Monday, May 6, 2024

As The Marlins World Turns

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

The last Miami Marlins game that I attended was on Sunday, April 14, 2024 when the Atlanta Braves scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to earn a 9-7 triumph.

What a difference a few weeks makes.

When you keep scoresheets, you never know the last time you’re going to see the player and my latest one will hit a frame and go into my office.

Why is that the case?

It’s simple. 

This was the last time that I saw last year’s National League Batting Champion Luis Arraez in the Miami line-up. During this game, he had one hit in five plate appearances.

This was a game that saw Jake Burger leave the contest with a left oblique injury and starting pitcher Jesus Luzardo was fortunate that despite giving up five runs, he got a no decision.

After this game, the Marlins dropped to 3-13.

The following series saw the San Francisco Giants win it 2-1 from April 15-17. The Marlins hit the road and played four contests on Chicago’s Northside and earned a 2-2 split with the Cubs from April 18-21. The Braves proceeded to sweep Miami (3-0) from April 22-24 in Georgia. 

The Washington Nationals are a team that Miami has fared well against in the past but this didn’t prove to be the case from April 26–29. The team based out of the Nations Capital earned a 4-0 sweep. 

But when you play a team that’s struggling as the Colorado Rockies are, you hope that you can find a few wins and Miami did just that earning a 3-0 sweep in a series that was played from April 30-May 2. The Marlins bats came alive as the Fish earned 7-6, 4-1 and 5-4 wins.

Could the Marlins keep the momentum going in their final series at the Oakland Coliseum vs the A’s? The answer was no as Oakland managed to win the series 2-1. Oakland mustered up a 3-1 and 20-4 wins while the Fish won the finale on Sunday 12-3.

During this series, for which the Marlins left the Bay Area with a 10-26 record, we found out very quickly whether the Marlins were going to be buyers or sellers.

Marlins President Peter Bendix went on record saying the team is unlikely to make the playoffs this year. He wasted  no time moving his best player as he sent Arraez to the San Diego Padres for outfielders Dillon Head (19) , and Jacob Marsee (23), reliever Woo-Suk Go and first baseman Nathan Martorella (23). 

The Marlins are paying Arraez’s contract down to the minimum in the deal, a source told ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez. Arraez is making $10.6 Million this season and is arbitration-eligible in 2025.

So the question is, why would the Marlins make the trade in May instead of at the trade deadline?  According to Bendix, moving the 27-year old Arraez now instead of later in the campaign enabled him to get a bigger prospect package.

With Arraez hitting .354 last season, along with 43 extra base-hits in 147 games, this propelled the Marlins to get into the playoffs in 2023. He’s off to another productive start at the plate this year hitting .299 with eight doubles, and five RBIs in 137 at bats.

Through the years, the Padres have never been shy when it comes to spending in free agency. This time, they swung for the fences with this trade.

This move has paid early dividends for the Padres as Arraez wasted no time making history as he entered his new team’s record books with a dominant day against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He led off as the DH, became the first Padres player to record a four-hit game in his debut with his new team.

He went 4-6 with two runs scored and an RBI as the Padres slithered the snakes 13-1. His average improved to .315 through 34 games. For Arraez, he’s going to benefit by having a lot of protection around him with Fernando Tatis, Xander Bogaerts, Jake Cronenworth and Manny Machado.

Could this protection lead to a third consecutive batting championship for Arraez? 

I wouldn’t bet against it. 

But the reality of the situation is will an early season move of this magnitude lead to perhaps another one by Bendix? 

I wouldn’t bet against this since if the President isn’t afraid to be a seller in May could be a bigger return, who knows what’s on the horizon?

But the reality is, this is a tough situation for Manager Skip Schumaker, who is in the third year option on his contract was voided by the club. Thus, the rebuild is on and the Miami fans have seen this drill after trips to the post-season. 

It will be interesting to see how these new players pan out and what guys in the organization will step up and become the core of this franchise.

While there will be no shortage of losses, there will be no shortage of intrigue as this season plays out as to what Bendix will do next.

Meanwhile, the Marlins next three series will be at the LA Dodgers, at home vs the Philadelphia Phillies and they’ll travel to Motown to face the Detroit Tigers from May 13-15.

It will be interesting to see what players will be on the next scorecard and see if the Padres can soar in the standings in the National League West, as Marlins fans will be scoreboard watching  to cheer for Arraez, whose time in South Florida was short and sweet. 

The man he was traded for, pitcher Pablo Lopez has found a home in Minnesota with the Twins.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter/X @TribuneSouth. To see his broadcasts, there is no cost to subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel. Also, his book, “Lessons From The Microphone” can be purchased on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Google.

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