The Marlins baffle me on many levels. I wonder if they have fans. I wonder if they will be able to sell out the first game in their new ballpark. I wonder if I should feel sorry for the people who follow the team because their owners sell off players at the mere mention of salary arbitration. Then, I wonder if it is possible to feel sorry for a mediocre fan base that has already won two World Series trophies. I’m pretty sure if you put all that information into one of those fancy graphics calculators it would tell you that there shouldn’t be baseball in South Florida. But, there is, and so we’re left to ponder this June the Fish are having. Talk about problems…
There aren’t many places in organized baseball where you could go 1-17, fire a hitting coach, go from 2nd to last in a blink, have your manager resign, and still not create that much buzz. Miami is obviously one of those places. I think most baseball fans know the Marlins are in total free fall, but even I was taken aback at 1-17 in June. I hear the Marlins have won a single game this month and I quickly move my little screen arrow over to the time in the bottom righthand corner so I can verify the date. It’s damn near July. This isn’t hyperbole. The Marlins are colder than Eskimo junk.
The solution for the Marlins looks like it is going to be bringing back Jack McKeon, the 80-year-old cigar devotee, to try to bail water until a more long-term solution can be found. A long-term solution like contraction is apparently not on the table. McKeon is the kind of “baseball man who “baseball men” get all warm and fuzzy about. Born with a fungo in his hands, would rather “talk” baseball than watch baseball, and in retirement is flipping through the baseball package and yelling at the screen. Bringing him in to manage Florida at this point sounds like a made for TV movie plot, but he’s pulled it off before, that time at the ripe old age of 72. I don’t think McKeon will be able to forge a World Series winner this time around, but the Marlins don’t have many options. Taking on the Florida job now would be like taking an internship at Lehman Brothers in 2008. McKeon won’t care, though, because he just misses baseball, and maybe he can be the guy to finally wake up the Marlins this month (Ed’s Note: No F’ing Way).
Looking at what is happening to Florida is certainly a there but for the grace of sporting gods moment, but even in a first place town you’ve still got problems and issues. The problems the Phillies have are a luxury compared to what is happening in Florida, but if a conclusion was to be drawn from the Seattle series (other than the Phils are actually better off facing King Felix than Jason Vargas), it is that a lot of the Phillies problems stem from the fact that they have absolutely no bench. I say that with an apology to Ross Gload, but Gload hardly plays at this point, because it looks like he’s too dinged up to be out there on defense.
Lack of attention to the bench has been a hallmark of the Amaro era. That could be part philosophy, part affinity for signing pitchers to huge contracts, part delusion, I really have no idea, but the combination of Ruben in charge and Charlie managing has been a deadly for bench bats. Did you really think you’d ever long for the days of Todd Pratt or Chris Coste? Hell, Jason Michaels circa mid-2000s would look pretty decent on this team right now. Just about every Phillies problem can be traced back to the bench.
If you want to talk about Polanco being worn out, or the Phillies not being able to hit lefties, or the fact that they have one good defensive outfielder on the whole team? That all comes back to the bench. It’s a part of the team that Amaro ignores or tries to get lucky with. I’ll save another rant against Rule Fiver, Mikey Martinez for now. They hoped John Mayberry could be a right-handed bat off the bench, but then they hamstring themselves there with Martinez. With Gload looking like he isn’t going to play the field, there isn’t a back-up infielder on the team that can homer. The Phils have one of the older teams in the league and they go into the year without an established back-up for two of their oldest regulars (Ibanez and Polanco).
It’s just a bit frustrating, because the lack of a bench manifests itself in other areas. A poorly played ball, an Ibanez at-bat against a tough lefty, Polanco having to sit against a lefty the day before an off day, those are the types of things that wouldn’t be happening if the Phillies had a complete 25-man roster. So, while it is a big picture issue and not a dire one at all, I’d love to see the Phillies address their 5 non-starters before the trade deadline. Speaking of which, we do need to update 5 Tickets to Allentown:
Five Tickets to Allentown (In Remembrance of JC Romero’s Phillies Tenure):
- Michael Martinez
- Dane Sardinha
- Danys Baez
- Ben Francisco
- Raul Ibanez
Note: This is not necessarily my list. I’m just trying to get the pulse. Romero opened up a spot for someone, so San Fran was obviously in. And, with Herndon under the radar a bit, I thought it was time to highlight how much venom there is for Raul in some parts these days. A portion of the fan base seems to ignore every hit this guy gets and just piles on the hate. A large part of it comes from his rapidly declining defensive effort (Metrics say he’s the worst outfielder in all the land). I can’t argue much with that.
Quiz of the Day: Leafy Green Veggies. Category: That’s Edible? My Score: 6/16.