The Miami Marlins have been damaged by injuries, and the team was already damaged to begin with talent-wise. Since the start of the season, the Fish have featured 14 different lineups in 15 games, and those changes can not only be attributed to small switches in batting orders by a tinkering Mike Redmond, but also by injury necessity. Before spring training, the Marlins put Logan Morrison on the disabled list. Right before the season began, the Marlins shelved Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez on the DL as well. A few days into the campaign, the Fish lost Morrison's first base replacement Casey Kotchman, and that was after the team already lost their other potential replacement, Joe Mahoney, during spring training. Then Giancarlo Stanton, Austin Kearns, Justin Ruggiano, and now Adeiny Hechavarria have all missed time with injury.
The fact that the Marlins have to run inferior talent like Chris Valaika and Greg Dobbs is not helping the Fish perform well on the field. But the replacements have not played too poorly, or at least not any worse than their starting counterparts. Aside from losing a struggling Stanton, most of the injuries really have not been felt significantly performance-wise for the Fish.
What the Marlins do lose with all of these injuries is time. In particular, the Marlins are losing evaluation time for their young players by having them unavailable thanks to injury. The Fish do not need to evaluate Stanton, as he is a mosty known commodity, but a number of other injured players were key members of the 2013 Marlins whom the team wanted to test full time. Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez were both listed as keys to success before the season began, but both needed time to work out kinks in their performance. The Marlins would have appreciated as much major league time for these players as they could get, but now both will lose one month of the regular season with shoulder injuries.
Logan Morrison's injury has robbed him of time to prove himself and the Marlins time to evaluate his value heading into his first arbitration season. Thanks to the ongoing knee issues that began in the previous offseason, Morrison's time as a Marlin may be running out. With less time to evaluate the struggles of Morrison's game at the plate, the already-difficult decision regarding Morrison's future is now even harder.
The latest injury to a young, promising key to success is Hechavarria, who may miss the road trip thanks to an elbow injury. The Marlins cannot afford significantly lost time for Hechavarria for on-field reasons as well, as the team has practically no depth in the middle infield and shortstop, but Hechavarria's lost time also hurts them developmentally. The Marlins needed time to afford Hechavarria to face major league pitching and adjust his poor plate discipline, and if he misses significant time with an elbow injury, it could contribute to throwing off his already weak approach.
A similar problem occurred with Stanton's missed time. I have discussed Stanton's struggles with the strike zone before, and I posited that the Marlins slugger just needs time to adjust to a new, more extreme approach against him at the plate. Well, Stanton has missed six games of potential adjustment time, and he has to return to live play tonight versus the Cincinnati Reds and is expected to jump right back in with no problems. He was having issues adjusting before, and the six-game hiatus cannot have helped him see borderline pitches any better. That game time could have been useful to the team above and beyond his actual performance.
No, the Marlins are not playing for anything in terms of 2013 wins, so none of the actual performance lost matters in a win-loss sense. But the Marlins are playing to evaluate their various pieces before the wave of prospects arrives in the coming years to help make this team competitive. The team will want the right pieces in place when that happens, and the early injuries are only taking time to determine who those pieces are away from the Marlins.