Will Marlins spending spree pay off?

Our experts discuss the Cardinals-Marlins opener on ESPN

Updated: April 4, 2012, 12:15 PM ET
ESPN.com

Marlins Heath Bell and Jose ReyesAP Photo/Jeffrey M. BoanThe Marlins paid big bucks for Heath Bell and Jose Reyes, but FA spending sprees often backfire.

The MLB season gets back in gear Wednesday night as the Miami Marlins open their new ballpark against the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals on ESPN (7 ET). In today's Triple Play, our analysts discuss some key storylines for both clubs heading into the season.


1. What are the chances this Marlins spending spree is a disaster?


Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN), ESPN New York
Down the road, when the Marlins get to the latter years of backloaded contracts, it's entirely conceivable they will pay the price, with unproductive players having bloated salaries. Jose Reyes, for instance, is making $10 million this season but $22 million per year 2015-17. For the next few seasons, though, Miami will enjoy tremendous success. Scouts say the Marlins have looked the best of any NL East team. And you cannot overstate how valuable Reyes can be to an offense. Consider this: From the time of Reyes' June 10, 2003, major league debut through the end of last season, the Mets had a 538-496 record (.520 winning percentage) when he started and a 155-207 record (.428) when he did not.

David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield), SweetSpot
I'd put it about 25 percent. The concern is too many players with injury histories, such as Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, Carlos Zambrano, Logan Morrison (in the minors). Even Giancarlo Stanton was banged up in spring training. Put it this way: Miguel Cabrera has missed fewer games in his career than Reyes missed just last season.

Matt Philip (@mattphilip), Fungoes
Omar Infante and Edward Mujica are going to be worth every penny. Oh, you meant the $200 million they spent on Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle and manager Ozzie Guillen. The Marlins will benefit this year, but injury risk and age will render the spree an unwise use of resources.


2. David Freese: October fluke or here to stay?


Rubin: Here to stay, at least as an RBI producer. There's no way Freese will replicate anything close to last year's .397 postseason average in the regular season, but he should continue to be productive driving in runs. And he will play third base reliably, as well.

Schoenfield: He's here to stay, but his postseason heroics were a bit of a fluke. Even when he has played, he has averaged just 13 home runs and 41 walks per 162 games. And remember, he's not young: He turns 29 later this month, so he's unlikely to improve. Nice player, but don't be misled by October.

Philip: Fans who tuned in during the regular season know Freese might not have been as dramatic as he was in the playoffs but was just as productive, with a .350 OBP and .441 SLG -- once he started playing, that is. Whether he is here to stay is predicated not on his ability but on his health. This is the first time in his four years in the big leagues that he's leaving spring training without an ankle injury.


3. Which oft-injured pitcher will make more starts: Chris Carpenter or Josh Johnson?


Rubin: Johnson. After all, he is going to have a big head start, taking the ball opening night against the Cardinals. Carpenter, meanwhile, might be sidelined for a couple of months into the season because of the nerve irritation in his right shoulder.

Schoenfield: Is this a trick question? I'll go with Johnson only because he's the guy who's healthy right now. Including the postseason, Carpenter threw 280 innings in 2011, including 36 extremely high-stress innings in October. At 37, it becomes more difficult to bounce back from that kind of punishment.

Philip: With Carpenter out indefinitely (and probably at least for a couple of months), Johnson already has a head start. Given that injury-plagued Carpenter faced a career-high 996 batters in his age-36 season last year, the Cardinals will be lucky if he starts half as many as Johnson.