Jose Reyes was the biggest signing of the offseason for Marlins but has yet to catch fire.
You'd think that would be a terrible term from anyone's perspective but for the Miami Marlins it's something they can only hope for from a lineup that has lacked the sizzle that was expected from the offseason. It hasn't, and almost a month through the season, the Marlins lineup is full of frozen fish.
Starting at the top, Jose Reyes has yet to embody the Reyes of last season where he dominated, particularly from the start and all the way to through the All-Star Game. Reyes is currently hitting .217 and has a mere four stolen bases, which is expected when you don't get on base.
Emilio Bonifacio, who at this time last season was barely cracking the starting lineup, is hitting .277 with a .373 on-base percentage. Yet, despite suggestions on possibly flip-flopping the pair, Ozzie Guillen has stayed the conservative approach, telling reporters (via The Sun-Sentinel):
“Right now, it’s kind of pushing the panic button. I’m not panicked. This guy is a premier hitter. He’s going to be my guy. I think about it, but just leave him there a few more days and see how that works.”
In case you were wondering, Reyes has shown to be effective batting second, hitting .317 with two home runs and 10 RBI in a marginal sample size of 183 at-bats.
Bonifacio has been better in his career hitting leadoff. Over the last three seasons (2009-2011), he has hit .287 (214-for-746), slugged five home runs and drove in 42 runs. The brunt of his production came after his surge midway through last season but it shows the ability he has to man the leadoff spot comfortably.
Besides the spark plug being on ice, the heartbeat of the order, with the exception of Ramirez (.234, four HR, 12 RBI), has been just as cold this season.
In fact, Omar Infante has as many home runs (five) as Hanley Ramirez (four), Logan Morrison (one), Gaby Sanchez (zero) and Giancarlo Stanton (zero) have combined entering play Thursday.
I've joked around on Twitter by saying Giancarlo Stanton is an imposter and Mike Stanton and the beast he was is being tamed at the moment. Here is the my mild-mannered attempt to create a meme for Stanton amid his struggles:
One has a chin beard, the other doesn't; hmmm. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would be proud of Giancarlo being able to tame his alter-ego, the majestic hitting beast this team needs.
Fixing the lineup would not be a panic move; every team must conform with how hot or cold their team is.
For instance, Stanton has wavered in critical spots of the lineup, hitting .225 and .205 respectively when batting in cleanup and fifth spots in the lineup. However, that all changes when hit bats third (.279, nine home runs, 15 RBI in 86 at-bats) or sixth (.305, 26 home runs, 59 RBI in 325 at-bats).
The Marlins bats have frustrated the pitching during the four-game losing streak, scoring only four runs. Their starting pitching, a weakness last season, has performed exceptionally well to start the season (via ESPN):
To date, the botched run at Cuban phenom Yoenis Cespedes has hurt them (.269, five HR, 18 RBI) and not pursuing 20-something slugger Prince Fielder (.328, two HR, eight RBI) when you targeted an older slugger in Albert Pujols (.222, zero HR, four RBI) for $200 million has come back to bite them.
Yes, we are only 17 games through the season and we all know what happened in 2003 and in 2011, a tale of two different ballclubs.
In 2003, the Marlins struggled to a 21-29 start through 50 games and were barely a blimp on the playoff radar. In 2011, the Marlins started off 30-20 and were leading the Wild Card and having occasional trips as a division leader before they had a tremendous collapse, finishing 42-70.
And yes, you may laugh and mock me when the Marlins do begin to get hot, but this frozen offense has been this way since spring training, despite the glaring fact Morrison and Stanton had a combined 36 at-bats.
The front office knew this offense could have used an extra bat, and now they are seeing why.
I wouldn't worry, not yet anyway. This lineup has potential and there is still five months left to prove it. But the Marlins front office can only blame themselves if it doesn't work, remember, they wanted one more slugger in this lineup and didn't pony up the money on the right guys.