11 July 2012
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)