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Marlins fading fast in 2011: A fan’s take
Once again, Florida Marlins fans are faced with the real possibility of failure for the season.
Sadly, or possibly gratefully, they seem to have been spared having it drawn out toward the end of the year, as they fell 5-1 to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, June 12 to drop two games of the four-game series after taking the opener on Friday, June 10 6-4 behind the impressive pitching of Anibal Sanchez(notes) and an offensive eruption that ended an eight-game slide.
The loss to the Diamondbacks on Sunday saw the Marlins lose 10 of their last 11, and 12 of their last 14, dropping them to .500 at 32-32, seven games back of the NL East Division-leading 40-26 Philadelphia Phillies, whom they'll be heading out on the road to face beginning Tuesday, June 14.
With that in mind, there's the real possibility this tailspin they're in won't end soon.
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez(notes) is set to return from the DL for that series against the Phillies, but won't be available for the final game of the series against Arizona on Monday, June 13, with Ricky Nolasco(notes) (4-1, 3.86 ERA) taking the mound to face off with Zach Duke(notes) (1-1, 2.37 ERA).
Edwin Rodriguez is said to be considering putting Hanley back in the leadoff spot rather than the three-hole where he started the season. Ramirez has struggled mightily throughout the year, batting just .210 with four home runs and 17 RBIs, but was one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball prior to the 2009 season, averaging .311 with 70 homers, 333 runs scored, and 118 stolen bases in that spot.
Hopefully, the return to his roots will spark a resurgence for the inimitable Florida shortstop, but the Marlins will need more than just a hot bat to now climb out of the hole they've dug for themselves.
They're still without the services of their ace Josh Johnson(notes), and while Nolasco and Sanchez have provided solid pitching, Chris Volstad(notes) (2-6, 5.51 ERA) has been shaky at best and Javier Vazquez(notes) (3-6, 7.09 ERA) has been downright atrocious.
There were signs throughout the season Vazquez might be able to turn his year around and get back to the type of pitching he displayed just two years ago when he was with the Atlanta Braves and went 15-10 on the year with a 2.87 ERA, but Marlins fans, and more important, Florida management, need to face facts: Javi simply doesn't have it anymore.
As Florida goes forward, fans can only hope Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest will actually make some upgrades to the team via trade, but even that would require Florida gaining at least some ground on their NL East Division rivals.
A shocking sweep of the Phillies this week could possibly make that happen, especially if Johnson were to return and Ramirez's bat immediately comes alive, but that may just be wishful thinking on the part of a Fish fan.
The more likely scenario would be Florida continuing to struggle the rest of the season and not making any major trades for more talent, relying on beginning next year in their new retractable-roof ballpark by spending the money via free agency to go for a serious postseason run.
That was sadly what some predicted this year would end up being, although I wasn't set to admit it in the beginning, and still hold out some hope the Marlins can prove the doubters wrong. However, if they're going to do so, they don't have much time.
This week will be a true proving ground for Florida, and will likely decide the fate of the Marlins for the rest of the year. Begin to win, and hope may remain. Continue to lose, and those hopes will be dashed.
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All stats and information taken from personal notes and verified at Baseball-Reference.com and Yahoo! Sports.
Read more by Daniel Barber aka Hotnuke at TFS Sports.
*Daniel Barber has rooted for all Miami teams since he was a child or since their inception having been born right above Miami.
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