Welcome Back, GiancarloBy
After one month spent recovering from a right knee injury, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has made his long-anticipated return to Ozzie Guillen’s lineup tonight, batting fifth against the New York Mets.
Quite a bit has changed since the last time Stanton appeared in a game for the Fish. Gone via trade are Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Logan Morrison (due to injury), and practically all hope of of a playoff appearance for the 2012 season. Stanton, along with shortstop Jose Reyes, now take their places as the cornerstones of the organization and the players that Miami will build around for the next several seasons.
Unsurprisingly, the Marlins were devoid of power during Giancarlo’s absence. Over the past 30 days, the club has posted the second-worst slugging percentage in all of baseball, ahead of only the Rays. As a result, Miami averaged just 2.8 runs per game during the span, which resulted in an ugly record of 8-17.
Although the return of Stanton to the lineup on a regular basis will help the offensive numbers for the rest of the season (provided he doesn’t re-injure himself, as Ozzie Guillen has talked about monitoring his health closely from here on out), this is still a ballclub that will have to focus on preparing to improve over the winter. The Marlins can’t afford to push Stanton or any of the new young, talent acquired in July deals physically as part of a last-ditched effort to eek out a WC spot. As it stands right now, the club sits 13 games behind the second WC playoff spot and, barring an absolute miracle, will be watching the playoffs from the couch come October.
Stanton and Reyes now represent the faces of the organization that has been on quite the roller coaster ride since optimism was at an all-time high during this past offseason. Even though Giancarlo will make the Fish a heck of a lot more fun to watch during the remainder of this season, there will still be plenty more hard times on the way as the club evaluates the roster and determines the best way to fix all that has gone wrong this season.
I’ll have more in the coming weeks on ways that the Fish could stand to improve the roster in the coming offseason via free agency and trades, so stay tuned for that.