Team Profile – Miami Marlins
In 2011, the Florida Marlins decided it was time to rebrand in order to attract more fans from the Miami area. So, the Miami Marlins were born, and the team immediately gave fans something to get excited for. The Marlins made a big splash in the offseason, acquiring free agent shortstop Jose Reyes, free agent pitcher Mark Buehrle, and hiring former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to lead the charge. Big things were expected of the Marlins, and then the season started. Things didn’t exactly go as planned in the first half, so the Marlins decided that it was time to have a fire sale. Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez went to the Tigers, while Hanley Ramirez went out west to the Dodgers. Things continue to look bleak, so can the Marlins do anything to salvage this season?
The Marlins lost a starter in Anibal Sanchez, but gained a lot for him, including the Tigers’ number one prospect, Jacob Turner. (There are debates about whether that was worth it for the Tigers, and I’m actually split on the matter because I don’t think Turner will ever be as good as he was believed to be, but renting Sanchez for two months before he hits the free agent market probably wasn’t worth the price.) In the meantime, they still have many able starters … but none of them are proving able this year. In fact, not one has an ERA under 3.50, which really shows where the major problem is with this team. If your starting pitchers are giving up a lot of runs every other start, then you’re going to lose a lot of games, regardless of how good your offense is. Even Mark Buehrle isn’t performing in any extraordinary way this season, with only a 12-12 record and 3.73 ERA. The Marlins are definitely going to need some pitching help if they’re going to make the most of the offense that’s been assembled.
All things considered, Miami did manage to put together a fairly good offense. They just can’t put it all together at the same time. But at least the pieces are there for the future. Justin Ruggiano leads the team with a .321 average, followed closely by Greg Dobbs and Donovan Solano at .302 and .291 respectively. Consider also that they have a major offensive threat in Giancarlo Stanton, who’s hitting .285 with 31 home runs. That’s a guy that anyone would love to have on their team. So, as I said, the offensive pieces are in place, which makes giving away Hanley and Omar all that more confusing. I understand that when you believe the season is shot, and you ‘re looking toward the future, that you sell off contracts, build up the farm system, and move forward. But this wasn’t a team that was offensively inferior to anyone. In fact, there are many teams that it is in fact offensively superior to.
Like the offense, the bullpen has performed admirably this season, with ERAs well below average levels. Wade LeBlanc has a 1.37 ERA, Randy Choate is at 2.49, and Steve Cishek is at 2.56. That’s pretty good, especially when Cishek is 13/17 in save opportunities. Of course, it’s not so great that they’ve already been through two closers this season, and the first one didn’t work out very well. (Heath Bell is 19/25 in save opportunities, with a 5.56 ERA.) But, for the most part, the Marlins’ bullpen has done its job admirably, keeping the team in games late, and at least allowing the possibility of a win.
Keys to Success
There are none. At least not at this point. The Marlins are officially eliminated in the division race. It’s over, and now it’s time to look forward to next season. As I said, the Marlins have a very solid offense, as well as an adequate bullpen. Buehrle is too good to pitch like that next season, so expect his learning curve to be over. Now they’ll just have to pick up a bit of pitching to complete the picture and hope for a better 2013.