OVER 86 WINS FOR THE FLORIDA MARLINS
Remember, the Florida Marlins are just two years removed from beating the NY Yankees in the 2003 World Series. Many people forget about that. In 2003 this team won 91 games in route to their World Championship. A year ago, they won 83 games and have they have definitely upgraded their offense from 2004 adding Carlos Delgado. This is truly one of the best teams in baseball this season. If their starting rotation stays healthy it will be one of the best, if not the best, in baseball. #1 starter Josh Beckett can be truly dominating. He has a career ERA of just 3.49 and he has struck out 441 batters in just 430 innings. #2 starter will be A.J. Burnett. He has already been clocked at 98 MPH during one of his spring training starts. His lifetime ERA is 3.83 and has 555 career K’s. The third starter is Dontrelle Willis. The crafty left hander already has a record of 24-17 in his two seasons. His lifetime ERA is 3.70. Willis would be the #1 starter on a number of Major League teams. The fourth starter will be veteran Al Leiter. He came over from the NY Mets after compiling a 10-8 record with a 3.21 ERA in 2004. Leiter, who pitched for Florida when the Marlins won their first World Series back in 1997, has now had five consecutive seasons with an ERA below 4.00. Not bad for a fourth starter! Whenever they need a 5th starter, that man will most likely be Ismael Valdez. He is a serviceable starter or long range bullpen guy. Anyway, to have FOUR starters with career ERA’s under 4.00 is pretty impressive. The bullpen, which some think could be a problem, isn’t as bad as people think. In fact, the Marlins added four veterans that could really solidify their relief. Antonio Alfonseca had a 2.57 ERA with Atlanta last year. Todd Jones comes over from the Phillies with a career ERA of 4.00. Jim Mecir was with Oakland last season and has pitched 483 innings in his career with an ERA of 3.83. John Riedling can also eat up some innings as he has with the Reds the past 5 seasons. The closer will be Guillermo Mota who came to the Marlins from the Dodgers in a trade last year. Mota has always been a set up man, however he has the make up of a closer and those close to the organization think he will be very good.
Now onto the offense. We think Florida has a VERY nice mix of offensive talent. The addition of one of the top power hitters in the game, Carlos Delgado, will really help. Delgado, who comes over from the Blue Jays, has had eight straight years of 30+ home runs. He has also had 100+ RBI in six of those eight seasons with the other two being 91 and 99. He will look very good in the middle of the line up surrounded by Miguel Cabrera (33 HR’s and 112 RBI last season), Mike Lowell (520 career RBI) and Paul LoDuca. At the top of the line up, Florida has some serious speed with Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo. Pierre, who is the leadoff hitter who hits 312 for his career, has a whopping 110 stolen bases in his two years with the Fish. Castillo bats second and has a career average of close to .300 and has stolen an average of 39 bases per season over the last 6 years. The offense should absolutely average more than the 4.4 RPG they put up in 2004. The key to this selection, will be the health of the starting rotation. Burnett has had some injury problems in the past which is a concern. However, if they do stay relatively healthy, this team will be VERY good. ASA’s projected total for the Florida Marlins is 91 wins which puts them OVER the posted number.