With the Cardinals winning the world series and the 2011 season over and done with it is time to prepare for the 2012 season.  The Marlins will move into a new stadium with a new name, new colors, new logo, and hopefully some new top players.  The Marlins have promised to add payroll this off season, and it is believed to be around $80 million next year (up $23.1 million form 2011's $56.9 million payroll).  While the team has a nice nucleus of players between Hanley, Stanton, LoMo, and Gaby, the team does have several holes in its roster that need filling.

I should start off by saying that the Marlins, like most teams in MLB, will be making offers to Prince Fielder and Alber Pujols, but don't hold your breath on the team getting either player.  The Marlins will make offers somewhere in the $200 million range, but they will be outbidded by some team.  In the case of Albert Pujols that may not be a bad think when you consider he will be looking for a 7-10 years and while he will be good the next three years, he will be a drag on the the team that signs him for the last few years of the deal.  Fielder on the other hand is younger and most likely will be worth the money he is given.

So now for the realistic hole filling options pretty much goes as follows (note don't be suurprised if youu do not hear about any signings until the 18th when they unvail the new Miami Marlins logo and uniforms):

Third Base

Plan A- Jose Reyes- With the unreal expectations for the Marlins to be able to get either Pujols or Fielder, Reyes has become the player that has excited many Marlins fans of the possibility of getting.  The Marlins also contacted Reyes as soon as free agency began, unusual for baseball, as a way to show how serious they are about getting him.  The plan for the Marlins if they sign Reyes would be to keep him at short stop and move Hanley Ramirez over to third base.  Most baseball people believe that it is just a matter of time before Hanley gets moved to third any ways, and he has also already said he would be okay with the switch if the Marlins sign Reyes.

Plan B- Wilson Betemit or Aramis Ramirez- The free agent market is full of a lot of veteran players and average players.  The Marlins are not a team that is really interested in a stop gap player that only has 2-3 years left in his career.  Betemit is coming off of two solid seasons in 2010 and 2011 where he has hit in the upper .200, is a solid fielder and is still only 30 years old.  Any team looking for a third base man for the next several years would definitely have Betemit at the top of their free agent shoping list.  Mean while Ramirez who will be turning 34 is the most talented and biggest name free agent at third this year.  The issue with Ramirez is that he really only has three to four years left in him and even tough he did play in 149 games in 2011, he does have a tendency to get nicked up.

Backup Plan- Do nothing- While everyone would like to see the fish make a move, if the team can't get Betemit, Ramirez, or Reyes they maybe better off not adding a third baseman.  The team can go with Matt Dominguez, Emilio Bonifacio or move Omar Infate over to third base if need be.  While none of those opinions seem ideal, they are still better than wasting money on a player in free agency who will give you the same kind of production.

** Side note one of the free agents that is available is Greg Dobbs and he is someone who the Marlins need to resign.  While he showed last year he could be a serviceable third baseman, it is more important for the Marlins to sign him to be a pitch hitter.  He excelled in the roll last year and having someone who can produce in that roll is key for any team looking to be successful.

Starting Pitching

Plan A- Mark Buehrle- Their is no doubt that C.J. Wilson is the top pitcher in this years free agent pool, and as a result look for a team like the Yankees or Red Sox, both of whom need starting pitching, to over pay for him.  Buehrle is not a really exciting pitcher but he is very consistent and would be a great number two pitcher to Josh Johnson.  Marlins showed their interest in Burehrle as he was in town on Tuesday and the Marlins gave him a tour of the new stadium.

Plan B- Edwin Jackson- Roy Oswalt maybe the player that most people may want, but if he is looking for a team that can win now.  If he leaves Philadelphia, chances are he would sign with a team he sees as a team that can win a World Series next year for less money than he would with the Marlins.  And so Jackson looks to be the next best pitcher on the list.  While he tends to go back and forth between a series of good and bad starts, overall he has put up good numbers the last three years.  Also unlike many of the other available free agents he is in the prime of his career and does not have a history of injuries.

Plan C- Javier Vazquez- Pretty sure no matter what happens, unless he retires, Vazquez should be back with the Marlins in 2012.  Vazquez threw the first two and a half months of 2011 Vazquez looked like one of the worst signings in team history, but he was the best pitcher on the staff in the second half of the season.


Plan A- Heath Bell- The Marlins still have Leo Nunez under contract for one more year and he had a great 2011 season, but it is still unclear what is going to happen now that we know he is not actually Leo Nunez. Either way if he is on the team or not the Marlins are going to try to add Heath Bell.  He is clearly the best closer available and the biggest shock last year at the trade deadline was him not being traded away.  If the Marlins are able to acquire Bell that will free them up to either trade Nunez or let them go with Hensley in the 7th, Nunez in the 8th and Bell pitch the 9th and give the team a very formidable bullpen.

Plan B- Francisco Cordero or Francisco Rodriquez- Neither one is elite any more, but I would not be shocked to see either in a Marlins uniform next season and their is some belief that K-Rod would like to come to Miami to play for Ozzie Guillen.  Some better options would be Ryan Madson and Jonathan Papelbon, but both will most likely resign with their current teams.

Backup Plan- Leo Nunez-  If Nunez is able to come back then the Marlins will keep him and use him as a closer if need be.  They had plenty of opportunity to trade him away at the deadline last year and the fact that they didn't means that they must be ready to pay him and play him in 2012.

Center field

I have no clue what the Marlins plan to do here.  They could try and trade either Matt Dominguez (if they sign someone fore third base), Ricky Nolasco or Anibal Sanchez for a center fielder, but I'm not to sure how likely that is.  The top three CF free agents are Kosuke Fukudome, Nate McLouth, and David DeJesus, none of whom are really that great of options.  The Marlins could sign someone like Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer or Reed Johnson and move either them or Mike Stanton to center.  However when the Marlins start opening day 2012 it is most likely that the Marlins will stay in house and have either Chris Coughlan or Emilio Bonifacio play center.