The monkeys are guilty. When we heard that the Marlins had traded Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis this past offseason, we thought that they were giving up on 2008 and retooling for another big run in maybe 2010. 100 losses? Perhaps. Last place? A virtual certainty. So, we are definitely surprised that the Marlins are coming to town just 2 games out and with some reinforcements that could make them a factor as the season nears its final third.
Followers of this blog know that the monkeys had thought Hanley Ramirez was the MVP of the first half. He has struggled so far in the second half (.190, 1 homer and just 2 RBI), but he'll likely go on another hot stretch. The Marlins lead all of baseball in homers playing in what is more of a pitcher's park. Jorge Cantu has a surprising 18 homers. Old friend Mike Jacobs has hit 22 homers (same total as the blazing Carlos Delgado). Dan Uggla has hit 25 making him the most underrated consistent power hitter in the league (27 homers in 2006, 31 in 2007). Matt Treanor's slow recovery from injury has them scrambling for a catcher, but beyond that, the lineup is solid.
The starting rotation had been up and down. Scott Olsen got off to a nice start after a poor season that included some immature behavior. However, he has struggled badly in July with an ERA over 6. Ricky Nolasco doesn't strike fear into most fans yet he has been a solid 10-6. It's the reinforcements that are primed to make an impact for the Marlins. Josh Johnson has returned from surgery throwing 93-94 MPH. While his command is not perfect yet, he has struck out 18 in 17 innings meaning he has good stuff that could get better. Top prospect Chris Volstad has looked good in 4 starts with a 2-1 record and a 2.38 ERA. Finally Anibel Sanchez is set to return and has looked good in rehab starts.
Will the Marlins hang with the Mets & the Phillies? The monkeys are still not convinced, but the Mets play them more than any other team the rest of the way so we'll all get a close look to analyze this further.