The 2006 Marlins accomplished things only imaginable if you played a full season on an XBox. They had several rookie of the year candidates – Scott Olsen, Josh Johnson, Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Josh Willingham. They set the franchise record for runs scored. They contended for a wildcard berth while fielding a team that cost less than one year of service from Alex Rodriguez.
They did all of this fielding not only a roster full of rookies, but a rookie manager as well.
So, what kind of expectations are in place for the Marlins of 2007? Not a repeat of last season, but regression.
Pretty much every expert has picked the Marlins to finish with a similar record to last season (78-84) at best, but for the most part they all agree that the Marlins won’t sniff a playoff spot. I think I can see why – they don’t even know who is on the Marlins roster this year.
ESPN tops off all the predication for prediction by asserting their “expertise” on baseball forecasting the Fish to go anywhere from 68-94 to 76-86. It doesn’t take much to undercut their credibility – it’s ESPN for God’s sake! Yet, to give the full effect, here are a couple of things to monitor:
- They picked Cody Ross to start CF because, “Likely to break camp because he’s out of options.”
- For Eric Reed they claim, “Thirteen HRs in 269 ABs with the Reds in ’06.” Um, huh? Reed played for the Marlins minor league AAA affiliate Alburquerque Isotopes in 2006 – and he damn sure never hit 13 home runs (5 instead). They also pegged him for coming off the Marlins bench. I guess they forgot about the Marlins signing Aaron “Bleepin'”Boone.
What about Fox Sports? For their preview, written by Ken Rosenthal, there doesn’t seem to be much to endorse. There is the safe prediction that the Marlins will hang around .500 but will not improve much beyond that. To his credit, Rosenthal at least mentions de Aza – the Marlins opening day centerfielder – whereas ESPN never does.
Still, in his preview piece, Rosenthal points out that the Marlins centerfield spot will be a huge hole – as he flops between Eric Reed and Alex Sanchez as the Marlins choice.
Well, Reed was optioned back to AAA and Sanchez was released.
Interestingly, Rosenthal also has praise for de Aza, “2B Dan Uggla might not be the only former Rule 5 draft pick to wind up as a Marlins regular. CF Alejandro De Aza, 23, has had an impressive spring. He can hit, play defense and has speed. He’ll open the season at Double-A Carolina, but don’t be shocked if he winds up in the starting lineup by May or June as the team’s center fielder if Eric Reed or Alex Sanchez struggles.”
So, guess that hole isn’t as big as he once thought, huh?
Still, he can’t seem to accurately recall the Marlins relievers from last year to this year as he claims only Pinto and Messenger are left. He forgot to mention Tankersley, the Marlins lefty rookie who made quite a splash last season, as well as Carlos Martinez and Logan Kensing – both of which are injured but expected to return sometime this season.
And of course there is the typical doom message about us losing Dontrelle Willis – for which he gives no reason why the Marlins would deal him. ESPN, on the other hand, picks him to be the Marlins bust for this season.
All in all, the experts on both these sites/media companies (both of which cover baseball and will telecast the games nationally) do a very poor job of correctly assessing the Marlins talent pool, let alone who is actually in that talent pool. What is more, they do not cite any specific reasons for their predictions. They don’t chart any historical patterns for rookies and their production. There is no attempt at examining trends or even using any shred of evidence whatsoever.
Should the Marlins expect dropoffs from some of their players? Yes. But could they expect someone to come out of nowhere? Yes. Can this team repeat their record last season? Yeah. I still don’t get why experts love picking the Mets and Phillies when the former has an aging starting staff and the latter has demonstrated to only hit at home and not on the road (.274 home, .260 on the road).
If everyone is picking other teams to improve, why not the Marlins? After all, the Phillies are adding Wes Helms to their roster to play 3B – he couldn’t crack the starting lineup with the Marlins last year!
So, ignore the talking heads like you did last year. After all, they didn’t get it in 2006, they won’t get it in 2007.