As the regular season winds down, 22 teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.
Meanwhile, the fans of those squads are looking at the prospect of spending the winter without the warmth of a postseason appearance. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're asking a blogger from each team to write a cathartic missive to their disappointing 2010 lineups.
Up next is David Hill from Marlins Diehards, a man who has become resistant to the hypnotizing effect of thousands of empty orange seats.
Dear Florida Marlins,
I think you know where this is going. Ever since that magical autumn in 2003 — was it really only seven years ago? — we've gone through the same song and dance. Despite my cautious optimism heading into the season, I find myself yet again lamenting another crawl into October.
I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised, though. All the projections pegged you as a .500 ballclub, and at 77-79 through Monday, you've almost performed exactly as expected.
Even so, for a team with a top-three position player and dynamic front-of-the-rotation starter, I can't say I wasn't hoping for something more. But after trading Jorge Cantu, allowing Cody Ross to be claimed off waivers, and suffering a seven-game losing streak earlier this month which officially locked you out of the playoffs, I would be foolish to allow this charade to continue. We're through for now.
The Good Times: We did have some fun together. While the rest of the country was riveted by Stephen Strasburg(notes), we finally got to see how Mike Stanton(notes) would fare against major league pitching. He didn't disappoint, hitting 20 home runs in just over half a season and justifying the fanboy adoration we cultivated for him in spring training. Logan Morrison(notes) and Gaby Sanchez(notes) also put up fine rookie campaigns of their own. Morrison showed promise with a .868 OPS in 250 plate appearances and Sanchez posted a respectable .805 OPS. This trio of rookies gives us hope for the future.
Ace pitcher Josh Johnson(notes) did everything he could to earn the fat contract he signed in the offseason, posting a 6.2 WAR and striking out the indomitable Ichiro in the All-Star Game to boot. Hanley Ramirez(notes) and Dan Uggla(notes) put up their usual good numbers, of course, even if Hanley was slightly less productive than in past seasons. And though I still don't buy the justification for throwing at the man a second time, your brawl with Nyjer Morgan and the Washington Nationals was a welcome distraction from another late-summer swoon.
The Bad Times: We went through some dark periods. The Hanley Ramirez hustle fiasco managed to make just about everyone in the organization look bad. It probably helped seal the fate of poor Fredi Gonzalez, fired for the crime of not getting an average team to overperform enough (and for the record, don't think I'm still not mad that you ignored my advice to not hire a manager in his place). Between those two events and the aftermath of the leaked team financial documents, my favorite team spent its fair share of time as a target of derision this year (even though you deserve credit for outswindling Miami politicians at their own game, no easy task).
Elsewhere, Ronny Paulino's(notes) PED suspension remains unexplainable. Things got so bad that reigning Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan's(notes) season ended in a walkoff celebration mishap. Indeed, starting the season off with a horrific tune penned by Scott Stapp was the worst kind of foreshadowing.
It's Not All You: I know what you're thinking. It's not all your fault. There was the Twitter curse, as four of the five Marlins on Twitter (Chris Coghlan, John Baker(notes), Brett Hayes(notes), and Logan Morrison) suffered freak injuries at one point this season. Ricky Nolasco(notes) and Chris Volstad(notes) certainly did not have the seasons we expected from them, following up each great outing with a disappointing effort. And who knew building a bullpen on a pauper's budget would blow up in your face the way it did? Spare me. You're only preventing yourself from learning from that mistake.
Shape Up or Ship Out: I'm going to say something that few Marlins fans (save for one) care to admit. You will be tempted to sign Dan Uggla to a contract extension. And I can see why. But as much as I love the guy, he is on the wrong side of 30, and frankly, the dude belongs in the American League, where he can mercifully avoid playing defense. So instead of dropping $10 million a year on a second basemen about to hit a potentially painful decline, maybe you can spend a few bucks on some relief pitching. I know Josh Johnson (who only notched 11 wins despite a 2.43 FIP thanks in no small part to the seven saves blown by the bullpen in Johnson starts) will appreciate it. But don't do something crazy like trying to sign Kevin Gregg(notes). We know how Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill like finding gems out of the scrap heap. Let them do their thing.
Finally, it's time we discard the misguided belief that Emilio Bonifacio(notes) is worth a roster spot on a Major League team. For reals, he's not good (career OBP .306), and he almost killed Logan Morrison that one time so at this point he is only a danger to the team. Feed him to the sharks already.
See you next April,
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Follow Dave on Twitter — @dave6834
Read Big League Stew's previous Dear John letters here.