by Suzie Raven
The young talent on the Florida Marlins and the unstoppable bats of the Philadelphia Phillies offense make an interesting battle for first place in the National League East.
The Phillies as a contender isn’t a huge shock. They scraped past the New York Mets and into the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs last September, and have an even better chance this year (please see, "Baseball: The Phillies' Secret Weapon, the Bullpen" for more).
It’s the Marlins that came out of nowhere.
No one, even the Marlins themselves, expected the team to be a contender two months into the 2008 season. During the off-season, they traded power hitter Miguel Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for prospects. The Marlins planned to spend this year rebuilding.
And then they swept the Arizona Diamondbacks, who currently hold first place in the National League West.
"That series was like a wake-up call for us," reliever Justin Miller said. "It was like, 'Hey, we've got a legitimate chance.' "
At slightly under $22 million, the Marlins payroll is the lowest in the majors. It’s a fraction of what the Phillies and Mets (4th place in the division) pay their players; both teams have payrolls over $100 million. It’s also less than New York Yankees shortstop Alex Rodriguez makes in a year. The Yankees are last in the American League East, by the way.
Winning isn’t all about money.
As Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of the Marlins, "they have talent, desire and fight. They have young players with a lot of energy."
(The photo of reliever Justin Miller of the Marlins is from 2007 and is by Chris J. Nelson; the photo is in the public domain.)
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by Suzie Raven