Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why are the Marlins better?

You know what I get a kick out of? I get a kick out of the notion that every time I hear about how terrible the Mets are, they point to the last two seasons performance and say how the team isn't any better, so it cannot perform better. Then I hear about how other teams who had problems they year before or so will be able to rise above those issues.

I'll be more specific for one in particular. Mainly... why are the Marlins considered a team that can contend in 2012?

I mean, I know why people will say. But I don't understand WHY.

Last year the Marlins finished behind the Mets. The last two years the Mets were not able to contend in the second half of the season. The last two years the Mets HAD Jose Reyes.

So, why are the Marlins suddenly a possible powerhouse because they added Jose Reyes?

Yeah, I know they added Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle... But while those are good players, how much better do they really make the Marlins?

2011 Closer Leo Nunez had 33 saves this past season (and 89 total since 2009). He wasn't flashy and he wasn't great, but he wasn't bad either. There has been rumblings about Bell not fairing as well pitching outside of San Diego. Bell experienced a drop in performance in 2011, and that drop, while certainly not encouraging, may not be a real cause for concern going forward for the Marlins... but even if he takes only a slight step downwards, he's still not a ton better. He's likely more consistant and dependable, but it's not like they had garbage there before. The upswing isn't dramatic.

Buehrle is basically going to replace Javy Vazquez, who may have been terrible in his first seven to eight starts of the season, but was fairly lights out the rest of the way with a 2.70 ERA in 153.1 innings. Is Buehrle really going to be much better than that? As with Bell, he's a very good player but he's not a big improvement over what they had before. He's averaged about 13 wins and an ERA about 4.05 the last few years. Yes, he should fare better in the NL than he did in the AL... but again... by much much better is he going to be than what they had in Vazquez for most of 2011?

The big thing with The Marlins is going to be the return of Josh Johnson, and the expectation (which is a fair expectation to have) that Hanley Rameriez will return to his normal self after a disasterous 2011 Season.

To me, the Marlins 2012 success relies heavily upon Johnson. If he comes back and is the same, the Marlins have an arm that can match up with the best in the MLB. Johnson is lights out and is on par with names like Halliday, Lee, Lincecum, Sabathia and Lester. If he's not the samee... say he's at like 75% of what he was, he'll still likely be better than a large chunk of other pitchers, which would still improve the Marlins from 2011. If he cannot pitch to anything close to his regular form or if he's unable to return at all or only makes like 10-12 starts for the season, it's going to hurt them. A lot.

Which brings us back to Reyes.

In 2010 the Marlins finished 80-82. At the time they had a great season from John Johnson and Hanley Rameriz and still had all-star second baseman Dan Uggla who hit .287 with 33 HRs and 105 RBI.

I know Reyes is a different player than Uggla... but the Marlins couldn't even finish at .500 that year.

In both 2010 AND 2011, the Mets were picked as a team who would not really be in contention. Yet, both years they had Reyes... and David Wright... and Jason Bay... and Johan Santana... and Carlos Beltran... and K-Rod...

See where I'm going here?

So.. I put the question again... why just by adding the three players they did, suddenly make a team that has finished below .500 the last two years suddenly a team that is expected to contend?

Cause I don't see it. In fact, I'll go one further...

The Marlins... with their question marks... and the brittle Reyes as their centerpiece (fair is fair... I had to listen ever year how the Mets couldn't fully expect Reyes to go the whole season without a DL trip or two) are NOT a team you can say is fully better than the Mets.

(And no, I have NOT forgotten about Carlos Zambrano. I don't think that was a good move for them and do not expect a lot from him.)

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