The Marlins must think they are the new Yankees: spending freely, garnering attention, and shaping up to be all talk and no play. Hopefully, this is not the case, and their performance on the field will reflect the hype of the offseason. It is true that the Marlins have been spending freely and getting more public attention than Prince Fielder at a buffet, but right now the Marlins don’t currently own the money they are promising to players.
In the last week, the Fish have dished out contracts to three different free agents totaling 13 years and $191 million. Jeffrey Loria courted both Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle in Miami, showing off the wondrous city (that I haven’t yet visited) and the glistening new ballpark, with which he is banking on paying said players. But there’s one slight issue for the time being, the revenue that will *inevitably* come from the new park is not yet here. Despite the fact that very few South Florida residents made the effort to see Florida Marlins games, the team did consistently have one of the highest TV ratings in Major League Baseball. So there are fans interested in Marlins baseball, but they’ll have to show up in person next year or else the Marlins might not have another offseason this busy again. But for now, only the Angels made a comparable splash to the Marlins’ during the winter meetings in Dallas this week, signing C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols for themselves.
The latest of the Marlins free agent signings occurred on Wednesday when Mark Buehrle agreed to a four-year, $56 million contract. On Tuesday, the Marlins offered a $200 million contract to Albert Pujols, and executed the next move perfectly. As I alluded to in my last post, it was imperative that the Marlins sign or walk away from Pujols quickly so that they would not miss out on pitching, which they needed even more than the three-time MVP. Miami set a deadline for Pujols to sign sometime Wednesday, and were perfectly fine walking away from him when he didn’t agree to the deal in time.
Quickly, the Marlins turned around and signed Beuhrle to add depth and star power to their starting pitching rotation, which already features an All-Star in Josh Johnson. As of right now, the 2012 starting rotation looks like this:
1) Josh Johnson: Even after the signing of Buehrle, Jeffrey Loria stated that as long as JJ is healthy, he will be the Opening Day starter for Miami. Johnson made the National League All-Star team in 2009 and 2010, and led the league in ERA until May of this year when he was sidelined for the remainder of the year due to a shoulder injury.
2) Mark Buehrle: With a fresh contract, Beuhrle’s star power will complement JJ’s talent nicely, making Miami’s rotation as dynamic as that of the Phillies or Braves. Beuhrle is most famous for his 2009 perfsect game.
3) Anibal Sanchez: Sanchez has a no-hitter on his own resumé, a 2006 blanking of the D’Backs. He almost accomplished the same feat against the Rockies earlier this year when he was able to complete his third career complete-game shutout. Sanchez’s fastball averages in the high 90s and can even blaze into triple digits.
4) Ricky Nolasco: The three and four slots can be flip-flopped, but Sanchez’s impressive 2011 campaign lands Nolasco at number four. Ricky has been with the Marlins since 2006, and has been a top starter since ’08.
5) Chris Volstad: For now, Volstad possesses the number five slot due to his big league experience. The lanky, 6’8″ righty has had control problems, but showcases a hard fastball mixed with good off-speed stuff. But he better watch out because Miami has some quality younger talent ready to jump into the rotation.
Among potential sixth starters, or rotation-ready sleepers are Sean West, Alex Sanabia, Brad Hand, and Wade LeBlanc, all of whom have big-league experience.
Also worth noting: Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly Leo Nuñez) will not face charges for false identity in his native Dominican Republic. It is uncertain whether he will return to baseball next season.
With newly-attained credibility in the form of extreme spending on three big-name free agents, the Miami Marlins are prepared to gloriously enter their glistening new ballpark in April with a revamped starting lineup and pitching staff.