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Know your enemy: Miami Marlins

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Pay close attention — there are a lot of new guys here! And a spiffy new logo!

Quick.

Apart from Starlin Castro, name anyone who will be in the Marlins starting lineup this year.

Congratulations if you remembered that Curtis Granderson signed with the Marlins; hardly anyone will notice and almost certainly not in Miami, where the Marlins’ total announced attendance for 2018 was 811,104. That’s the smallest for any team since the 2004 Montreal Expos, who played 22 “home” games in a 20,000-seat stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

But the rest of the starting Marlins? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Marlins, under new ownership led by former Yankees star Derek Jeter, have systematically dismantled a team that just two years ago included Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, J.T. Realmuto and Christian Yelich. That ballclub briefly contended for a wild-card spot that year before fading. Now, they have a couple of veterans (Castro and Granderson), a handful of guys from their system and a bunch of people they acquired in the trades for the stars mentioned above.

Last week, Jeter was quoted as saying he has “zero patience”:

“Patience is something that you have to learn,” Jeter said. “But I’m fine with not being patient. It’s like I say: When you’re at the major-league level, you’re here for a reason, because these players have been better than most other players in this country and in other countries as well. And if you’re here, you have an opportunity to win. I can’t preach that enough.”

Well, Jeter’s team had guys who could have helped give them “an opportunity to win.” And his baseball people traded them. All of them. It’s surprising they didn’t trade Castro. Castro, Wei-Yin Chen and Martin Prado are the only Marlins who will make more than $5 million this year, and per Spotrac the vast majority of the roster will likely make the minimum salary. Chen, who was 6-12 with a 4.79 ERA, 1.335 WHIP and negative bWAR in 2018, will be paid $20 million this year. Yikes.

Of course, salary’s not necessarily the determining factor. The Marlins do have some decent young players, particularly Jorge Alfaro, the catcher they acquired from the Phillies as part of the Realmuto deal.

But their rotation and bullpen both have quite a few inexperienced hurlers and/or mediocre veterans. Last year their pitchers allowed 809 runs, second-most in the National League, and I can’t imagine that figure getting better in 2019, nor will this offense score more runs than the league-worst 589 scored by the 2018 edition.

That 2018 Marlins team lost 98 games. They’re in a tough division. It would not surprise me if they lost 110 games. Jeter’s not patient? Can’t wait to hear what he has to say when his team is, say, 20-61 at the midway point of the season.

By then, incidentally, the Cubs will be long done with the Marlins for 2019. They visit Miami April 15-16-17 and two weeks later, will host the Marlins at Wrigley, May 6-7-8-9, and that’ll be it for Cubs/Marlins games until 2020. (Hint: It’s not likely the Marlins will be any better then, either.)

But there’s that spiffy new logo and team colors. You can bet they’ll try to sell a lot of stuff with that logo on it.