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MLB Team Report - Miami Marlins - INSIDE PITCH
On June 10, the Miami Marlins were 34-30 and just a half-game out of first place in the National League East.
After getting swept by the New York Mets on July 13 in an ugly 9-1 loss, the Marlins are 44-50. With the loss, the Marlins fell from third to fourth place in the National League East, behind the Mets, and head into the All-Star break on a four-game losing streak.
The Marlins are now 7 1/2 games out of first place.
Michael Hill, the Marlins' President of Baseball Operations, said that he and his staff are looking to make trades that will get his team back into the playoff race.
But not just any deal will do, Hill said.
"A rental really doesn't help," Hill said.
Translation: The Marlins are looking to deal only if the player they get would be under their control for more than just the rest of this season.
Potential targets are starting pitchers and a second baseman, especially one with speed who could bat leadoff.
Regardless of this recent slump and any possible trades, the Marlins have been competitive this season, especially compared to last year's 100-loss disaster.
They are 21-16 in one-run games, placing them second in the majors in the total number of such efforts.
"I'm happy with our effort," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "We are a resilient group. We've taken a bunch of tough losses, especially on this road trip.
"We're a much better team than last year, but we have a lot of young guys. Sometimes, we lose sight of that."
So, what can we expect in the second half?
Anything is possible, of course, but it is hard to imagine the Marlins making the playoffs this year.
Realistic Marlins fans are hoping for a season that finishes at or near .500.
More important would be continued individual improvements of certain young, core players such as right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, center fielder Marcell Ozuna, left fielder Christian Yelich, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Nate Eovaldi and Tom Koehler.
MLB Team Report - Miami Marlins - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost four
FIRST-HALF MVP: RF Giancarlo Stanton is tied for the National League lead in homers (21) and atop the NL chart in RBIs (63) -- and doing so while playing in a pitchers' park. Stanton is the lone Marlins batter whom opponents consistently pitch around. Stanton, who can become a free agent after the 2016 season, is the Miami player most general managers around the league would most want to acquire. Besides having enormous power and strength, Stanton is tremendously improved on defense, and his batting average is up nearly 50 points from last season. In addition, he has very good speed and baserunning instincts for a power hitter as well as a solid arm.
FIRST-HALF GRADE: B-minus -- The Marlins limped into the All-Star break having lost four in a row, but let's put it into perspective. Miami won only 62 games all of last season. This year, the Marlins already have 44 victories. They are a vastly improved team -- and that is without RHP Jose Fernandez, who is out for the year due to Tommy John surgery. The Marlins missed on some of their decisions, most notably at second base, where they gambled on aging 2B Rafael Furcal, who was unable to stay healthy. The back end of the rotation also was a problem. Overall, though, the team is making progress.
PIVOTAL POST-BREAK PLAYER: 3B Casey McGehee is huge to the Marlins' second-half hopes because he bats cleanup, right behind RF Giancarlo Stanton. McGehee, working on a one-year contract after playing last season in Japan, was a key find for Miami. He enters the break with 115 hits, and if he can continue to play well, the Marlins could perhaps hang around on the fringes of the playoff race. If he slumps, Stanton would get even fewer pitches to hit, which would be a bad blow to the offense. McGehee has just one homer this season, but he is hitting a team-high .319 with 53 RBIs and is playing solid defense.
BUY OR SELL: The Marlins could be interested in being bargain buyers to try to improve this year's team. They made such a move last month when they acquired RHP Bryan Morris from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a draft pick. Since the trade, Morris has a 0.40 ERA in 18 appearances spanning 22 1/3 innings. If things stay about as they are, the Marlins could make similar low-budget moves. However, a losing streak before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline could turn the Marlins into sellers, but the franchise would run the risk of alienating a large portion of the fan base that is already wary of team ownership following previous sell-offs.
INJURY STATUS: The Marlins are relatively healthy at the moment. They are expecting RHP A.J. Ramos back shortly after the All-Star break, and that will surely boost the bullpen. Second basemen Derek Dietrich and Rafael Furcal are also on the disabled list. Furcal contributed next to nothing this year due to an assortment of hamstring and groin injuries. The end of his career appears very near. Dietrich is at the other end of the spectrum in terms of his career. He has the pop in his bat to seize the position, but he struggled defensively this season.
TOP PROSPECT: LHP Andrew Heaney, 23, made his major league debut this season but proved that he was not quite ready. He is still the Marlins' top prospect and one of the best left-handed minor-leaguers in all of baseball despite going 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA in four big-league starts. Heaney is back at Triple-A New Orleans, and there is no defined plan as to when to bring him back. Things could change if Heaney gets back to form in the minors. At the least, Heaney figures to be back in the majors in September when rosters expand.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Hopefully, we can win some more games and get back in the (playoff) race. I don't think we are out of it by any stretch of the imagination. You've seen teams get hot and thrust themselves back into the race." -- Marlins' President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill
MLB Team Report - Miami Marlins - ROSTER REPORT
--2B Derek Dietrich (right wrist strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 2. He took 10 dry swings July 11.
--RHP A.J. Ramos (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 27. He threw a bullpen session July 11. He began a rehab assignment with Double-A Jacksonville on July 14, and he is expected back shortly after the All-Star break.
--2B Rafael Furcal (left hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list June 22. He began jogging lightly July 8.
--RHP Carter Capps (right elbow strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 4. He got a second opinion June 4 on his ailing elbow from Dr. James Andrews, who agreed with team doctors that Capps didn't need surgery but needed at least four weeks of rest.
--RHP Jose Fernandez (right ulnar collateral ligament tear in elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 10, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 1. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery May 16. He had the cast and stitches removed May 27. He could begin throwing in mid-September. The timetable for his recovery is 12-18 months.
RHP Nathan Eovaldi
RHP Henderson Alvarez
RHP Tom Koehler
LHP Brad Hand
RHP Steve Cishek (closer)
LHP Mike Dunn
RHP Bryan Morris
RHP Chris Hatcher
RHP Jacob Turner
RHP Kevin Gregg
LHP Dan Jennings
RHP Sam Dyson
1B Garrett Jones
2B Donovan Solano
SS Adeiny Hechavarria
3B Casey McGehee
INF Jeff Baker
INF Ed Lucas
INF Justin Bour
LF Christian Yelich
CF Marcell Ozuna
RF Giancarlo Stanton
OF Reed Johnson