Monday, April 14, 2008

Which South Florida Sports Franchise Will Improve First?

Today, Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel found a little optimism within a miserable question: Which weathered franchise in South Florida will improve first? This is his order:

1. Heat
2. Marlins
3. Dolphins
4. Panthers

Before I give my opinion, let me just say that the Panthers were on the cusp of the playoffs, and the Marlins are currently in first place. It's way too early to call the Marlins a success, but for the sake of argument, let's focus on the 2009 season. Here's my order:

1. Heat: I agree with Dave Hyde here. The only thing stopping the Heat from being a playoff team is Dwyane Wade's health. As I've said before on this blog, it's easy to forget just how dominant Wade was when healthy. Throw in Marion/FA and an early draft pick (Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose), and this team is suddenly good again. I also can't imagine the defensive effort being any worse. In a renewed season, the Heat will rediscover their will to play hard on both ends of the floor.

2. Marlins: Again, Dave Hyde and I are on the same page. I was almost tempted to put them first, but I never underestimate Dwyane Wade. Imagine this current lineup, supported by a monster staff of Josh Johnson, Annibal Sanchez, Chris Volstad, Gaby Hernandez, Scott Olsen, and refined versions of Andrew Miller, Ricky Nolasco, and Rick Vanden Hurk. They'll all be back. Oh, and Cameron Maybin just might be starring in center field too. The future is bright for the Marlins.

3. Panthers: This is where Hyde and I disagree. The Panthers showed tremendous promise at the end of the year. David Booth is clearly a star in the making, and there are a number of other young players on the verge of breaking out. If they can retain Olli Jokinen (a player Mr. Hyde conveniently left out), they'll be a playoff team for certain.

4. Dolphins: I just don't see much happening this year, even under strong management. Is John Beck the starting QB? I like the 'Fins chances of pulling off 7 or 8 wins, but this isn't a contending team yet (of course, we really need to see what happens in the Draft first to truly determine this). Now as for the 2009-10 season? That's a whole other story. Also on the Dolphins' side: in no other league do teams complete turnarounds like the NFL.

Now that I've put this all together, I'm feeling quite giddy about our sports teams down here. Things may have hit rock bottom, but they'll be fine and dandy soon enough. I'll leave you with projected records:

2008-09 Heat: 47-35, 5th seed
2009 Marlins: 88-74, contend for Wild Card
2008-09 Panthers: 41-30-11 (93 points) - 7th seed
2008-09 Dolphins: 7-9


Imber said...

This is an extremely debatable issue. I do think the Heat are somewhat close to getting back into contention, but I don't think they're going to be championship material for a long time. The Marlins I must completely disagree with because as soon as any of these guys ask for anything over 500K they will be traded. It's a vicious, yet unfortunately never ending cycle (unless Loria keeps his promise after the stadium comes to fruition). The Panthers are close and I think with the right coach they will be playoff bound soon. The Dolphins are more than a quick fix away, but I don't see them as far off as many people do. By 2009 they should be back into contention as well. The future is bright here, as you said.

My order:

1. Panthers (Competing for playoffs and division titles)
2. Heat (Competing for playoffs and division titles)
3. Dolphins (Competing at the .500 mark, closing in on playoffs again)
4. Marlins (Sub .500 but steadily improving, until the next sale)

Stanley said...

To put it bluntly, I disagree. The Heat are more than just a healthy D-Wade from returning to playoff form, even if they are in the east. And I doubt Marion will stick around in the offseason. The Panthers were on the edge of the playoffs this season. Depending what the new coach brings in, the talent is there to be a serious contender next season. The Marlins are more than a year away from seriously competeing, despite their "hot" start. And the 'fins can only go up from last year... I think. Who knows. Another new coach, a new system, still no #1 QB in sight... it could be another year not unlike '07. Or, because of their pitiful season, they should be given a relatively easy schedule for '08, and other than playing the Patriots twice (and even New England could struggle this year, losing key players on offense and defense) the Dolphins might move up the ladder.

1. Panthers
2. Dolphins
3. Marlins
4. Heat

Future Fish said...




the amount of pitching the Marlins will have is absurd... they'll plug all the holes they need.

Jay Warman said...

As usual, I agree with future fish.

DPorty said...

That would be a big leap for the hapless Heat, I don't see them getting to 45 wins. That is unless they get Michael Beasley and he turns into LBJ quickly.