Merry Christmas, Fish Stripers!
The Miami Marlins may not have delivered a lot of good news for us Marlins fans in 2012, but that does not mean that Fish Stripes readers and Marlins fans should not rejoice this Christmas. Whether your joy be attached to your favorite baseball team or to something completely unrelated (I for one am quite excited for this afternoon's Oklahoma City Thunder / Miami Heat tilt from the American Airlines Arena), I would like to wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy holiday season on behalf of myself, the staff at Fish Stripes, and the whole crew at SB Nation!
On the topic of Christmas, I figured I would share some thoughts as to what I would like to see on my "wish list" for the Miami Marlins for 2013. Now, they call them "wishes" for a reason, and it is because I do not have great confidence that the Marlins will deliver on any of these. But if they do, they would make 2013 and beyond a more palatable experience.
1) A coherent five-year plan
There is no shame in dumping a plan you feel is not working, but it always seems as though the Marlins either do not have such a plan or simply cannot stick to the schedule they initially set for themselves. This season, it seemed the Marlins had a three-year plan that would see them attempt to compete and be able to free themselves of financial burden in the near future. However, just three months into the strategy, the Marlins began to bail on the plan, culminating ultimately in last month's fire sale trade fiasco.
The Marlins are entering a new era in 2013, and here is hoping they have a coherent five-year plan to which they can stick unless disaster happens. The team should not panic on any major league happening just because of a few months' worth of struggles, just like they should not get extremely excited about a month or two of hot play. There should be a plan in place, and the Marlins should more or less adhere to it unless the situation changes drastically.
2) A Giancarlo Stanton extension
Of course, we all know that is impossible, so it is the most pipe dream-like of wishes for this Marlins team. Perhaps the 2013 team will do what the (significantly better) 2006 team did and outperform expectations, leading to Stanton warming up to the Marlins' advances. But the likelihood of that happening is so low that this wish is extremely likely to go unfulfilled and cause a lot of disappointment in the future.
3) Health and Success for Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich
Like it or not, the Miami Marlins' future hinges on the success of top prospects Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich. This duo may be more important to the future of this era's team than any prospect in Marlins history, with the lone potential exception of Josh Beckett. Jeremy Hermida was the most highly esteemed of many top prospects in the 2006 era team. Stanton was an elite prospect heading into an established team in 2010.
Those two top prospects are likely to enter a team that is mostly barren of top talent. If both Yelich and Fernandez make their full-season debuts in 2014, they will see a team that likely has Stanton, a number of potential pitching options in Jacob Turner and Nathan Eovaldi, and a slew of unproven players who are still learning the major league ropes. The Marlins may be without Stanton in another season or two. This era's team will depend on the success of Fernandez and Yelich, and that success is predicated upon healthy, good seasons in Double-A from both players.
4) Development of three players
Three Marlins from the current crop of prospects and minor league fodder need to step up and become major league regulars for the future Fish to build a competitive group. Three of the group of Turner, Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Rob Brantly, Adeiny Hechavarria, Justin Ruggiano, and Logan Morrison need to become solid contributors at the big league level for the 2014 and 2015 Fish to be competent. Even if it means Hechavarria becomes an Alex Gonzalez or Turner becomes a Scott Baker, the team would be happy. The Marlins cannot afford an entire group of Chris Volstads and Cameron Maybins from this crew.
5) Jeffrey Loria ousted from ownership
Well, would that not be the best Christmas present for any Marlins fan? Alas, it too is not likely to come true. We can still wish, though.