The Most Disappointing Season For…The Miami Marlins (Or Florida, Whatever).
The 2012 Miami Marlins
Record: 69-93 (5th NL East, 13th out of 16 in NL)
Pythagorean Record: 68-94
Runs Scored: 609 (15th in the NL)
Runs Allowed: 724 (12th in the NL)
Prior Season Record: 72-90
Manager: Ozzie Guillen
Hype: The Marlins were moving to a new baseball-only park, with a proven winner of a manager. They signed proven vets in free agency. It was their time.
The Gory Details: The last day of the 2011 season, the Marlins closed down their residency at Joe Robbie (Sun Life, whatevs) Stadium and announced that they had acquired Ozzie Guillen from the White Sox to manage the club in 2012.
A new park, a new manager and new players! Knowing they had Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton as lineup anchors, a decently deep pen, and a couple of pretty good starters in Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez, the Marlins made their move. Noted tightwad owner Jeffrey Loria opened his wallet. The team snagged closer Heath Bell, shortstop Jose Reyes and starter Mark Buerhle. They got good reports on Josh Johnson’s rehab from injury.
They also had a trading chit with former closer Juan Carlos Oviedo, who was Leo Nunez in 2011 but was found to have changed his name and was stuck in visa limbo for a while.
The Marlins were looking great. Showtime picked the club to be in a documentary series The Franchise, knowing Ozzie would be great for ratings. The only question was if Ramirez would cooperate in a move to third base to accommodate Reyes.
They had bigger things to worry about.
The season was just five days old when Guillen basically said “I like Fidel Castro and his beard.” Those are words you don’t utter in Miami, never, ever, ever, ever, ever. Guillen was suspended five days after much hang wringing and gnashing of teeth.
What was worse was the start the Marlins had in April. They were languishing in last, with an 8-14 record. Miami had sold a lot of tickets already, and they needed to contend, lest those tickets go *poof* in 2013.
What was worse is that they had the dreaded West Coast Swing upcoming. What was the most concerning was the expensive Heath Bell had blown three saves already and had a four-digit era (10.80).
But May was a great month. The Marlins went 21-8. The offense was clicking. Heath Bell was effective. Cats and dogs played together. Then after taking two of three in Philly, the Marlins woke up on June 3 tied for first at 31-23. They had a nine-game homestand starting on the 5th. Life was seemingly good.
It was all an illusion.
They scored three runs total in the three games against Atlanta. They were outscored 22-7 by Tampa bay and lost that series. They finally won one against Boston on June 11, but the lost the next two 2-1 and 10-2.
The Fish went 1-5 on the six game roadie that followed, giving up 45 runs. After turning it around against the Phils, Miami went into the all-star break at 41-44, nine games back. What’s worse, Bell blew two saves and lost in walk-off fashion. Plus, there were injuries and ineptitude on offense, especially from the players they didn’t upgrade and deemed “good enough.”
Still, with the wild card, they weren’t out of the playoffs. May proved they could win, right? Guillen put in Steve Cishek to close instead of Bell and hopefully that was enough. Stanton was hurt, but he’s back in a couple of weeks. Let’s hang on and then we can repeat May’s record.
Except never put it past Loria and Company to panic when calm is needed. On July 23, after a five game losing streak, Loria decided to blow the damn thing up. Never mind that Stanton was out, and coming back soon. Burn it down, bitch!
First Anibel Sanchez and Omar Infante went to Detroit for three youngsters. Two days later, Ramirez and a LOOGY went to the Dodgers for two prospects. He then made a couple of relatively minor deals. August 1 came, and the team stripped down halfway for parts, the Marlins were 47-56.
Two more desultory months followed. The Showtime series was broadcast, but the network and everyone else lost interest. Attendance was ‘healthy’ but that was tickets sold. The actual crowds were down to 2011 levels. Fans basically said, ‘Screw it!’ and started to bandwagon the Heat.
Guillen had become sedate (for him) through the losing streak. Of course, instead of managing a team of stars and upcoming talent, he was stuck with Carlos Lee, Greg Dobbs, Donovan Solano and Bryan Petersen. You’d be sedate too with that bunch. The only bright spot was that Justin Ruggiano went out of his mind for three months and hit everything in sight.
The pitching staff was undone by the pen. Only Cishek did exceptional work. The rest followed Bell into the abyss. They needed more upgrades, everywhere.
The offseason was worse for any Marlins fans left. The good news is that they unloaded Bell on October 20.
The bad news is that they fired Guillen after one season because of, reasons. He’s supposed to motivate Chad Gaudin and Scott Cousins to be winners, right? RIGHT?
Then, on November 19th, the Marlins burned the edifice down to the ground. Johnson, Buehrle, Reyes and two other regulars went to Toronto for this, that and t’other. No more splurging, budgets were cut, blame was passed around (but not to Loria).
The telling thing is that after the blow-up, you’d think the Marlins would have reloaded by now. As we know, 2015 was another bad season for them. What’s even worse: none of the players they received back are any more than competent, and only two factor in to be part of the lineup or rotation in 2016. Most are with different organizations or just washed out.
But let’s fire Ozzie. That’ll solve everything.
Chicken Wolf All-Stars: Giancarlo Stanton (5.5 WAR) was head and shoulders above everyone. However, Stanton missed most of July, the month Loria chickened out, as it were. No one else had a WAR above 2.4.
Honorable Mention Team: The 2010 Marlins went 80-82, 17 games behind. In 2008 and 2009 they were in striking distance of the playoffs, with the 2009 record at 87-75. They fired Fredi Gonzalez midway through 2010, because you know, it was his fault they were 34-36.
Bad Blast from the Past: The Marlins, being an expansion team, don’t have a long history, so I’ll go back to the 1885 Buffalo Bison. In 1884, the Bison went 64-47 and had a great core group of Dan Brouthers, Hardy Richardson, Jack Rowe, Deacon White, Orator Jim O’Rourke, and Pud Galvin in the box.
Then in 1885, it went to hell in a handbasket. They went 38-74. O’Rourke had left earlier to go the New York NL team. Galvin was sold midway through the season. Then near the end of the year, Buffalo sold Brouthers, White, Rowe and Richardson to Detroit and folded the team up lock, stock and barrel.
They had to finish out the season in Buffalo, even with almost their entire team gone, so they picked up flakes and frauds, and ended the franchise on a 16 game losing streak, outscored 144-28 in the process, including games of 18-0, 17-2 and 15-1.
That foursome led Detroit from a 41-67 record to 87-36 in 1886, which somehow didn’t win them the NL.