Series Preview: Mets vs. Marlins Interview with Marlin Maniac

Posted on by Kerel Cooper

In preparation for the New York Mets vs. Florida Marlins four game series, I chatted with Michael Jong of Marlin Maniac and fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance member. Read below as we discuss Josh Johnson, Hanley Ramirez and the Marlins chances of making the playoffs this year.

Q. Tell the readers a little about yourself and Marlin Maniac.
A. Marlin Maniac is a Florida Marlins blog which focuses on the objective analysis of the team. I try to not be a fanboy, and I try to use sabermetrics and observation to analyze the team and inform my opinions. The staff and I also try to keep everyone informed of the news that goes on with the team, giving a saber-slant to the day-to-day happenings in the game.

Q. The Marlins finished 2nd in the division in 2009 and there were some who expected them to be just as good, if not better this season. How to you feel about the Marlins playoff hopes in 2010?
A. I feel like the Marlins have an outside shot at the playoffs in 2010, but it would require more than a few things falling into place. The team needs close to average production from more than a few players who are currently not providing it. The Marlins need to improve their team defense so that they are not giving up two full wins a year more than the average team due to a lack of range. The team also needs at least one of their starters past Ricky Nolasco and Josh Johnson to perform well for a full season. If so, there is still a chance.

Q. Josh Johnson is the ace of the pitching staff. He’s 3-1 with a 3.35 ERA so far this season. Give me your thoughts on how he’s done so far this year.
A. JJ has been very good so far this year. So far this season, he’s struck out 27.0% of the batters he has faced, though he has also walked a few more than he has done historically. He’s also still doing a good job of keeping the ball on the ground (45.2% GB%, lower than usual, but it should go up) and in the park (0.62 HR/9 innings), which means he is generally in line for a third straight solid season, if this pace continues.

Q. Is there one area of the team you would like to see the Marlins improve upon during the season?
A. I would love for this team’s defense to improve. The Marlins have had a substantially poor team defense over the last few years, worth some 40+ runs worse than average since 2007. This year, the team leads the league in errors and has been about four runs below average according to UZR. If the team could improve defensively, they could give themselves an extra two wins by just being average defensively.

Q. Hanley Ramirez looks to be off to a good start this season. He’s always being mentioned as one of the best players in the game. What’s the one part of his game you enjoy watching the most? and Why?
A. Hanley is a true five-tool stud player, so it is really difficult to pick out what I like to watch most about his game. His baserunning is exciting when his legs are healthy, and his power is tremendous. I also always enjoy when he is able to work a walk or tough plate appearance against a pitcher who challenges him, because it just assures me that we not only have a great hitter, but one with a great eye for the strike zone. That should keep his value afloat even if his gifted athletic skills begin to decline in the (long, long-term) future.

Special thanks to Michael for answering my questions. Be sure to check him out over at Marlin Maniac.

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