When the Marlins last dramatically changed course it was after the 2005 season. During that era, the Marlins were in a state of limbo, having been rejected by the state in their attempts to secure funding for a new ballpark.
The major overhaul gave the Marlins current members Hanley Ramirez, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez.
The 2008 and 2009 squads showed the playoff potential stemming primarily from rebuilding the team after 2005. But failure to execute on opportunities to improve on the field have hampered any progress; hence, the downward descent the ballclub is on right now.
To say the Marlins have struggled in 2011 is an understatement. Without the bat of a true veteran, the team has felt the consequences. Entering play on Sunday, the team is 7-30 without Hanley Ramirez in the starting lineup—a vast difference from the 50-39 clip when he is in it.
In 2010, the Marlins' horrible bullpen did them in, but the root of that was the lack of an aggressive offseason, which included missing out on Aroldis Chapman and debating on whether they should keep Josh Johnson or trade him.
Loria and the front-office brass chose to stay the course with their squad. Only after being reprimanded by Major League Baseball and the players union did they retain Josh Johnson and Dan Uggla.
The 2010 season was an example of a ship beginning to show wear and tear for not receiving proper maintenance. The front office chose not to address the bullpen and kept their focus on the manager, which was dumb. After firing Gonzalez, the team showed no progress, going from 34-36 to 80-82 and making a downward climb.
After a disappointing season, the Marlins seemed to change course. They were intrigued by Michael Young from the Rangers and even Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks, but again they failed to execute either move.
Fast-forward to the present day.
The Marlins are The Endeavour from the Pirates of the Caribbean, with the Braves playing The Flying Dutchman and the Phillies playing The Black Pearl in At World's End. They are being destroyed game by game; key members Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez have already been casualties. Additional players (Randy Choate, Logan Morrison, Omar Infante, Mike Stanton) have suffered injuries this season as well. Simply put, they are holding on for dear life.
Morrison is already overboard and treading in the minor league waters as the front office looks for him to change.
Clearly, the Marlins have gone nowhere in the last two seasons. They've added reinforcements to some parts of the ship, but they've subtracted the speed factor (Maybin) and firepower (Uggla), which won't get them anywhere fast.
What the Marlins need to realize is that the road has only gotten steeper; it's not like they are knocking on the doorstep of any of these powerhouse ballclubs (Phillies and Braves).
It doesn't look like much subtraction will take place this offseason. Maybe the team will get rid of the inconsistent pitcher (Chris Volstad) or the shaky closer (Leo Nunez), but those should be the only cast offs.
In the arrival terminal, for their sake and the sake of the fans when they are situated in the brand new ballpark, the faces of Ozzie Guillen, C.J. Wilson, Edwin Jackson, Mark Buehrle and others have to be within their grasp.
There are no more excuses. Sure, they're getting a clean slate of sorts with a chance to get fans to stick in a closer and more comfortable environment, but fans have to enjoy watching them in order to come out in support for the team.
In a way, these injuries are all but a perfect signal that the team is flawed in various ways (lack of rotation depth, a reliable veteran bat, deep bench). The offseason is in store for a serious makeover, including a new uniform, name, and logo. It's the perfect opportunity to start over and erase the perceptions that have been clouding over the franchise.
The Marlins can no longer afford to get their fans' hopes up and not deliver. In a time where the Heat are locked out, the Dolphins are in store for another disappointing season, the Panthers are among the unluckiest of teams in all of sports and the Hurricanes are stuck on an NCAA chopping block, the Marlins have the perfect opportunity to repair their image.
After a pair of dismal seasons and managerial changes, let's hope the Marlins learn a lesson: to add on to their roster without any fear of the long haul. Rome wasn't built in a day. Let's hope the Marlins can take that saying with a grain of salt.