They know in order to bring that title to Miami, though, they need to dethrone the five-time defending National League East champion Phillies. The Marlins hope to take the first step toward doing exactly that on Monday afternoon, when they send Anibal Sanchez to the mound to square off against Cole Hamels in the opener of their divisional slate at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
With the Phillies (1-2) still missing slugger Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley as they recover from injuries, Marlins catcher John Buck said these early-season contests are crucial despite the long season ahead.
"I think we need to take advantage against them now, while they don't have all their guys," Buck said. "We definitely feel like we need to pick up these series while not all of their guys are there."
The Marlins would welcome any victory against the Phillies at this point, having gone just 11-25 against their divisional foe over the past two seasons. Philadelphia won 10 of the last 14 meetings in 2011, outscoring Miami, 74-42, in those contests.
"[We] just worry about the Marlins," first-year Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I don't know how they did last year against them. I don't want to know. But we just have to go there and believe. We've got a better club than we did last year. [Giancarlo] Stanton was banged up, [Logan] Morrison was hurt. Hanley [Ramirez] was out of the lineup. This is a different ballclub. I expect to compete better against them this year."
Even with the Marlins entering this season's clash with a new-look -- and healthier -- lineup, they will still have their hands full. After all, while the Phillies' lineup isn't fully healthy, they still boast one of the league's best rotations, something not lost on Buck and the Marlins.
"Their starting rotation is just experienced," Buck said "It's like, No. 1 after No. 1 after No. 1 in that rotation. With that strength of rotation, it gives you strength in their bullpen."
Hamels, the "No. 1" for the Phillies on Monday, went 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA against the Marlins last season. Sanchez, meanwhile is just 3-8 with a 5.09 ERA in 16 career starts against Philadelphia, but -- like the Marlins -- he is hoping to reverse those fortunes in 2012.
"We know they have a great pitching staff. We know they have a great ballclub," Guillen said. "[But] so do we. I think the Marlins are going to be our own enemy."
Marlins: Buck in lineup Monday, Morrison out
In an attempt to keep his players fresh early in the season while also getting his bench players some at-bats, Guillen rested first baseman Gaby Sanchez and catcher John Buck on Sunday. Both are expected to be back in the lineup for Monday's opener.
Not in the lineup will be left fielder Logan Morrison. Guillen said he plans to give Morrison the day off Monday, something he will do periodically throughout the season with Morrison as a result of the left fielder having surgery on his right knee in early December.
"Everybody on this ballclub can contribute," Guillen said. "We don't have to wait for Hanley to get hot, or [Emilio] Bonifacio to steal four bases. Everybody here has a chance to contribute every day. That's what we want."
Phillies: Thome not expected to start home opener
Despite making his first start in the infield Sunday since June 13, 2007, when he was the White Sox, Jim Thome will not be manning the first-base bag in Monday's home opener.
"It's too early to start playing him two days in a row," Manuel said of Thome, who went 0-for-3 on Sunday. "I don't want to do that, really."
Thome started a 3-6-3 double play following a leadoff single in the fourth inning, and had an otherwise uneventful day in the field.
Placido Polanco is hitting .500 (9-for-18) with two home runs in his career against Sanchez.
Buck's only two career hits off Hamels are home runs (2-for-12)
Since 2005, the Marlins have won just one season series against the Phillies (10-8 in 2008).