Miami Marlins: June Swoon Redux Dooming Postseason Aspirations
Stop me if you've heard this before: the Marlins come charging out the gate to begin the season, they are in the thick of the playoff race, either leading their division or tied for the National League Wild Card, before they drive themselves off a cliff in the month of June.
Yes, June Swoon has made its unwelcome return to South Beach, and it isn't letting up.
How unwelcome has June been for the Marlins lately? The franchise is 18-47 (2-9 in 2012, 5-23 in 2011, and 11-15 in 2010) in their last 65 June games.
In those 65 games, the Marlins have ousted two managers (Fredi Gonzalez and Edwin Rodriguez), and three coaches (hitting coaches Jim Presley, John Mallee and bench coach Carlos Tosca) and promoted or hired their replacements.
For the Miami Marlins, new uniforms, new ballpark, new name, new players and a new manager haven't changed one bit the scuffles this franchise has endured in this particular month, a do-or-die month that determines your place in the populated bull market that is the July 31 trade deadline.
If anything, June Swoon has certified the Marlins are nothing more than a house of cards, getting away lucky in May due to a relatively weak schedule only to hit a wall in June facing postseason-worthy teams (Braves, Rays, Red Sox).
The struggles are obvious. The offense is the primary source of the skid, surprisingly underperforming after expectations were high for a potent offense.
As of Thursday, Marlins are 13th in the National League in runs scored, 13th in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) and 10th in home runs.
Who is to blame for the Marlins struggles?
The Marlins struggle even more when it comes to runners in scoring position, a situation that has limited Miami to scoring no more than nine runs in a game this season. They rank 28th in Major League Baseball (14th in the National League) in RISP.
So who is to blame for this?
For starters, Hanley Ramirez, who on the surface is slowly starting to find himself, is hitting .203 (14-for-69) in these situations and .224 with runners on period. Ramirez is the root of the problems, and he isn't the same run producer he was from 2009-2011. In that span, he hit .317 (116-for-366) with runners in scoring position and .314 with runners on base.
Logan Morrison, who was supposed to provide Giancarlo Stanton with a cushion behind him, is batting .152 with RISP (7-for-46). But what's even more odd about Morrison is that he has drastic day/night splits this season. He is hitting .393 (24-for-61) in day games but just .151 (18-for-119) in night games.
The other problem?
The back end of the lineup, which is good enough to be a Triple-A All-Star team for the New Orleans Zephyrs but barely even be worthy of bench duty on most major league rosters.
It's embarrassing to the point that the Marlins have a pair of pitchers, namely Carlos Zambrano (.174) and Ricky Nolasco (.167), who are hitting better statistically than John Buck (.163) and Chris Coghlan (.140), currently on the 25-man roster.
Gaby Sanchez has free fallen from stardom in a literal sense. He was the Marlins' lone All-Star in last year's All-Star festivities, and now ever at-bat is as torturing for the fans as it is to him (.190 batting average in 137 at-bats).
Yes, the rotation and bullpen have just as much blame here as the offense, but the offense has been the issue since Day 1, and the obvious need for the franchise is to acquire a bat to help this team move forward.
The name that makes the most sense going forward is Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair. LaHair, 29, might become trade bait by Chicago in an attempt to rebuild a thin farm system in a year headed for the cellar. Another name could be Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin, whom Ozzie Guillen knows from their White Sox days.
Both could cost the Marlins at least one of their top five prospects, but we know the organization isn't moving Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich or Adam Conley, unless a deal is too good to pass up.
But for the time being, the Marlins have to weather the storm with what they have and face the elite teams of baseball knowing they come with many flaws on the table.
These upcoming weeks will be a telling tale for what the Marlins may do the rest of the way.
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