A year ago, the Marlins went through a frustrating 62-100 campaign, but Hutton now sees some encouraging signs for the organization. In anticipation of Opening Day on Monday against the Rockies at Marlins Park, Hutton sat down with MLB.com to share his insights on what to expect in 2014.
MLB.com: After watching the club in Spring Training, what stands out heading into Opening Day?
Hutton: One of the fun things about coming up to Spring Training and watching the games, and watching the workouts, and talking to the coaches, and talking to the manager, and the players, and some of the new players, is that you always get a feel of a little different attitude. You sense what's going to be in the clubhouse and what's going to be on the field. It's been a good spring, as far as the players who have been brought in. Some holes have been filled. I think they've done a good job, and it's a good group of guys to watch so far.
MLB.com: The strength of the team? I imagine you'll say pitching. As you look at pitching, what do you kind of see in this rotation?
Hutton: Strength of the team is pitching, and power in right field. How about that analysis? If the starting pitching does what everybody expects, it could be exciting. You wouldn't expect anything differently from Jose Fernandez. You see the way he works. You want to see improvement from Nate Eovaldi. You want to see improvement from Henderson Alvarez. Then you have guys vying for the numbers four and five spots, and you hope that works out.
MLB.com: There seems to be more pitching depth than in previous years, isn't there?
Hutton: Where you feel good about that if you're a Marlins' fan is that, if certain things don't work out, there is some good depth in the pitching. We've all seen that with some of the youngsters coming up. The pitching certainly is a strength, especially the starting pitching.
MLB.com: How about the bullpen?
Hutton: I think the bullpen is going to be a little better, too.
MLB.com: There seems to be a lot of guys who can throw 95, 96, 97 or higher. That's something we haven't really seen in the past with this organization.
Hutton: Well, you like that, and you like those power arms setting up Steve Cishek, who was tremendous last year. Steve's a guy who gives right-handed hitters such a crazy look.
MLB.com: Obviously, offense is going to be the big key. Are they going to be able to score enough runs? What are you seeing from the offense?
Hutton: After last year, they have to score more runs. I think with the improvement at third base, Casey McGehee, I've talked to him. He certainly learned a little bit in Japan. My feeling is, if you don't learn how to hit the fork ball, and all the off-speed stuff they see in Japan, you're not going to last there. He had a solid year there last year. He's going to give you some power.
MLB.com: How about some of the other moves?
Hutton: Garrett Jones has averaged 20 home runs a year for five years in a row. He should help at first base. [Jarrod] Saltalamacchia behind the plate should be an improvement as far as hitting. You hope Christian Yelich gets better, and Marcell Ozuna gets better. Then all those outfielders will fall into place.
MLB.com: Giancarlo Stanton, obviously, we all know what happened to him last year. He got hurt. It wasn't his finest season. He's had a very good spring. What do you expect from him?
Hutton: Just keep him on the field. Stay healthy. If he does, I'm a firm believer that with the way he hits, and the kind of power he has, if he's healthy for 145-150 games, he's going to hit 35 or 40 home runs. He has that ability.
MLB.com: Do you think this team has the capability to surprise some people? They make it clear: this is a process. They're not trying to do many shortcuts. Is this the type of team, with a second Wild Card, that might have a shot if all things fall right?
Hutton: I'm not going to go there yet. But I think it's the type of team that if you're the Braves, if you're the Nationals or you're the Phillies, you don't want to play them. You're looking at the rotation and you don't want to face Jose Fernandez. You might not want to face Eovaldi. So it's a team that's going to give those teams some trouble.