The July 31 MLB trade deadline is one week away and for the Miami Marlins organization, a lot more is at stake than a simple acquisition or two. With rumors continuing to circulate, it appears the front office is willingly accepting phone calls and trade offers for many members of the team, including the franchise’s brightest stars.
With a playoff run realistically out of the question, barring an historic surge and multiple colossal collapses, the elementary plan of attack at the trade deadline would be to sell some key pieces to contenders in search for prospects to help the franchise in the future. But for Miami in this circumstance, and on behalf of a Marlins fan base that hasn’t witnessed post season baseball in over 13 years and counting, selling is not the answer.
It’s been a long time since the Marlins last reached the playoffs, 5,021 long days to be exact. On October 25, 2003, Josh Beckett tagged out Jorge Posada to finish off a shutout and MVP performance to officially take down the mighty New York Yankees in the sixth game of the 2003 World Series. Almost a full 14 years later and a new stadium has been built with a new logo and team name debuted.
Now, before you click out of this browser, upset that another sports reporter is claiming a certain team has been out of contention for too long, hear me out. I get it, there are teams that have seen post season droughts last over eight times as long as the current Marlins prolonged post season absence – it could be yours.
We just saw the Chicago Cubs put an end to a 108-year World Series drought and last year’s runner up, the Cleveland Indians, haven’t hoisted a World Series trophy since the Harry Truman administration. That 68-year struggle is just one year shorter than the longest active championship drought in all of sports – the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals hold that honor.
Some MLB franchises have never even won a pennant. The Seattle Mariners haven’t even reached the playoffs since 2001.
Long story short, teams would give an arm and a leg to win a title, let alone make a postseason run – the Marlins should be lucky to have two championships in a short 26-year history, right? All I’m saying is that if the Marlins in the next week decide to have a yard sale and ship away the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and others, the results will be catastrophic.
For those that don’t follow the Marlins, Miami is a potent and streaky offensive club. Currently seventh in the league in hits and fourth in average in 2017, the Marlins on paper have all the pieces to be one of the best lineups in the league, they just tend to scatter their extra base hits, rarely putting together the full force offensive performances you’ll see when you watch the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers take the batter’s box.
Here are the individual pieces. J.T. Realmuto can hit for average with the best backstops in the league and his potential continues to rise. Justin Bour is having his first breakout season, mashing 21 home runs and counting at first base and his future looks bright. Dee Gordon had the steroids issue a few years back but he remains one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, quick enough for 60 stolen bases and a .300 average for years to come. Even JT Riddle has impressed, filling in at shortstop for recently traded Adeiny Hechavarria.
And then there’s the outfield, one of the best units in all of baseball. Giancarlo Stanton needs no introduction for his reputation at the plate; he continues to stun with his Statcast slugging swing and he’s got 238 home runs on his career, each longer than the last. Marcell Ozuna started in this year’s All-Star game – he’s burst on the scene as one of the best all-around hitters in the MLB. And finally, Christian Yelich continues to electrify the Marlins lineup with his sweet lefty stroke, a five-tool player across the board.
The oldest player mentioned above was Bour and he’s just 29 years of age. Plain and simple, the Marlins have one of the better young offensive cores in the big leagues.
The reason for Miami’s struggles however is not the team’s offense, it’s the deficiency in pitching. Of course after last year’s tragic death of ace Jose Fernandez, it’s going to take some time to rebuild a pitching staff that was already lacking the depth needed to contend. Plus, injuries have only made matters worse as starters Wei-Yin Chen and Edinson Volquez have both spent significant time on the disabled list.
With new ownership imminent, I can understand why a fresh start may be appealing; flush out some assets for even younger ones and seek to compete once those players are ready to excel at the major-league level. Major league baseball is a business after all, and a quick triggered one at that. For arguments sake, it’s worth considering a trade of Stanton or Ozuna because their value is sky high right now. Here’s a column from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports should you support that argument rather than mine…
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 24, 2017
But then again, remember what happened the last two times the Marlins had a fire sale?
In 1998, following the team’s first World Series championship, the Marlins did the unthinkable and it took almost no time at all for nearly every single key player from the reigning championship roster to be dealt. Miami would finish the following season with 54 wins.
Then in 2004, a year after defeating the Yankees in the fall classic, their roster was once again dismantled and although 2004 was a winning season, as they say, the rest is history.
If you recall, just a season ago in 2016, the Marlins went on a run and finished a mere 7.5 games out of the Wild Card race. Yes, this season may be a bust, but why throw everything away when it’s clear that the team is close.
Instead of selling at the deadline, here’s my plea to owner Jeffrey Loria or whoever else it may concern. Keep a stronghold on what’s made this young group tick, keep the guys that make Marlins baseball exciting to watch. Then after missing the playoffs, go out and spend some money, sign a couple veteran arms, bolster the bench, the bullpen and the starting rotation and come out swinging in 2018.
Try this fish friendly metaphor on for size: if the Marlins unload at the deadline, the franchise will flounder struggling to stay alive like a sea creature without water. Who knows just how many years it would take to fill up the tank and get this team back in contention.
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