Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dealing With the Marlins' Spring Struggles

March 17, 2011

I'm not going to sugar coat this one, it's no secret the Florida Marlins have struggled this spring. It all started with a heartbreaking 9-8 loss to "The U" (University of Miami). Two losing streaks of 4 and 9 games, respectively have fans, players, coaches, and even the owner worried.

How often do you read harsh quotes from a team owner on March 16. These quotes come from Joe Frisaro's blog. Frisaro is the MLB.com beat writer for the Marlins:




"It's time to kick it into gear, because the switch doesn't turn on the first day of the season," [Marlins owner Jeffrey] Loria told MLB.com after Florida lost 6-3 to the Rays at Roger Dean Stadium. "I'm here 10 days and I haven't seen us win one game."


"I see a lack of energy at the moment, and it doesn't make me happy," Loria said. "We have some extremely skilled athletes here, and hopefully they'll come out of it when the season starts. ... Our players are not ready to play yet."

Look, the bottom line is championships aren't won in March (or April for that matter). However, I was at Tuesday's game in Port Charlotte and the effort was unacceptable. Sure, errors happen, but even minor leaguers don't let 3 of them happen in an inning, let alone Hanley Ramirez.

Also, during the 9-game (and counting) losing streak, the Marlins have been shut-out twice. (a 10-0 loss to the Mets and 9-0 rout by the Twins). This should sound alarms for both the Major eague and AAA clubs. (many of the players at the big league camp will find their way to the AAA roster)

That's not to say there aren't positives to be seen. Chris Volstad had a great outing yesterday, going 5 solid innings. Anibal Sanchez and Javy Vazquez are both doing well despite suffering some minor injuries, and Josh Johnson bounced back from his early struggles. Ricky Nolasco also finally made his first start a few days ago. He will get his second chance on Friday.

Matt Dominguez
But with every positive comes a question mark. Mike Dunn did not look impressive on Tuesday. The outfielders have not had many chances to play together. Will Mike Stanton even be ready for opening day? It seems the only positives are in the infield. Matt Dominguez has struggled with the batting average (.233) but has been impressive. He looks to be the starting thirds baseman, as projected.

Dewayne Wise
The rest of the infield also looks solid, but the outfield yields many question marks as I stated. In my opinion, Dewayne Wise should be the starting center fielder, with Logan Morrison in right and Chris Coghlan in left. Let Stanton take his time coming back. Yes, his bat will be missed, but it may turn out to be a positive. This way, if Stanton comes back in 1-2 weeks and Dominguez starts out in a slump, Coghlan could move to third. OR, Wise could become a late inning defensive replacement.

Time will tell what happens, but the Marlins have to turn up the heat now if they want to have a good April. Today's game is huge. The Marlins need a win as much as any team does in March, if only for a confidence boost. Let's see if they can rally behind JJ and avoid sending the losing streak to double digits.

I welcome your comments on this worrisome situation. Click the "comments" button on the top of this story to give YOUR thoughts on the Marlins recent struggles.

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