Everyone predicted us to be 100-game losers this year. Even I thought they'd lose 92 games. Fortunately, the Marlins played their asses off and exceeded almost all our expectations. Oh and what better way to end the season than to CRUSH the Mets, end their playoff hopes, and close that ugly-ass stadium forever. This series made the pain of not making the playoffs much easier.
Anyone else think that Marlins/Mets will become a huge rivalry now? I sure hope so. I love going to Marlins/Mets games and seeing the Met fans go home empty-handed. Ok, getting a bit off-topic now.
So what went wrong this year? Let's start with the bullpen. At times, it was spectacular, but ever since the Colorado series, it seemed to tail off and become very inconsistent. Kevin Gregg was a disaster in the second half, to say the least. There was a two week span where he blew 4 saves (the Marlins ended up losing all four). Arthur Rhodes was a great addition, but that in itself wasn't a cureall for the bullpen.
Speaking of trades... remember that Manny trade that didn't happen? At first, I thought it would have been a stupid trade for the Marlins. The more I thought about it in the time where it was still in the air, the more I realised that it would have been a great trade. Seeing what happened to our offense in August, I see now that it would have made a huge difference. I watched a few Dodgers highlights with Manny and I saw that he basically makes good contact every time he's up, which is what the Marlins desperately needed in August, when their playoff hopes basically died. From what I remember, we would have lost Tucker and Hermida... both basically did nothing for us since the trade deadline.
Injuries also had a significant impact. As we all know, Josh Johnson and Anibel Sanchez were out for half the year. Willingham also missed 50 games and wasn't playing the same way until about a week ago. Uggla had a sprained ankle that affected him (he had a .290 Average and 23 HR before the injury, ever since he batted around .240 with only 9 HR and seems to strike out every game).
The future, however, looks very very bright for the Marlins. Although a lot of players are up for arbitration, I don't expect them to get extremely pricey, so I think the core will be back. I'm hoping that we'll at least have Willingham, Uggla, Ross, and Cantu back. Cantu in particular, who had an amazing year, I would love to see return. I heard someone say that you can't rely on Cantu having another year like this, which couldn't be any more wrong. In 2005 he had similar stats, except no one noticed because he was with the Rays (who are now Division Champs, congrats to them!). Even if we see some of these players go, we can count on our farm system to back us up. Gaby Sanchez has looked promising and Maybin's a machine. Oh and did I mention that our pitching rotation is one of the best in the league? When Scott Olsen is your 5th starter, then that's pretty fucking good.
John Baker was also a very pleasant surprise. He isn't a great defensive catcher, but he knows how to hit. And of course, Hanley was spectacular, as always.
I can end this entry by saying how proud I am be a Marlins fan and that the future looks very bright for the fish with a good farm system and a stadium that will probably happen. If you read this entire entry, then sorry for dragging it on. Have a good winter. See you in the spring.