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Miami Marlins: Five Keys to a Successful 2012

Every season for the past four or five years, Marlins owner Jeffery Loria has said that if his team “does not make the playoffs, they have fallen short of the front office’s expectations.” While that might have been considered an unrealistic goal given the budget the past few seasons, using that criteria to analyze the team’s productivity the past few years means that the Marlins have fallen well short of expectations.

In an attempt to make sure this team at least competes within their division during the upcoming season, the Marlins’ front office core has made significant moves that have dramatically improved their roster.

While bringing in names such as Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, the success of the Marlins in 2012 will most likely depend on players that have been on the roster for several years, such as Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson.

An injury-plagued Marlins team struggled in 2011, however the new Miami Marlins might only be five keys away from making the playoffs and becoming a contender once again.

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Miami Marlins 2012: Have the Marlins Done Enough to Be Team to Beat in NL?

The Miami Marlins have experienced plenty of changes this offseason, including new uniforms, a new stadium, a new manager and, most importantly, a new payroll.

Using the suddenly increased payroll, the Marlins didn’t waste any time before signing free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. They traded for Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano, and resigned familiar names such as Greg Dobbs.

The immediate success of the new-look Marlins will most likely depend on the leadership in the clubhouse. Bringing in Ozzie Guillen will not only appeal to the surrounding fan base, but will also lead to discipline.

Guillen is not afraid to speak his mind, which could be a good or bad thing in particular situations. Guillen, like left fielder Logan Morrison, often speaks to his fans on Twitter. If anybody can control Morrison’s tweeting obsession, it would be Ozzie.

Additionally, Guillen will have to focus on the work ethic of Hanley Ramirez. He was not pleased about having to move to third base, and may become frustrated at his new position as the season progresses.

By resigning Greg Dobbs—and bringing in Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle—the Marlins will have the most leadership in the clubhouse since the 2003 World Series team.

The additions the Marlins have made this offseason have made them, a team to respect in the upcoming season.

The first major addition, free agent shortstop Jose Reyes, may have angered fellow All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, but will most likely prove to be a great move for the team. Reyes has above average speed, and will be able to play gold glove caliber defense.

Ramirez, who will most likely be slotted third in the lineup, will have many more RBI (Runs Batted In) chances with Reyes at the top of the lineup. With Reyes and Ramirez, the Marlins might have one of the best left sides of the infield in all of baseball.

Signing Mark Buehrle and trading for Carlos Zambrano were two moves that improved an already dominant rotation. Featuring Josh Johnson at the front, the Marlins’ rotation may be one to watch in 2012.

Proceeding Johnson are Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez. They are two young pitchers who, when at their best, have “no hit stuff.”

Adding Buehrle and Zambrano supplies depth to the rotation. Buehrle, a soft-tossing lefty who has pitched multiple no hitters, will be the piece the Fish needed in the NL East, a division full of left-handed hitters.

Zambrano can have a bad temper at times, but if he stays confident and consistent—a challenge for manager Ozzie Guillen—he can very easily have a 12 win season.

Although these are not huge signings, the Marlins made some minor moves that may help them at times throughout the season. Wade LeBlanc—acquired from the Padres in exchange for John Baker—will not be in the rotation to start the season.

However, if one of the primary five starters gets injured, he may be the first to receive a phone call.

Clearly, resigning Greg Dobbs was the right move. He had a great 2011 season off the bench, and is successful when called upon to start.

Signing Aaron Rowand to a minor league deal, with an invitation to spring training, may pay off for the Marlins in the future. Previously classified as a “Marlins killer,” Rowand will provide depth off the bench and in center field.

Although they might be considered the underdog in the NL East, once again, they will most certainly be an entertaining team to watch in 2012.

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