CHICAGO -- Time is running out on the underperforming Marlins, who could go into seller’s mode at the July 31 trade deadline if they don’t turn things around immediately.
“I think every game now is magnified,” Larry Beinfest, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, said after the Marlins dropped two out of three to the Cubs. “We need to win games or else we’re going to lose complete contact. Then we’ll have to make decisions from there.”
The Marlins (44-48) head to Pittsburgh and even if they sweep the three-game series there, they would return home with a losing record.
“To come here and lose two out of three is disappointing,” Beinfest said. “In terms of decision-making, I don’t know how that’s going to go. I really don’t. We need to win games just to make sure we’re on the periphery of even thinking about getting into things.”
Beinfest described the season so far as “very disappointing, frustrating.”
“With the talent we have here, we should have won more games than we have, and it hasn’t happened,” he said.
Beinfest said it’s not surprising that the Marlins are being mentioned often in trade rumors.
“I think we’ve underperformed — underachieved — and the position we’re in, I think it’s normal to hear a lot of things about us, especially [given] how public we were this winter about being all in.”
While confirming to a Boston sports-talk radio station Thursday that the Marlins inquired about outfielder Carl Crawford with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherrington, team president Larry Lucchino also dismissed the rumored trade involving Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell.
“[Marlins assistant general manager] Dan Jennings, the guy from the Marlins’ front office who drafted Carl Crawford, he’s been up in Boston scouting, presumably Carl Crawford and others, when Ben let us know about that there had been an inquiry,” Lucchino said. “And given the encouragement that we offer regarding being bold, I’m sure he said, ‘What do you guys have in mind? What are you talking about?’ That’s just par for the course this time of year. We explore all possibilities, big ones, bold ones, small ones, incremental ones, whatever you can do.”
Marlins hitting coach Eduardo Perez said the team’s failure to produce with runners in scoring position is the primary reason it is languishing near the bottom of the standings.
“It’s been frustrating,” Perez said. “We would be better, obviously, if we produced with runners in scoring position. We wouldn’t be where we’re at right now.”
In Wednesday’s rain-shortened 5-1 loss to the Cubs, the Marlins failed to score after Emilio Bonifacio tripled to lead off the fifth. Three of the four batters who followed Bonifacio had one-pitch at-bats. Ramirez, who struck out in the fifth, went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position Wednesday.
“We got into trouble because we swung at pitches that [ Jeff] Samardzija wanted us to swing at. We went out there and swung at first-pitch breaking balls down in the zone. If you’re going to miss, miss up in the zone.”
The Marlins are hitting just .227 with runners in scoring position. Perez said everyone is to blame, including himself.
“It’s something we could easily take the easy route and say, ‘I can’t explain it,’ ” Perez said. “But we’ve got to look at ourselves and take responsibility. I have to look at myself to take responsibility for it. The players have to look at themselves and take responsibility for it.”
• Friday: Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco (8-7, 4.47) at Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Kevin Correia (6-6, 4.25), 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
• Saturday: Marlins RHP Carlos Zambrano (5-7, 4.22) at Pirates RHP A.J. Burnett (10-3, 3.78), 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
• Scouting report: The Marlins and Pirates split a two-game series at Marlins Park in May.