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Marlins add small pieces, still have tough competition in NL East.

When asked a day before the All-Star break if any significant trades would be made, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest was quick to say "We will do what it takes to improve this team". Time passes, and the only move the Marlins made was trading for lefty Will Ohmen. The Fish fell short of the playoffs for yet another season, only this time they were two games under .500. At the season's end, this question was brought up again, only this time it was directed towards owner Jeffery Loria. Loria's response was simply low key. "We will only make moves that make sense, not for the sake of just making a trade. This front office will do what is right for the team".

The first step in the offseason was to find a manager, and the decision to retain Edwin Rodriguez and his staff came about two and a half weeks into the offseason. Rodriguez was the first to present all of his clubs' troubles to the front office, and after keeping his staff in line with the addition of Perry Hill, the offseason was underway.

Rumors made there way through the air, and the first noteable move made by the Marlins was trading CF Cameron Maybin to the Padres for relievers Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica. This move made sense to most, mainly because Maybin has not yet proven himself at the big league level, and the bullpen was the weakest part of the 2010 squad. This trade and trading Andrew Miller to the Red Sox for Dustin Richardson was only the beginning of what was to come.

Time passed, and around mid-November the Marlins decided to sign catcher John Buck. Buck is a veteran who plays great defense and can provide a nice presence in the lineup, while being a leader who can hold a young pitching staff, such as that of the Marlins, in tact. Buck was one of the most impressive free agent pickups in years. Some more time went by, until the Fish decided to reach out to free agent right hander Javier Vazquez. Vazquez pitched unsuccessfully for the Yankees in 2010, and he was looking to come back to the NL. Vazquez was familiar with the ownership, and doesn't live far from manager Edwin Rodriguez, so the Fish took advantage of what they could get, and signed Vazquez to a one year deal. This would boost a rotation already featuring Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, and Chris Volstad.

The bullpen was the main focus point set for the offseason, and the Marlins were not yet done. In a trade at the Winter Meetings that left most fans unpleased, the Marlins sent Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves for lefty Mike Dunn and 2B Omar Infante. Defense was another area the Marlins wanted to improve in, and Infante is a good contact hitter and an above average defender. Most thought that this was likely the last move the Fish would make, but indeed it wasn't. The Marlins made it clear they wanted to sign another lefty, and so they did. Randy Choate was given a rare multi-year deal by the Fish, and he happily accepted. The most recent move the Marlins made was locking up Ricky Nolasco, making sure he would be a Marlin at least for the next three years.

While the lengthy offseason drags on, it is obvious that the NL East will again be one of the toughest divisions in baseball. The Phillies recently aquired Cliff Lee, again, which could easily make them the Miami Heat of baseball. Their rotation, now featuring Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and what will likely be either Joe Blanton or another player from their system, will be dominant. That rotation now consists of four starters that could easily have (or have had) sub 3.00 ERAs in their careers. The Braves will be coming back hungry as ever, after getting Dan Uggla, having an impressive bullpen, and having a lineup full of great contact hitters such as Martin Prado and Brian McCann. The New York Mets could be considered the Marlins' rival team, and they always play the Fish hard. With Luis Castillo, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, Ike Davis, all great defenders, and what will likely be a bullpen full of no name successful pitchers and a criminal closer, the Mets will propose a challenge. The Nationals will no longer be a treat. They have already signed Jayson Werth and Rick Ankiel,  and they have players such as Josh Willingham and Ryan Zimmerman who are offensive threats. Their rotation is already somewhat decent, and rumor has it that they are after a big name starter.

The Marlins were said to have considered trading for Zack Greinke during the Winter Meetings, and while this was highly unlikely, this probably worked out better for the Fish because they would have had to trade away the core of their team. Greinke ended up signing with the Brew Crew, which shouldn't leave Marlins fans worried, considering we only play them 8 times a year.

While some may say it is panic time, if the Marlins play defense, pitch well, and make contact, they will be a successful team in 2011. They may be seeking a veteran bat off the bench, and if they don't find one, John Baker has made it clear he is ok in that role. Once again, the National League East will be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball.

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