Editor's note: Please give a warm welcome to Jesse Smith, who will be writing a weekly preview piece for us during the regular season! Welcome! -MJ
First off, I would like to introduce myself as I am new to the SB Nation and Fish Stripes family. My name is Jesse Smith and in between college classes, I am a baseball junkie. I played the game as a centerfielder starting at about age five until an injury stopped me junior year of high school. I’ll be providing a weekly outlook series. We’ll be taking a look at the week ahead every Monday for the Fish. This will include team matchups, injury updates, where they stand, and other miscellaneous tidbits from throughout the week. I hope you are all as excited for the season as I am!
Obviously, we are still a little ways away from Spring Training games, so this round we will recap the offseason and explore the new faces.
1B Michael Morse (Giants) It remains to be seen if he will ever return to his 2011 form (.303 31 home runs), but Morse is an intriguing addition. In his first full season since then, he performed admirably with the Giants, batting .279 and driving in 61 runs. In the postseason, he was used primarily as a pinch hitter early on. His solo home run against the Cardinals in Game Five of the NLCS not only tied up the game, it gave the Giants momentum they would never give up in the series. He turns 33 in March so the Fish are hoping they can squeeze out a few productive seasons before Father Time catches up.
2B Dee Gordon (Dodgers) In many cases, a head-scratching addition for the price tag. Regardless, Gordon will provide some spark to this club. There is one part of his game that cannot be questioned: his speed. Gordon is undeniably one of the fastest runners in the National League. His 64 stolen bases led the league just a year ago. Downside: he had a triple digit strikeout total and there is always the chance of the boom and bust season. Gordon, a 2014 All-Star, has only been exposed to Major League pitching for one full season. Hitting Coach Frank Menechino's main concern will be with consistency and the attempt to retain Gordon’s .289 batting average from last season. If Gordon can repeat that performance, he could be a run catalyst for a very powerful lineup.
3B Martin Prado (Diamondbacks/Yankees) I love this pickup for a few reasons. Prado is no stranger to the National League East as many of us remember his seven seasons with the Atlanta Braves. In that stretch, he was in the top 15 in batting average for National League hitters on four occasions. He’s averaged about 30 doubles over the last five years. In one word: consistent. We saw a dip in production early on in 2014, as he was batting .270 with only five home runs before being dealt to the Yankees. Prado shined the remainder of the year in Pinstripes, hitting .316 with seven home runs in 37 games. Only 31 years old, there is absolutely no reason to think Prado won’t shine as a member of the Marlins.
SP Mat Latos (Reds) I was debating on whether to talk about Latos or also newly acquired Dan Haren. Latos, finally given a slate of clean health, is only 27 years old this entire season. Why I think he is a great pickup for the Fish is his velocity. I’m noticing a trend with this starting rotation. Fernandez, Alvarez, and now Latos…what do they all have in common? They all have an average fastball at least in the mid-90s. Assuming this would be the postseason rotation, whoever Miami’s opponent would be would have to deal with constant heat throughout the series. Latos has a four-seamer that tops out around 96, maybe 97, but it is his two-seam that has scouts wiping drool off their chins (it tops around 94). Latos brings his five-pitch repertoire to Miami and looks to be a force for this young rotation.
2017 All-Star Game Announcement
Now there are plenty of other additions I could ramble about (Ichiro and Haren to name a couple), but let’s talk about the big news regarding the 2017 All-Star Game. Yes, indeed, the Marlins will host the midsummer classic. Marlins owner Jeffery Loria said of the announcement: "Today’s announcement is a landmark moment for our ballclub". In reality, this is a landmark. The weekend we get to celebrate the greatest players in the game all eyes will be on Miami. This will also be a chance for the organization to showcase Marlins Park and garner some attention for this young and quickly emerging team.
Question of the Week
Since we are all a community here at Fish Stripes, I like to get reader feedback. This segment will be at the end of each article of mine and will give you a chance to answer a question, make comments, or tell me my hair looks bad. Without further ado:
What is your ideal batting order for the 2015 Marlins?
Leave comments below (related to the question or not) and thank you for reading!