From my Marlins season preview earlier today…
The Marlins clearly have the talent to win the NL East this year. But will the team’s chemistry hold up and enable them to reach the lofty goals they’ve set for themselves this offseason?
There are a lot of huge personalities in the Miami Marlins clubhouse, and those personalities aren’t limited to just the players. Manager Ozzie Guillen is legendary for his outspoken attitude, and owner Jeffrey Loria makes no qualms about stating what’s on his mind to the media. On any normal team, having two non-players as volatile as Guillen and Loria would be reason enough to expect a dysfunctional atmosphere, but things are a little more extreme with the Marlins.
Star left fielder Logan Morrison is a Twitter addict, often speaking his mind without a filter. The team sent him down to AAA last year, seemingly as a punishment for his loose fingers on Twitter. Morrison isn’t afraid to speak his mind, much like his manager, another Twitter icon.
Hanley Ramirez, the team’s new third baseman after spending his entire career at shortstop, has gotten into clubhouse fights, reportedly clashing with former managers Fredi Gonzalez and Edwin Rodriguez. Guillen won’t put up with Ramirez’s crap like the other two did, and that could be exactly what the superstar needs. Or, it could result in Ramirez taking his games and sniping to the next level. Ramirez ran Gonzalez out of town by consistently disrespecting him, and when Gonzalez tried to punish him, Loria wouldn’t let him. Rodriguez also resigned last summer in the wake of more Ramirez drama during the first bad season of his career.
There’s also new starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who has fought with teammates in the dugout, thrown at players repeatedly in an attempt to get ejected, and walked out of the clubhouse claiming to be retired during his tenure as a Cub. Of course, Zambrano is unbelievably talented when his head is in the game….the problem is, that doesn’t seem to happen very often.
Florida also has a few veterans on the team who have never had issues that have come close to resembling the issues brought by those players, most notably, Mark Buerhle and Heath Bell, a pair of free agents signed by the team this offseason. Another big free agent signing, Jose Reyes, has had problems in New York, but nothing close to the levels of insubordination put forward by Ramirez or Zambrano.
This Marlins team is huge on personalities. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the club is going to be a blast to cover in 2012. But at the same time, those huge personalities could turn into a giant car wreck as the season goes on. Imagine if Guillen tries to bench Ramirez. The two would probably get into a pissing match, and then Guillen would tell Loria off when he tries to tell Ozzie what to do.
This could be an absolute disaster. But at the same time, this could be a championship contender. It’s really quite fascinating.