It's that time of year again. Valentine's Day has passed and Spring Training starts in a matter of days. People all around the world are throwing away chocolate boxes and flowers, and are digging out baseball caps and jerseys. The Marlins, however, are not. This is because they have notably received very little "love" in recent weeks regarding projections for the upcoming season. Both PECOTA and Bovada predict the 2015 Miami Marlins to finish at roughly .500.
Even after all of the trades and signings this winter to upgrade the roster at multiple positions, the Fish are only projected to win four more games this year. This is definitely not what the front office were aiming for when they made those deals. At least 88 wins and a posteason berth is what the team aspires to achieve. So will Miami really fall 7 games short of this target? Admittedly, many things will have to go right for the Marlins in 2015 for them to play deep into October, including some repeat performances (which fellow Fish Stripes writer Jesse Smith notes). There are questions hanging over the club, but there are questions hanging over every club at this time of year.
Bovada projects the Marlins to finish eighth in the National League, behind the Nationals, Dodgers, Cardinals, Padres, Giants (84.5 wins), Pirates and Cubs. Although the Nats, Dodgers and Cardinals all have questions regarding their rosters, they are pretty much locks to make the playoffs. The rest of the teams on the aforementioned list, including the Marlins, are projected to be separated by only 4 games when the season ends. Miami is predicted to be right in the thick of the playoff race until the end of the season, which is going to make 2015 very compelling indeed.
After a complete retooling of the roster, the Padres have been thrust into postseason talks. James Shields will join an already very promising rotation and two of the outfield spots will now be manned by former all-stars Justin Upton and Matt Kemp. Outfield defense and infield production could be problems for the Padres though as the season progresses. The Giants lost two key pieces in Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse, and did little to replace them, but one can never count out the world champions. The Pirates lost their ace Edinson Volquez and catcher Russell Martin, but they signed the intriguing Korean infielder Jung Ho Kang, and they are still lead by the fantastic Andrew McCutchen. Lastly, the Chicago Cubs should have a stellar rotation, but many of their position players are unproven youngsters.
All of the teams that will be in the playoff hunt in the National league have just as many (or more) questions about their playoff chances as the Marlins, yet the team is predicted to be on the outside looking in. The Fish will play the role of underdog again in 2015, and that's okay. They have thrived in this role before and it doesn't take a huge amount of imagination to see it happening again in 2015. The people of Miami should not be disheartened as predictions are not always correct. This team has a lot of promise and anything can happen in baseball; the Marlins have shown this themselves with their unlikely run to the 2003 World Series title. Whether it is right or wrong, people are already counting out the Marlins. Let's just wait and see how many questions are still being asked of Miami in October shall we?