Strengths: The Marlins have some of baseball’s elite young big league talent, starting with Jose Fernandez, who figures to be a part of the Cy Young conversation for the next decade plus. Christian Yelich makes a nice outfield bookend to Giancarlo Stanton, assuming the latter isn’t traded in the very near future. Adeiny Hechvarria is interesting at shortstop too, and their farm system is considered to be pretty flush with legitimate prospects. To be filed under “Intriguing,” Marcell Ozuna showed flashes before fading in 2013 and pitcher Henderson Alvarez fired a no-hitter at the end of the season.
Weaknesses: Ownership and front office. Jeffrey Loria is a joke of an owner, if not a criminal for the way he swindled the people of Miami. He’s every bit as much of a joke for the way he undermined manager Mike Redmond when he essentially forced the manager to change his decision on who was to start the first game of a double header between the rookie, Fernandez, and veteran Ricky Nolasco. The fear I would have if I were a Marlins fan is that even if most of the top prospects currently in the system turn out to be good players, no free agent of any note will ever want to come to Miami. Just look at the way Loria is notorious for blowing up rosters. Also, just ask Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle what they think of him. But I digress, he’s not the one who plays. So, apart from Steve Cishek, the bullpen is a mess. So is the rotation beyond Fernandez and Alvarez. And if you can’t get people out, you aren’t going to win many games.
Off-Season Needs: There are really too many to list, but with a team featuring so many young players, veteran leadership must be a priority. Logan Morrison, while entertaining on Twitter and affable otherwise, is probably not the guy to depend on for that. The Red Sox just won a World Series on the strength of character acquisitions like Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli. The Marlins are nowhere near a World Series, but picking up a couple of poor man’s versions of Victorino and Napoli to help show the young guys the proper way to play and respect the game will be valuable to their development. You know, so the front office can still trade them for a bag of batting practice balls and two cans of Skoal once they’re stars.
2014 Outlook: Ummmm, poor. Some of the young guys may start to develop and you may see a slight uptick in the win column, but triple digit losses are once again a very real possibility.