It seems like forever since we’ve seen the Marlins take the field, and finally the excruciating wait is over. After finishing a strong second in the National League East a season ago with a record of 87-75, our Marlins look to get over the hump in 2010 and regain the championship form that we South Floridians have come to know and love.  While free agency has once again come up empty for Florida (no surprise there) the Marlins have decided to “play the hand they were dealt” and kept their own free agents in order to pursue the National League Pennant.  With a strong, young core already intact, Florida opened up their piggy bank and kept the best young pitcher in baseball today, Josh Johnson, with a four year, $39 million extension, showing that they are committed to winning not only this year but for years to come.  Now that these young Marlins have added one more year under their belts to mature, the sky is the limit for these young men.  Let’s breakdown our home team, position by position, to see where the Fish stack up with the rest of the National league. Catcher- Jon Baker #21- After platooning behind the plate with Ronny Paulino a season ago, Baker is going to be given all the chance in the world to secure the starting position as his own.  While appearing in 112 games for the Marlins in 2009, Baker batted a respectable .271 with 101 base knocks and nine home runs.  Before the 09′ season, Baker was considered a candidate for break out player of the year before his struggles with left handed pitching became apparent throughout the course of the season. Baker has a top level skill set but has a lot of work to do before he can be considered to be an everyday player for the Marlins. If spring training is any indication on Baker’s performance in 2010, then Marlin fans may be seeing their catcher for the next decade.   Projected 2010 Stats: 279 AVG, 143 H, 17 HR, 74 RBI First base- Gaby Sanchez #14- Being demoted to the minor leagues is all about what you do with it.  Many Major Leaguers get sent down, hang their heads, and are never heard from again.  When it happened to Gaby Sanchez all he did was bat .290 with 16 homers and 55 RBI’s in 84 games for Triple A New Orleans last year.  He comes into this season more focused than ever, and it shows.  After ditching all of the greasy foods in his diet (i.e. pizza), he’s dropped 26LBs and is in the best shape of his life.  Look for Gaby to get his shot at redemption in 2010 with the Marlins. Projected 2010 Stats: .267 AVG, 112 H, 23 HR, 83 RBI Second Base- Dan Uggla #6- One of our favorite Marlins is back with the club after an off season of arbitration.  There is no doubt that Uggla can get get it done in the big leagues and the former All Star looks to regain the form that set him into the national spot light.  After batting a disappointing .243 in 2009, look for Uggs to rebound with authority in 2010.  He has always come through in a clutch for Florida when they’ve needed it in the past and this year expectations will be no different. While his average dropped, his power certainly did not.  The little man belted out 31 homers and 90 RBIs last season and looks to expand on these numbers. If Uggla can raise that average and stay more consistant in 2010, the Marlins will have the most feared one-two punch in the middle with himself and SS Hanley Ramirez. If not, Uggla could be on the trading block to a contender looking for someone with a little late season pop in his bat. Either way, catch him at Dicey’s after the game and buy the man a drink. Projected 2010 Stats: 268 AVG, 152 H, 33 HR, 95 RBI Shortstop- Hanley Ramirez #2- The crown jewel of the Florida Marlins organization is without question Hanley Ramirez.  This guy has just gotten better and better every year he has been in the league.  Say what you want about the New York Yankee’s Derek Jeter; Ramirez is simply better.  He is the reigning National League batting champ (.342) and is the best Shortstop in the sport.  He is the complete package when it comes to creating a baseball player.  He hits for average (.342), power (24 HR), drives in runs (106 RBI), and can swipe some bases (27 SB).  Ramirez is the heart and soul of this Florida team and as he goes, so do the Marlins.  Good thing all the South Florida great has been doing is going up.  When you have a player the caliber of a Hanley Ramirez on your squad, chances are you are going to be in the hunt for playoff contention come September.  That’s exactly what the Marlins have in mind. Projected 2010 Stats: 335 AVG, 204 H, 30HR, 117 RBI, 33 SB Third Base- Jorge Cantu #3- Hip, hip, Jorge!! These were the cheers of Marlins fans after year one with Cantu on the team.  This guy is starting to hit his stride as a professional and there is no better place than South Florida.  In his first year with the Fish, Cantu put up a .289 AVG, with 169 H, 16 HR, and 100 RBI.  Not too shabby for someone that was supposed to be a fill in type player.  Now that he is comfortable with his teammates and his surroundings all signs point to Cantu having a All Star like season in 2010. He will have all the opportunity in the world to drive in runs batting behind Ramirez in the line up. With teams pitching around Hanley, Cantu must be the man to punish them. Look for career numbers out of Cantu in 2010. Projected 2010 Stats: 280 AVG, 178 H, 28 HR, 121 RBI Right Field- Cody Ross #12- Ever since starting with the Marlins in 2007, Cody Ross has been one of those guys that has really settled into his groove.  His numbers have increased by leaps and bounds every year, and he has shown his teammates that hard work really does pay off.  He is the type of player that maximizes his abilities through work ethic and all out hustle.  Whether Ross is making a game changing play in the outfield, or is knocking the ball out through the gap, he epitomizes the grit that this Florida Marlin’s team is all about. After winning his arbitration for $4.5 million, Ross is feeling appreciated and is ready to get back down to the business of winning baseball games. He is the Marlin’s spark plug and will do whatever is asked of him to win games. Projected 2010 Stats- 272 AVG, 156 H, 25 HR, 91 RBI Center Field- Cameron Maybin #24- Just like First Baseman Gaby Sanchez, Maybin is the type of guy that just refuses to quit. After starting the 2009 campaign on the Marlin’s roster, Maybin struggled to find his way at the elite level and was relegated back to the minors. Instead of pouting about what could have been he refocused and rededicated himself to the game. Maybin tore it up in the minors and was recalled to the Marlin’s roster on August 31, where he went on to have himself a nice little .293 AVG to finish the year.  Once again, you have to admire a kid with this kind of spirit. It appears that this is finally his shot to show that he belongs at the top level of his craft and will represent the Marlin’s in centerfield.  Let’s see what you got! Projected 2010 Stats: 271 AVG, 68 H, 2 HR, 38 RBI, 20 SB Left Field- Chris Coghlan #8- Just a ho-hum rookie year in 2009 for the Marlin’s Chris Coghlan wouldn’t you say? All he did was lead all National League rookies in AVG (321), runs (84), hits (162), doubles (32), and total bases with (232) while becoming the third Marlin player ever to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself.  In 2010 Coghlan looks to avoid the ever dreaded Sophomore slump and continue his onslaught on Major League pitching.  This youngster is a hitting machine and now that he has a defined role and is a rookie no longer, all of baseball is in fear of this kid. If he can improve upon his impressive rookie season, (all signs point to yes), this Marlin’s offense can be one of the most feared in the entire league. Projected 2010 Stats- 317 AVG, 173 H, 16 HR, 60 RBI Starting Pitcher- Josh Johnson #55- The unquestionable ace of this fine Marlin’s staff is number 55 Josh Johnson. Representing Kenny Powers jersey, he easily has better stuff than everybody’s favorite TV pitcher. After a dominant 2009 going 15-5 with a 3.23 ERA and 191 K’s, Johnson is poised to be the best pitcher in all of baseball. He can bring the heat as well as keeping batters off balance with a variety of pitches which include his “hammer curve” which forces a lot of ground balls and strike outs.  Finally healthy after being two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Johnson is clearly 100% healthy and is at the top of his game.  With a little more run support in his starts we have a legitimate Cy Young candidate in Johnson down here in South Florida. Projected 2010 Stats- 21-7, 3.12 ERA, 214 K, NL Cy Young Winner All in all, 2010 is shaping up to be another exciting year of Florida Marlin’s Baseball.  If our youngsters can grow from last season and our veterans can continue to improve, there is no doubt in my mind that Florida will be a playoff team this season.  Let’s make sure that we all get out to the stadium to support these guys because you as a fan really can make the difference. 2010 Prediction- 92-70 Wild Card