After an off season that saw the Marlins really open up their check book for the first time in signing Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell, and Jose Reyes and then trade for Carlos Zambrano, their were a lot of high hopes for the newly renamed Miami Marlins. However, with the new stadium, new uniforms, new name, and new players have combined to give the Marlins a disappointing 41-44 first half. A team that many had predicted to go to the playoffs, compete for an NL East title and possibly make a run to the World Series now sits in fourth place in the NL East and is five games back of the second Wild Card spot.
The take out the Marlins superb play in May, where they won a franchise record 21 games in the month, the team has been a disappointment at just about every position. The left side of the Marlins infield has 2 of the last 4 NL batting champions in Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes, but they are hitting .248 and .264 right now. The Marlins had to make a trade for Carlos Lee because after being the Marlins best player to start the year last year, Gaby Sanchez has completely fallen apart in the last year and struggled to get his batting average above .200 this year. John Buck has turned out to be just what I thought a year and a half ago when they signed him, a one hit wonder. While people he is a decent defensive catcher and he does seem to work well with the pitching rotation, the Marlins signed him to a 3 year $18 million deal because of the year he had in Toronto in 2010 when he hit .281 with 20 home runs. While he is good for a home run here and there, Buck is hitting just .176 this year and batted .227 last year. The Marlins have also struggled with injuries as well with Emilio Bonifacio, who was leading MLB in stolen bases, has been out for about a month and a half with a thumb injury and now that he is set to come back on Friday, Giancarlo Stanton went down with a knee injury causing him to pull out of the Home Run Derby, the All-Star Game, and miss the next 4-6 weeks.
Despite leading the ;league in quality starts, and were the only team to only 5 different starting pitchers in the first half of the season the Marlins also have had their struggles on the pitching mound as well. Mark Buehrle being the only starter having an ERA under 4, and only Ricky Nolasco has a above .500 record by going 8-6 in baseball's first half. Hard to believe that a month a go this was arguably the best pitching staff in MLB with only Josh Johnson having an ERA above 4. Then in the bullpen, which was actually a strength of the Marlins last year, fans are actually clambering for Juan Carlos Oviedo (better known as Leo Nunez) to return to the big leagues as the bullpen has been a disaster. Of the relievers who have pitched more than 5 inning so far this year, only Steve Chisek and Randy Choate have ERA's under 4.40 (Chisek is 2.17 and Choate is 2.45). Heath Bell has probably been the biggest disaster of all with 6 of the Marlins 13 blown saves (Marlins are 5th in MLB in total blown saves) and while hs does have 19 other saves, he has a 6.75 ERA and admitted that he is personally responsible for 10 of the Marlins losses this year.
However it is not all bad for the Marlins, they have gotten great play from Omar Infante, Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Ruggiano, and reserve players Greg Dobbs and Donovan Solano. Just looking at the numbers, Omar Infante may have seen a drop in his numbers the last month but he is still batting .290 with 7 home runs, 30 RBI, and 8 stolen bases. Giancarlo Stanton was the one selected member to go to the All-Star game because of the monster numbers he was starting to accumulate with a .284 average, 19 home run and 50 RBI, and one would have expected that Carlos Lee would have been great protection for Stanton in the lineup to start the 2nd half of the season until Stanton got hurt. Then of course the biggest surprise has to be that of Justin Ruggiano. A minor lleague outfielder in the Astros organization that the Marlins traded for after Emilio Bonifacio went down, has bated .390 with 6 home runs and 17 RBI. The only minor silver lining to come out of the fact that Stanton went down the same time that Bonifacio is coming back off the DL is that this means that Ruggiano will still be able to get consistent starts. With Carlos Lee being in the last year of his contract, if Ruggiano continues to perform their is a chance he could be the left fielder from the Marlins next year and the Marlins would move Logan Morrison to first base.
Miami Marlins first half ranking--
- Batting: 1st in Stolen Bases, 20th in Home Runs, 22nd in Slugging %, 24th in On Base %, 25th in Batting Average, 26th in Runs
- Pitching: 1st in Quality Starts, 5th in Blown Saves, 11th in Saves 20th in ERA, 21st in Wins, 27th in Strike Outs
- Fielding: 9th most errors, 19th in Fielding %
The Marlins come back form the All-Star break with a chance to cut into the 9 game deficit in the division with a four game series versus the Natioanls in Miami.
- Friday 7:10 at Marlins Park: Josh Johnson (5-5) vs Jordan Zimmerman (5-6)
- Saturday 7:10 at Marlins Park: Mark Buehrle (8-8) vs Gio Gonzalez (12-3)
- Sunday 1:10 at Marlins Park: Ricky Nolasco (8-6) vs Stephen Strasburg (9-4)
- Monday 7:10 at Marlins Park: Carlos Zambrano (4-7) vs Edwin Jackson (5-4)
Like many baseball fans I was looking forward to seeing Giancarlo Stanton play in the home run derby and in this years All-Star Game, but it does not look like that will be happening. Stanton had sat out the previous couple of games due to some loose fragments in his knee, then today he was replaced in the 3rd after some discomfort in the knee. Then after the game was over Ozzie Guillen announced that Stanton was on his way home to Miami to have surgery on the knee that will keep him on the DL for 2-6 weeks.
Stanton is set to have the surgery Sunday morning at 7am to remove "loose bodies" from his right knee. Thankfully it is not a real major surgery and should take about a hour to preform.
Some what luckily for the Marlins, Bonifacio was already expected to come back up the the Majors after the All-Star game anyways, so he will replace Stanton on the 25 man roster. This also means for the time being Justin Ruggiano, who is the Marlins hottest hitter, will continue to start in the outfield for the Marlins.no comments
While the Marlins were/and still are battling it out with the Brewers the front office was busy making another trade with the Houston Astros. At the end of May the Marlins made a trade with the Astros for Just Ruggiano, now the Marlins have made a trade for first baseman Carlos Lee. Hopefully this trade will work out as well as the Ruggiano one.
The Marlins has agreed to trade minor league third baseman Matt Dominguez and pitcher Rob Rasmussen for Carlos Lee, and the Astros are expected to pay the majority of the $9 million dollars that is owed to Lee this year. Carlos Lee turned down a trade to the Dodgers last week, but seems willing to waive his no trade clause to come to Miami. The 36 year old Lee is in the final year of a six-year $100 million dollar contract.
This move mean that most likely Gaby Sanchez will be sent down to Triple-A New Orleans until September. Overall I'd say this move is a good one for the Marlins if they are able to turn this season around and make it to the playoff. Gaby, although I am a huge fan of my fellow Hurricane, has been a big disappointment this year and has not improved his numbers since coming back from his previous minor league stint. Meanwhile the Marlins are giving up a prospect in Matt Dominguez that will be sitting behind Hanley Ramirez for the next couple of year and still really struggles to hit consistently even in Triple-A. Rasmussen on the other hand is a decent prospect, but it is doubtful he will be more than a number 3 starter when he makes it to the big leagues.
Their is no doubt that Carlos Lee is on the decline (home run total has dropped each of the last four years), but even still he batted .275 last year and is batting .286 this year, which automatically makes him one of the leaders in batting average on the Marlins. Lee still has a little pop in his bat hitting five home runs and 29 RBI in an offense that is 20th in MLB in runs scored (Marlins are 27th), and he should hit nicely in the number four spot in the order offering protection for Giancarlo Stanton.
Possible Marlins Lineup with Lee:
- Jose Reyes - SS
- Hanley Ramirez - 3B
- Giancarlo Stanton - RF
- Carlos Lee - 1B
- Omar Infante - 2B
- Logan Morrison - LF
- Justin Ruggiano/Emilio Bonifacio - CF
- John Buck - C
The Marlins began the month of June by taking 2 of 3 at Philadelphia and then ended the month by sweeping the Phillies in Miami (although technically the final game was played July 1st), unfortunately the Marlins played horribly during the time in the middle. The Marlins are now on a four game winning streak, but they still find themselves now in fourth place and two games under .500 after going 8-18 in June. After a bad month of April and May the Marlins should consider themselves lucky to only be 7.5 games back in the NL East and 4.5 games back in the wildcard, though it is still disappointing since they were in tied for the lead in the NL East at the start of the month.
Unlike April, the Marlins failures were both from the plate and on the mound. The starting pitching, which had been by far the Marlins strength through the first two months, was horrible in June. The Marlins had a 5.25 ERA in June (ranked 14th in NL), an opponents batting average of .275 (ranked 15th in NL), gave up 151 runs (ranked 15th in NL), and had only 176 strikeouts (tied for last in NL). The only starter who actually lowered his ERA was Josh Johnson who went 2-2 in June with a 1.87 ERA and 33 strike outs. The only other starter who had a ERA under 5.70 ERA was Mark Buehrle with a 3.89 ERA, but his ERA was much higher until his last 2 starts where he gave up just 2 runs in 14 innings.
Hitting, however, has been a problem with the Marlins all season. Looking at the lineup at the start of the season it looked like one of the most potent in the NL, but that has not been the case thus far. The Marlins rank 28th in MLB in runs, 25th in batting average, 24th in on base percentage, 24ths in slugging percentage, and 24th in home runs. The one catagory that the Marlins have excelled at is stolen bases, with 71 to lead the majors, and even with that the production has dropped off dramaticly since Bonifacio got hurt.
Then the month of June just exacerbated some of those problems. In the month only one every day player batted over .242, that would be Jose Reyes with a .283 average. For other Marlins players it was a real struggle from the plate; Omar Infante .242, Giancarlo Stanton .242, Logan Morrison .238, Hanley Ramirez .227, John Buck .210, and Gaby Sanchez .189. And even with that the Marlins were not particularly productive in their at bats. Stanton and LoMo leading the team with 5 home runs in the month and only Reyes, Stanton, and LoMo had double digit RBI. Luckily for the Marlins they did get some great production from its role players. Greg Dobbs hit .298 in 47 at bats, Donovan Solano went .320 in 25 at bats, then their was Justin Riggiano who batted .400 in 50 at bats with 12 extra base hits including 2 home runs while only striking out 8 times.
And of course the one final cherry on top of all the bad things that happened with the Marlins had to have been Edward Mujica going to the DL with a broken toe on the final day of the month. The Marlins have recalled Wade LaBlanc, who if you remember was almost unhittable this spring.
The Marlins have now won 5 of their last 7 including 4 in a row and now head to Milwakee for four games, and oddly four of the games are day games.
- Monday at 8:10 - Carlos Zambrano (4-6) vs Zack Greinke (9-2)
- Tuesday at 4:10 - Anibal Sanchez (4-6) vs Marco Estrada (0-3)
- Wednesday at 4:10 - Josh Johnson (5-5) vs Randy Wolf (2-6)
- Thursday at 2:10 - Mark Buehrle (7-8) vs Michael Fiers (3-2)