Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Marlins Hopes Fading

Unsurprisingly, the Marlins have finally started to fade out of the playoff picture. All of the weaknesses of their roster have finally caught up to them, leaving fans legitimately disappointed considering the recent resurgence of their young pitching staff.

Considering the fact the Marlins have already surpassed my preseason expectations (69 wins as of writing, when I projected them to win 68), I guess I should be happy that they gave us this much competitive baseball. We also can't forget that they technically aren't out of the hunt, being 7 games back of the surging Mets. It's still highly unlikely, but I suppose they aren't quite dead yet.

And I think it's safe to say that the Marlins' run the first half of this season would have easily been the story of the 2008 MLB season were it not for the Rays up north looking to win the AL East title and maybe locking up the best record in the AL. I was never quite sure how the Fish managed to piece together such a good record despite their poor pitching, poor defense, and lack of contact hitting.

But right now they are sitting at around 500 ball, having seemingly regressed to the mean and not looking to recover. We have to give it up to the players and the front office for producing so much from so little, but it is still hard to ignore the obvious problems this team has. Defense and pitching are a priority in the Bigs and we don't have much of that going for us. Our starters are young and doing well, but the bullpen has struggled at times and Kevin Gregg leads the majors with blown saves.

The biggest problem of course is that our payroll will forever be limited, even with a new stadium. This market just doesn't support having those big 100 million dollar payrolls. And while it is always possible to win without the big stars, it sure helps to be able to afford that big chip to fit in a needed position. It is also nice to be able to keep your homegrown talent after they become ineligible for arbitration and become full fledged free agents. I hate seeing Miguel Cabrera in a Tigers uniform.

What they need to do now is bring up all the young talent they have and give them legitimate shots to earn starting jobs for the 2009 season. Cameron Maybin is a strikeout machine but we have to see at some point what he can do in the major leagues. Try out some of our younger prospects in the infield, seeing as how Hanley has to be moved to the outfield at some point and the front office has made no attempt yet to lock up Dan Uggla.

Whatever they do, it has been a nice run for Marlins fans. They should have some decent enough hopes of breaking 500 next season, and look for this squad to be poised for a playoff run in 2010.

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