bending.
I never realised that Snoopy lying on the doghouse was actually a church, that Linus was a Christ figure, etc. holding the bastion of redneck Baptist morals high. I just thought it was a somewhat charming in a kitchy Bil Keane kind of way comic strip.
Add some anti-hippie and anti-liberal rants about how the kids play baseball and go to church like normal American kids, instead of smoking banana peels and tripping out to "Mellow Yellow", etc. and you have one of the most inadvertently hysterical books I've ever read.
Well done, Mr. Loria. You outdated ass.
*= I had no idea until now, but in Rookie of the Year, Chet Steadman was played by Gary Busey. I know, I know, we should all hate the Cubs. But that's harder to do when you see a strung-out horse in Cubbie stripes.
The bats are mostly gone and the pitching isn't enough to overcome. There are a lot of question marks in this team and not enough of a ceiling to overcome the flaws. Unless Morrison and Stanton become the next Musial and Slaughter, it won't be enough. Bold Prediction: 75-87
Which Christian Bale Movie Does This Team Remind Me Of?
A Murder of Quality, an alright-enough Masterpiece Theatre TV flick from 1991. It stars Denholm Elliot as
Marcus Brody George Smiley dealing not with spies but with a murder in the English countryside. Everyone's giving their best, and le Carre is doing the screenplay himself, but there just isn't enough there to turn it into anything memorable. Christian Bale is Tim Perkins. Far too young to be dealing with the sort of mess he's in, young Perkins is bullied by the rest of the characters and made to deal with more than he bargained for. Will he be able to become the proper gentleman the world expects of him? Or will he crumble and dissipate under the pressure. Also, Christian Bale can add "violinist" to his list of accomplishments.