They spent big bucks on free agents. They moved into a state-of-the-art ballpark. They hired a marquee manager. They changed their name, their color scheme and their outfits. They even started letting players wear neck chains and grow beards.
The Marlins underwent the makeover of all Major League makeovers.
But the results on the field havent changed. The new-look, gussied-up Marlins have been a mammoth bust so far.
With a record of 41-44, the re-branded Marlins are only percentage points better at the All-Star break than last years 43-48 club at the same midseason mile marker. They are arguably the most glaring disappointment in all the majors.
"You can compare the Marlins to the Facebook fiasco," said one major league scout. "High expectations and havent delivered."
Instead of contending for the franchises first-ever division title, the Marlins are sitting just ahead of last-place Philadelphia in the National League East -- nine games behind the first-place Nationals and five games out in the wild card race.
There is still time for the Marlins to turn it around.
They were, after all, the hottest team in baseball in May, going 21-8. But the odds are stacked against them, especially with their only bonafide All-Star -- Giancarlo Stanton -- out of commission for the next four to six weeks following knee surgery.
If there is little or no improvement in the second half, both on the field and at the turnstiles, the Marlins could be looking at another offseason roster overhaul, one that involves a toned-down look and lower payroll.
MID-SEASON REPORT CARD:
• HITTING: The addition of Jose Reyes and a healthy Hanley Ramirez were expected generate a more potent lineup. It hasnt worked out that way. The Marlins rank in the bottom third of all National League teams in batting average, runs scored, and hitting with runners in scoring position. Five of the teams Opening Day starters -- Reyes, Ramirez, Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez and John Buck -- have underperformed at the plate while another, Emilio Bonifacio, has missed significant time with an injury. Only Stanton and second baseman Omar Infante have produced desired results. Grade: D
• PITCHING: The Marlins signed a pair of high-priced free agents, starter Mark Buehrle and closer Heath Bell, while trading for starter Carlos Zambrano in a bid to shore up a pitching staff that also welcomed the return of staff ace Josh Johnson. But the arms havent added up to a collective improvement on the mound. Bell has been a disaster. Johnson hasnt dominated. Zambrano has been erratic. As a unit, the starting staff is merely average, though it might have pressed when the offense disappeared in June. The bullpen, burdened by Bells repeated failings, has struggled. Grade: C -
• FIELDING: There are no Gold Glove candidates on this club. Even steady second baseman Omar Infante hasnt looked as sharp defensively as he did last season. While Ramirez has adapted to third base with general success, the player who forced him out of a job at short -- Reyes -- has been uneven. Neither of the Marlins young corner outfielders, Morrison and Stanton, are remotely close to polished, and Morrison will likely wind up at first base, where he is better suited. Grade: C -
• MANAGING/COACHING: One of Ozzie Guillens favorite catch-phrases is that players win and managers lose. If thats the case, then Guillen -- by his own definition -- is falling short in his first season at the helm. He stuck with Bell too long, perhaps under pressure from a front office that is on the hook with the closer for three years, and the decision cost the Marlins in the standings. On the other hand, Guillen is managing for the first time in the National League and is only halfway into his first season of a four-year contract. Grade: C