For his own sake, let's hope Giancarlo Stanton was keeping track of his team during his month on the disabled list. If he was not watching the Marlins, he would have had quite a shock before his return last night.
The All-Star right fielder had minor knee surgery and hadn't played since July 7. On that day, the underachieving Marlins were two games under .500 but only 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. Essentially a well placed trade and a winning streak would put the talented Fish right in the playoff hunt.
What a difference four weeks made.
As Stanton himself said in the Sun Sentinel, "It's a new clubhouse for the most part." He was not kidding.
The Marlins went 8-17 in his absence and went from chic pennant pick and Showtime TV subject to yet another rebuilding season, only this time with an ugly moving statue in center field.
Hanley Ramirez, the most recognizable face on the team, was gone. So was the other big piece in the Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell deal, Anibal Sanchez. 2011 All-Star Gaby Sanchez was sent to Pittsburgh. Reliever Edward Mujica and infielder Omar Infante are gone as well.
So is any excitement in South Beach for baseball.
Yahoo Sports Jeff Passan thinks there is a gigantic con going on in Miami regarding ownership and swindling money from the good folks of Florida.
Maybe it was just a team that was over-hyped at the beginning.
Now Stanton is back and wasted no time showing what he is capable of. He drove in a run in his first game back this Tuesday during the Marlins victory over the Mets. In last night's game, he went 4-for-5 with a pair of homers as Miami crushed New York, 13-0.
The team may have ditched its lofty 2012 goals, but Stanton has shown why there could be reason for those mechanical fish could be dancing a lot soon.
Jose Reyes is, as of this writing, in the midst of a 26-game hitting streak and is starting to earn his money.
And perhaps Hanley Ramirez, as talented as he was, needed to move on. He was the National League MVP runner up in 2009, but his numbers have been in steady decline with everyone wondering when he will rebound.
Maybe he will never be that caliber of player again. Forget batting titles. Ramirez has not finished a season above .250 for the last three years. And his OPS has shrunk each season and his OPS+ has hovered around a mediocre 100.
Twenty-one-year-old Jacob Turner came over from Detroit in the Sanchez and Infante deal is a top pitching prospect.
Twenty-three-year-old Zack Cox was considered one of the top minor league third basemen by Baseball America before the season began. He came over in the Mujica deal.
Marlins fans might be tired of hearing about young kids and the future. But the ruins of the 2012 season could lead to immediate dividends in 2013.
There is a core on this team. In the end, as easy as it is to blame the ownership for this dismal and disappointing season, they should be praised for not throwing good money after bad this year out of pride.
And lest we forget, Stanton is only 22 years old. He may be surveying the ruins of 2012. But that new clubhouse
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