It’s too early to panic about the Miami Marlins and the reason is simple.
There is no appropriate time to panic about this team, whether it’s early in the year or late in the year or smack dab in the middle of what could turn out to be the least-competitive season in the history of a franchise that seems only to exist in the extreme. This is exactly what should be happening for a roster scraped so paper-thin.
Through Wednesday night’s games, the Marlins were playing .200 ball. Project that over a 162-game season and you get something like 32 wins. Even the 1962 Mets, the most overmatched expansion team of all, won 40.
Also, the Marlins, with their major-league worst 3-12 record, stand 9 ½ games out of first in the NL East. Some of that can be attributed to Atlanta’s spectacular start, which has left everybody winded, but let’s be fair and figure that Miami’s losing trend is as dependable as anything in the industry at the moment.
What we’re looking at here is a Marlins team with a great running start toward finishing 60-plus games out of first place when the 2013 season is all said and blessedly done. The previous worst for this franchise was 1998, when the Marlins finished 52 games back of the division-winning Braves.
There are no surprises here. There is no escape, either. The Marlins are getting good pitching from their starting rotation, including two wins from Alex Sanabia, who spent most of last season on the disabled list. Even Jose Fernandez, a 20-year-old rookie, is going great, and gets another shot at victory tonight in Cincinnati. Everything is optimal, in other words, in one of the most vital areas for a struggling team, and still the Marlins are taking on more water every day.
Scratch Giancarlo Stanton from the roster, whether it’s briefly by injury or permanently by trade, and the offense goes from just plain offensive to invisible.
Panic? We have been numbed to the word by Jeffrey Loria’s own knee-jerk reaction in dumping most of his stars last season because Miami wasn’t winning enough.
Never mind that the team went 21-8 in May in 2012, the best month in franchise history. An 8-18 nosedive in June was enough to convince Loria that it was over, that there could be no middle ground, no evening out of the production in the short-term or the long.
Of course, Mike Redmond’s team can’t play .200 ball forever. That 1998 Marlins bunch, the one that went 54-108 for a sweet .333 clip, had an early 11-game losing streak and started out only 4-11 before finding its lumbering stride.
When the goal, however, is to catch up to the caboose in a long line of bad Marlins seasons, then the nightmare has reached its worst. The only thing most potential customers will say now is wake me when it’s completely over in October, and not a minute sooner.