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The View from the Cellar

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After last night's loss, the Marlins find themselves in last place. Well ? they're in a tie for it.

DFA'ing Al Leiter didn't shake things up. Jack McKeon's pre-game meeting, where he called for the team to start scoring runs early in the game (this was a new concept to the team?) didn't accomplish much (though they did score). Maybe Jack's talk was too effective, as the pitchers took the run scoring mantra to heart.

What's to make of this team? I still don't know. But the team we've seen over the past five games (the Cubs series and last night's game) sure doesn't look like a pennant contender. At this point, my hope is that they sell.

Reasons for optimism:

  • Juan Pierre has surged of late. His July line: .348/.400/.522 ? that's the JP we know. Oh ? and seven steals and 11 runs in 11 games.
  • 18 of 25 games at home between 7/26 and 8/22
  • Maybe Scott Olsen and Jason Vargas really have it.
  • Ismael Valdez should be back soon. Rehab reports are encouraging.
  • Al Leiter is gone. Replacement innings have to be better.
Reasons for pessimism:
  • Players who traditionally perform better in the first half than the second: Dontrelle Willis (16-6, 3.15 pre-break, 8-11, 4.30 post-break), Paul LoDuca (.315/.371/.452 pre-break, .236/.288/.334 post-break), and Mike Lowell (.296/.369/.562 pre-break, .260/.330/.406 post-break). The stats are what each player accumulated in the second half between 2002 and 2004. If those trends hold up, I'm not sure where the spark is going to come from. Those are three key cogs in the Marlins machine.
  • What were we thinking coming into the year? There was talk (myself included) of A.J. and Beckett combining for 40 wins this season. So far this year, they've combined for 13 wins. The most they've ever combined for (using their career highs, although they came in different years) is 21 (9 from Beckett and 12 from Burnett). At some point ? like now ? we have to realize these guys aren't young prospects anymore, they're established major leaguers. They just haven't delivered on everyone's expectations. They're just fine as big leaguers, but they haven't gotten the results that everyone thinks they're capable of.
  • 9: That's the number of times Beckett has been on the DL in the past four years. Actually, it's 9 and counting.
We're going to find out a lot about this team in the coming weeks and months. We'll see if the team can pull itself together and compete for a playoff spot. We'll see if they fade into Bolivia. If they do fade, we'll get to see who packs it in and who plays hard after the team falls out of contention.