Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond couldn't find the words to describe how excited he was about the Marlins' signing of free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. After the addition of Garrett Jones, Rafael Furcal, and Casey McGehee, Redmond believes his team is significantly more "energized" months before the unit will take the field for the first time.
"I think it's energized all of us," Redmond said in an MLB.com interview. "Going out and signing these guys, I know I'm excited. I know the coaching staff is excited. I think we all believe in the direction that we're headed and the guys that we have in place, the foundation."
Despite Redmond's optimism, the Marlins face several questions heading into Spring Training which begins in late February.
The Giancarlo Stanton Situation
Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton was the first to criticize the organization after the fire sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays last November, and it may take a winning season to prove to Stanton the Marlins are on the right track.
MLB.com reported earlier in the offseason that Miami was internally discussing giving the young power hitter an extension. But can he first bounce back after a subpar season?
Stanton batted .249 with 62 RBIs last season batting in the heart of the Marlins' lineup. He ended the 2013 season with a WAR of 2.4, however that figure is misleading after Stanton posted a 5.5 in 2012.
Injuries have occasionally plagued Stanton, but with the added protection in the lineup, he is expected to bounce back.
"As a former player, whenever you feel like you have to do that, it usually doesn't end up good," Redmond said."I think for him to be successful, we just want him to go out there and just have fun and play his game. He's so talented. He means so much to our lineup and to our organization. We just want him to go out there and just do his part with no pressure."
Garrett Jones and Left-Handed Pitching
At the Winter Meetings, the Marlins announced the signing of free agent first baseman Garrett Jones, which led to Miami trading Morrison to Seattle. The Pirates rarely placed Jones in the lineup against a left-handed pitcher in 2013, and Redmond may choose to do the same.
McGehee, a former teammate of Jones, could play at first base with Donovan Solano or Ed Lucas seeing time at third. Jones hit .192 against left-handed starters in 2013, and finding out if he could succeed against lefties will be key in a division featuring balanced rotations.
Rafael Furcal and Second Base
Miami signed Furcal, who is coming off of Tommy John surgery, to play second base, which was a position once thought to be occupied by either Solano or Derek Dietrich.
Furcal is a career .281 hitter, but is a natural shortstop. Coming off of a procedure, getting the former Cardinal closer to first can't hurt, but his range will be tested.
In 2012 with the Cardinals, Furcal batted .264 with 49 RBIs atop the St. Louis lineup. He made 15 errors as the starting shortstop.
Center Field Possibilities/ Shortstop Offense
Jake Marisnick was thought to be Miami's center fielder of the future, however offensive struggles have slowed his progress. The Marlins traded Justin Ruggiano for Brian Bogusevic, who could also see playing time in the outfield.
Marcell Ozuna, who missed the end of 2013 with a thumb injury, is likely the leading candidate, though his inability to adjust to pitchers on a nightly basis may cause trouble for a team that is in need of an improved offense.
Adeiny Hechavarria has shown he can play solid defensively at the major league level, but an inconsistent offensive approach has led to a possible two hitter batting eighth.
Filling The Last Rotation Spot