The Miami Marlins find themselves in a very peculiar situation.
The Marlins were one of the hottest teams in baseball in the month of May and now find themselves two games under .500 and near the bottom of the NL East. A lineup that rivals many of their competitors in skill are now fighting to keep ground from the last-place Phillies.
At a time when desperation to save their fairytale season starts to kick in, the Marlins have to set their sights on the future. The excitement for a season that has included opening a new ballpark, a $200 million offseason spending spree and a reality series on HBO has quickly diminished.
Giancarlo Stanton is easily the brightest and youngest star this organization has. Yes, more so than Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson. Stanton is not only one of the biggest young bats in the league—standing at 6'5" and nearly 250 lbs—but also one of the most feared.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com writes:
"Stanton casts an ominous shadow like few hitters in memory. Think back to Frank Howard, Willie McCovey and Willie Stargell in the 1960s and '70s, and on through Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and Gary Sheffield in more recent years. When the pitcher has to worry about lost body parts along with a rising ERA, it alters the dynamic considerably."
It's clear how special of a player Stanton is, especially at the age of 22. He's the future of the Marlins for at least the next decade and could be the face of the league's power hitters now in the post-steroids era.
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was also quoted in the Crasnick article as saying:
"He will hurt somebody before his career is over." I can't imagine people playing the infield in against him. I thought Jim Thome had some power. But this kid has some ridiculous power. I've never seen the ball jump off anyone's bat that much."
There have been no indications that the Marlins are in any sort of contract extension talks with Stanton. He's on track to have his first 30 HR and 100 RBI season of his young career.
Miami spent a ton of money this offseason trying to prove to the league that they are serious about contending. They may still turn things around and contend for a spot in the playoffs this year.
It's not very often a ball club strikes gold with a player of this caliber at such a young age.
If the Marlins are ready to be taken seriously, they must offer Stanton a long-term contract now before he becomes eligible for arbitration after the 2013 season.
Remember the last time the Marlins had a can't-miss power hitting prospect? His name was Miguel Cabrera and they traded him to the Detroit Tigers for six players who are no longer in the Marlins organization.
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