Marlins | Offense

New additions provide Miami Marlins some firepower

After enduring a frustrating 100-loss season in 2013 without much protection or experience in the lineup, slugger Giancarlo Stanton says there is a different feel in the Marlins clubhouse in 2014

mnavarro@MiamiHerald.comApril 1, 2014 

They went through 132 different lineups, many of them featuring five rookies who combined to make 302 starts.

Ten different batters hit cleanup including Placido Polanco, Ed Lucas and Matt Diaz.

Run production wasn’t the only thing the Marlins sorely lacked last season. Veteran leadership, protection for Giancarlo Stanton and lineup consistency were right up there as well.

Monday, four of the five new pieces in which the team invested $37 million to provide some punch around their best offensive weapon made their debuts in a 10-1 Opening Night rout of the Colorado Rockies.

Not all of them contributed with hits.

But there’s no doubt the presence alone of Jeff Baker, Casey McGehee, Garrett Jones, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Rafael Furcal (expected back from the disabled list in a couple of weeks) already has been felt in the Marlins clubhouse. And the guy with the broadest shoulders in the room has definitely taken notice.

“Just a comfortable feel,” Stanton said before the game when asked what the difference is between the locker room he stood in Monday and the one he agonized in as the Marlins lost 100 games a year ago.

“You’ve got guys here now who have been here and done it before, gone through ups and downs a lot more than the guys coming up [from the minors]. Even if you say you’re not panicking, there was that sense. When you have guys coming in from different organizations, winning World Series titles, you get that knowledge. And that helps to kind of chill everyone out and get the focus right.”

Marcell Ozuna, one of eight who hit cleanup behind Stanton last season, provided most of what Jose Fernandez needed early Monday with a solo home run, a double and a run scored. But there were also contributions from the new additions.

McGehee, who hit cleanup Monday, had a bases-clearing double in the fifth and then an RBI double in the eighth. Baker hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Saltalamacchia reached on an infield single in the seventh.

“We saw what our lineup looked like without [Stanton] in the middle of it. So we went out to get him support ... so it’s not on one man’s shoulders to carry the load,” president of baseball operations Mike Hill said.

“These guys probably weren’t the sexiest signings, but we felt we were getting consistent experience, veterans at the Major League level and guys that do have some track record that no matter what happens in their season they’re going to give you production and hopefully that will allow us to weather whatever storm we face.”

Making Stanton feel better about his surroundings is just the first step in trying to lock him down for the future.

Even though the Marlins control him through 2016 his contract and future with the team figures to be one of those persistent storms that Hill and the front office will face this season and beyond. And don't think for a second Stanton didn't notice the six-year, $144.5 million contract extension the Los Angeles Angels recently gave Mike Trout.

“That's awesome for him to get that security and know he’s going to be there,” Stanton said when asked about Trout on Monday. “But that's not the focus [for me] right now.”

It isn’t now. But it will be before long. Stanton said prior to the season he wants to see some roster stability and have better hitters around him before discussing an extension in the offseason. Winning wouldn’t hurt either.

Saltalamacchia, who signed the biggest and longest deal of any new addition to the roster (3-year, $21 million), sees playoff potential in the Marlins clubhouse. He recently experienced a worst-to-first, World Series winning season with the Boston Red Sox.

Nobody outside of the Marlins clubhouse expects that kind of magical turnaround. But inside it? “We expect to win,” Saltalamacchia said.

“That's what you play the game for. If you’re not, then you should check yourself again. But I don’t see that here. I see a bunch of guys that want to win, young guys who have never been in that situation before but want to be. Being a guy with four or five other guys in here who have [won in the playoffs] you get hungry for more. I think that’s what we’re trying to have here — that atmosphere of winning, where losing is not an option.”

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