3 Bold Predictions for the Miami Marlins in the Second Half of the Season
One of baseball's cardinal rules is to never make the first or third out at third base.
This type of thinking has the word "safe" written all over it.
Does this mean no one should ever go from first to third on a single to right field? Does this mean the Milwaukee Brewers' Carlos Gomez, MLB's leader in triples, should never stretch a double into a triple when he has the speed to make it work? And why is making the first or third out at third base so egregious when the name of the game is to not make outs at all?
In this cyberspace, you go from first to third on a single to right field, unless you're Bengie Molina. In this cyberspace, you stretch a double into a triple if you've got Usain Bolt's speed. Heck, you are encouraged to stretch a double into an inside-the-park home run if you've got Usain Bolt's speed. In this cyberspace, all outs are egregious.
In other words, this cyberspace sees bold as an opportunity to do what many thought couldn't be done, and playing safe as taking the easy way out.
With that said, here are three bold Miami Marlins predictions for the second half of the season.
The Marlins won't lose 100 games and will win 70
Yup, you heard it here first.
The Miami Marlins will not only avoid 100 losses this season but will also win at least 70 games.
Despite a National League-worst 30-51 record, the Marlins currently have a couple of things going their way.
For starters, after winning just 14 games total in April and May, the Marlins are coming off a 15-10 June, which is the organization's best June since 2009, the last season the Marlins finished with a winning record. The June swoon has sunk the Marlins in each of the last two years, as the Marlins won eight games last June, which came on the heels of five wins in June 2011.
“After April and May, to do what we did in June is great,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond told the Miami Herald. “Are we happy with it? Yes. Are we satisfied with it? No. But you see a different attitude and a different approach out there.”
The Marlins today are not the same Marlins that opened the season three months ago.
Jacob Turner has found himself after struggling during spring training, highlighted by his first career complete game; Nate Eovaldi has effectively returned from a shoulder injury (1-0 record, 2.00 ERA, 18 innings pitched in three starts); and Henderson Alvarez is not far behind as he completed his final rehab assignment with Double-A Jacksonville by throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings Friday.
And that's just the starting rotation.
On the field, rookies Marcell Ozuna (.299 BA, two home runs, 27 RBI) and Derek Dietrich (.213 BA, seven home runs, 19 RBI) have provided a breath of fresh air, while veterans Giancarlo Stanton (.301 BA, five home runs, 13 RBI since being activated off the disabled list) and Logan Morrison (.308 BA, one home run, five RBI in 15 games) have returned to health to provide some pop in the Marlins lineup.
History suggests it might be a tall order for the Marlins to not only avoid 100 losses, but win 70 games, but it's not impossible.
Since Major League Baseball expanded to 30 teams in 1998, the 2000 Houston Astros are the only team to win fewer than 30 of their first 81 games and still manage to accrue more than 70 wins by season's end.
For the Marlins to reach 70 wins, they would need to play .500 ball the rest of the way, which means at least 40 wins. Four teams have managed to win 40 games in the second half of their schedule after winning fewer than 30 of their first 81 games: those 2000 Houston Astros (44-37), the 2010 Baltimore Orioles (41-40), the 2006 Pittsburgh Pirates (40-41) and the 2005 Tampa Bay Devil Rays (40-41).
|Teams that won fewer than 30 of their first 81 games since 1998|
|Year||Team||First half||Second half||Record|
|2004||Kansas City Royals||29-52||29-52||58-104|
|2002||Tampa Bay Devil Rays||28-53||27-53||55-106|
|2006||Kansas City Royals||27-54||35-46||62-100|
|2005||Tampa Bay Devil Rays||27-54||40-41||67-95|
|2003||Tampa Bay Devil Rays||27-54||36-45||63-99|
|2005||Kansas City Royals||26-55||30-51||56-106|
|2003||San Diego Padres||26-55||38-43||64-98|
|2001||Tampa Bay Devil Rays||24-57||38-43||62-100|
Yup, you heard it here first.
A Marlins pitcher will win 10 games by the end of the year
Up until Jose Fernandez's gem against the Padres on Monday, it looked like the Marlins would go through their first full season without a 10-game winner.
Actually, that's still in the realm of possibility.
The Marlins intend to limit Fernandez’s innings this season to no more than 170, according to the Miami Herald, and he's already at 92 2/3 innings despite averaging just 89.1 pitches this season. Halfway through the season, Fernandez owns a 5-4 record, has a 2.72 ERA and has struck out 94 helpless batters.
Frankly, Fernandez is the Marlins best bet to reach 10 wins.
Ricky Nolasco has no chance at double-digit wins with the Marlins because he will be traded. There's a better chance owner Jeffrey Loria will sell the Marlins than for Nolasco to stay in Miami for the rest of this season.
The best way for Fernandez to hit double figures in wins is to string a couple of wins in a row. However, Fernandez has only won back-to-back starts once this season, May 4 against the Philadelphia Phillies and May 10 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. If Fernandez falters, it's highly unlikely Kevin Slowey, Alex Sanabia, Tom Koehler and Henderson Alvarez are up to the challenge. This leaves Jacob Turner and Nate Eovaldi as the only candidates with the slim shot at 10 wins.
As stated earlier, Turner and Eovaldi recently rejoined the Marlins. With half the season to go, Turner and Eovaldi are expected to make about 17 more starts. This means one or both of them would have to pick up the win in half of the starts. Not impossible, but the odds aren't good, either.
The good news, though, is that both pitchers have been very effective.
"This is a totally different guy than we saw in spring training," Redmond told the Associated Press of Turner's latest start, a complete-game win against the Padres on Saturday. "He went down to the minor leagues and worked on things he needed to work on and, wow, this guy has come back to the big leagues and has been outstanding."
Hey, it could happen.
But if not, the Marlins would join the following inglorious list:
Teams without a 10-game winner since 1995
2012: Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies
2011: Minnesota Twins
2010: Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates
2009: Washington Nationals
2008: Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners
2007: Washington Nationals
2005: Kansas City Royals
2004: Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners
2003: Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers
2002: Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
1999: Montreal Expos, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
1997: Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics
1996: Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies
1995: St. Louis Cardinals
Giancarlo Stanton will be traded by the July 31 trade deadline
For about the last eight months, the Marlins have refused to engage in trade talks involving 23-year-old slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Teams such as the Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners have all inquired, and the response they would get from the Marlins is "not interested," according to MLB.com's Peter Gammons.
And now, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports, Loria is hell-bent on winning in the near future to prove he made the right baseball decisions when he tore apart the roster.
It's very noble of Loria for trying to win, but this is absolutely the wrong path to take.
Before the season began, Loria met with a throng of reporters and announced to the world that 2013 was not the season to approach Stanton with a multi-year offer. But even if Loria presented Stanton with a six-year, $110 million contract extension with a no-trade clause, many believe Stanton would reject the overture. Sure, Stanton is under club control until 2016, but there's no point in holding onto a player—even someone as talented as Stanton—who is not a part of the team's future, especially when the team isn't ready to contend for a playoff spot.
By keeping Stanton too long, Loria and Marlins president David Samson might revisit this same conversation they had shortly before they traded Hanley Ramirez last season.
“I can’t believe we haven’t made the playoffs in seven years," Samson told Loria while sitting alongside him during a game, according to the Miami Herald. "We’re really going to have to talk about trading Hanley.”
Loria replied, “I know."
Later, Loria told Showtime's The Franchise: “The team made the decision to let’s try something else. It’s a tough decision for me and all our baseball people. He has been an interesting and spectacular athlete to be around. My baseball people have come to me several times to say we’ve got to do something.
“We can’t continue like this. I’m not sure what’s happened with the chemistry in the clubhouse. It’s not as great as you would like to see it. We had a $95 million payroll, and it hasn’t produced.”
If Loria wants to prove to the world that he made the right decisions, then he must maximize Stanton's trade value. (Stanton currently earns $537,000 this season and won't be eligible for arbitration until after the season). And what better way than to announce to all of baseball Stanton is available.
While some might say an offseason trade might be more beneficial, it might be better to trade Stanton in-season because there will be some teams that will overpay because of desperation, either to make the playoffs or please the fanbase.
Remember, Stanton is not a rental, but someone around whom a team can build, which makes Stanton attractive to every team in baseball. It's just a matter of which teams have the goods (i.e. plenty of young talent with little to no service time) to overwhelm the Marlins with an offer they can't refuse.
Sports Illustrated's Ben Reiter suggests the Pittsburgh Pirates could offer pitcher Jameson Taillon and shortstop Alen Hanson; the Red Sox could offer third baseman Xander Bogaerts and pitcher Matt Barnes; the Rangers could offer shortstop Jurickson Profar and third baseman Mike Olt; the Mets could dangle pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis d'Arnaud; and the Mariners could offer their own pitcher-catcher combination in Taijuan Walker and Mike Zunino.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to Loria. Oy vey.