Last season, after the Miami Marlins traded a bunch of their players to satisfy what we now know was more of a salary dump than a reinvestment of money saved, I released a revised viewing guide for the Fish in light of what was going to be an awful second half. This year, the future is less bright, but the viewing guide is similar, as there are still things to watch here in the 2013 season.
Naturally, Fish Stripes has another official viewing guide to your 2013 Miami Marlins in this second half. In what is sure to be a clunker of a half-season, here are the very best things to look out for this year.
Choosing Your Game
Much like last year, the process of choosing your game is important. Unless you are me, you cannot just watch every Marlins game like it's some sort of habit. Heck, Jeffrey Loria probably doesn't watch every game, and he built this monstrosity. Wait, that sounds like a good idea...
Hold on, hold on, there are steps to determine whether you should watch the Marlins.
Step 1: Check the lineup. Is Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup?
If NO, seriously consider turning off the channel. Remember the month of May? Stanton not being in the lineup is like the month of May this season. Nary a watchable game the whole month, and it's in part because Stanton was not blasting home runs. Go to Step 2 for qualifiers, with a lesser chance of turning on this game.
If YES, move on to Step 2 for qualifiers.
Step 2: Check the starting pitcher. Is it Jose Fernandez?
If YES, then you should definitely be watching. Fernandez is one of the few bright spots on this team alongside Stanton, so you need to be present if he is on the mound. Cannot miss that fastball. Proceed to pre-game preparations.
If NO, then you have a decision to make. If Stanton and Fernandez are not around, turn off your TV. You're young, there will be more Marlins games, spend time with your family. If Stanton is at least present, it's up in the air and your choice. I'd choose to hang out with Fish Stripes, if I were you.
The pre-game preparations are much like last year's, so I'll repeat them here.
All of these are important steps. Ichthyomancy is perhaps the most important Marlins-related game in the business, and that includes the actual Marlins game on television. The Fish Stripes game thread could always use more folks. Finally, the drink is a valuable way to enjoy things you love while the Fish are on TV, destroying your livelihood.
All right, it's game time! What should you look for? Who should you watch? Here are reasons to keep an eye on each Marlins player.
Giancarlo Stanton: Home runs. Hard-hit balls. There's really not much more to Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton than that, at least at the plate. He is a spectacular all-around player, but come on, we're here to see the long ball. Hopefully he delivers 20 more by the end of the year.
Logan Morrison: I'd be on the lookout to see if Morrison can continue his hot streak. At least during the early part of the season, it looked as though he was putting everything together. If Morrison can be the second half of a strong 1-2 punch for the Marlins, you can fully expect to be here next year and contribute in a big way until he is eventually also traded.
Marcell Ozuna: Watch for Ozuna's (hopefully) eventual power surge as he cranks up that strong, smooth swing and puts some more balls in the seats. Also, watch Ozuna's cannon arm, which already should be among the best in baseball. Defense may finally have returned to Miami, and it is starting in the outfield with Ozuna and Stanton.
Derek Dietrich: Watch to see if Dietrich can bring anything but power to his game. He is batting .218 with a .282 OBP, and that is still difficult to watch, even if he is hitting the occasional homer into the lonely right field home run porch. Also, watch all three porch denizens race to try and get to that ball, and think back to the time when you could see that every day in the orange seats over the left field Teal Monster at Sun Life Stadium.
Justin Ruggiano: Provided we are certain that Ruggiano will stick around, watch his eyes as he makes outs on the field. Every time he strikes out, he is probably shifting his gaze to Mike Redmond to see if Red is not already signaling for Juan Pierre to come off the bench.
Ed Lucas: I'd like to see how much longer Ed Lucas can keep up this performance. He is somehow being given a break despite hitting with a .049 ISO. We're talking Bonifacio-level power here folks, though admittedly the walks have been nice.
Placido Polanco: Everyone likes zombies, right?
Juan Pierre: Everyone likes fast zombies, right?
Jeff Mathis: Watch Jeff Mathis do all the little things right on defense, and watch his professional approach behind the plate. Once he gets to the plate with a bat, watch him whittle away all that defensive good will with the bat.
Greg Dobbs: ALL THAT PROFESSIONALISM BABY!
Jose Fernandez: Just watch him, man. Everything Fernandez does, from his elite fastball to that knee-buckling curve, is fantastic. He is the future of this organization, and we can only hope that future is long and bright. And every time you see him pitch, remember the history from which he came.
Jacob Turner: I'm watching to see if Turner can put it all together. He has flashed strikeout potential, but he is not finishing hitters off despite high whiff rates. He has a track record for throwing strikes, but that has not shown yet. If he puts it all together, he could be one dangerous pitcher still.
Nathan Eovaldi: Eovaldi's secondary arsenal still needs work, but I'm intrigued by that fastball. It is currently sitting at 96 mph with not much sign of decline, so I would like to see if that continues or if it was just a mirage at the start before he returns to regular old questionable Eovaldi.
Henderson Alvarez: I'd like to see if Alvarez has anything he can bring to the table. He is striking out more guys, but he's also not getting ground balls, which is supposed to be his forte. His stuff is not good enough to get away with in the big leagues without some hook, but the hook has yet to be seen this year.
Steve Cishek: I'm looking to see if Cishek can continue his strong recent run on the mound, pick up a few more saves for the Fish, and become a prime trade target at next season's trade deadline. Yeah, that's right, I'm already looking forward to next year's trade deadline for the Fish. Closers can get quite expensive, and contending teams are always interested in their prices.
The post-game situation remains the same from last season, so here it is:
Make sure you drink your age-appropriate drink responsibly in the comfort of your couch or bed. Then, if it's a night game, go ahead and turn in and, when you wake up tomorrow, check back in at Fish Stripes for more excellent content and get prepped for the next night's game. As Brain of Pinky and the Brain fame always says regarding our night's activities: "The same thing we do every night, Pinky, try to [see if the Marlins will win a game]!"
I might have gotten that quote wrong, but who cares? Marlins baseball! We (at Fish Stripes) got you covered!!