Second, the trade itself made sense. Sanchez was a pending free agent they would have lost after this season with nothing in return, and the players most likely to still be traded are those with expiring contracts (such as first baseman Carlos Lee and pitcher Randy Choate). Infante was OK but no remedy for a team shy of run production; hes a glorified utility guy. If even one of those three Tigers prospects (two pitchers and a catcher) hits big for Miami, the deal looks great in retrospect. And all three are close to MLB-ready.
As for what went wrong with this season, start from the start, with an Opening Day fiasco that seemed to offer an omen. Or a curse.
Remember how all the feel-good was sapped from the building when the sad sight of an incapacitated Muhammad Ali being wheeled slowly to the mound redefined buzzkill? (That was just before the club embarrassed itself by having showgirls in feather headdresses accompany players during pregame introductions.)
Guillens Fidelgate soon followed.
Then Heath Bell started throwing sticks of dynamite and blowing up leads.
Then all those bats turned into balsa wood with runners in scoring position.
Led by the Bell bust, none of the stars signed before this season has performed up to expectations except starting pitcher Mark Buehrle. And no other Marlins have lived up to their marquee except Stanton.
It is not a good sign that when searching for bright spots in a season gone bad, one is left to look not to the stars but to marvel at the unexpected performance of B-listers such as Justin Ruggiano and Steve Cishek.
Marlins general manager Michael Hill was not wrong when The Franchise cameras recently caught him in a staff meeting saying the teams stars and veteran players mostly have crapped all over themselves.
He was colorful. Blunt. But not wrong.
All of the underperforming and disappointment have drained the buoyancy and buzz and robbed Miami city and team of the bounce normally enjoyed in the first year of a new ballpark. Attendance in turn has not met expectations.
A new stadium alone was never going to be a panacea to making this the baseball town it never has been, but the new park and this new, star-filled team were supposed to at least make this maiden season feel special.
The park has done its part.
The team in it has not come close.