No, this is not a reprint from last season. But boy are we having déjà vu.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told reporters yesterday that he believes the Marlins have all the pieces necessary to reach the playoffs this season. He was slightly more subtle than last year during Spring Training when he basically told Fredi to make the playoffs, or start sending out résumés. Still, the message is the same.
Loria didn’t blink when asked if he believed this was a playoff team he was handing manager Edwin "One-Year Deal" Rodriguez. "I think it is," he said. "I think it has the ability to do it. Now it’s up to them. We put the thing together in a way that the pieces seem to work very well. New bullpen, better defense, the young players we’ve been bringing along from our minor league system … they’re a terrific bunch of ballplayers. We shouldn’t take them for granted just because they’re here in Miami and they’re ours. They are on par with any other club. I’ll match my guys up with anybody."
No one expects Loria to come out and say, "Listen, we did what we could with the money we were willing to spend, and now we're just keeping our fingers crossed it all works out." But he has put exclamation points where many of us would place giant question marks: Better defense! Shiny new bullpen! Young players! Matt Dominguez at third! Chris Coghlan in center! Call him a "glass is half full" kinda guy.
So how many games does Loria think the Marlins can win?
"I’m not going to predict," Loria said. "I don’t predict numbers. If I say a number, it’s going to be the number, so I don’t want to say it."
"I think we can win high 80s or 90 games if we stay healthy,"
But he's not mentioning any numbers.
The Marlins have won that many games exactly twice in their history, once in 1997 and again in 2003. No pressure though, guys.