PHOENIX -- If someone had told the Marlins in February at the start of spring training that by late August they would be languishing at the bottom of the standings dead last in the National League East not a soul would have believed it.
No chance, shortstop Jose Reyes said.
No way, catcher John Buck said.
Manager Ozzie Guillen said he would have bet every nickel to his name that the Marlins would not be positioned where they are now, playing out the string in a season that once held high promise.
I would have lost all my money, Guillen said.
With a quarter of the season remaining, the Marlins started the day on Monday with not only the worst record in the NL East, but also with 55-67 record that was actually worse than last seasons 57-65 mark at the same point.
That team finished last, 30 games out of first.
If the Marlins dont improve on their position between now and the season-ender on Oct. 3, they will finish last in back-to-back seasons for the second time in franchise history. The 1998 and 99 Marlins also pulled up the rear.
But those teams were the gutted remnants of the 1997 World Series team.
These Marlins were supposed to be so much better. After their free agent spending spree over the winter, most baseball experts projected the Marlins to contend for a wild-card spot, if not for the teams first division title.
You would think right now wed be competing for a spot to go to the playoffs, Reyes said. Thats the way we felt when we took the field on Opening Day.
Now were almost into September and were in last place. Its hard to believe.
Buck said if the Marlins merely had normal seasons, they wouldnt be in the position they are now.
Nobody had to have a blowout year, Buck said. On paper, we should have been in the thick of things. To be this far out ...
Giancarlo Stanton, one of the few bright spots for the Marlins when he has been healthy, said for the Marlins to be this far out of it with so much season left makes no sense.
The Marlins said they would prefer to finish anywhere but last, naturally.
But they also said it doesnt much matter whether they finish second or last if theyre home in October.
Not making the playoffs is not making the playoffs, Stanton said. Obviously, theres a difference between third and last. But either way, youre still going home after 162 [games].
Guillen pretty much agreed.
Theres only one difference if you finish last or you finish second, said Guillen, who has never before managed a last-place club. The [team] that finishes second and doesnt make the playoffs, its more exciting during the season. Its more fun to play for something. Its more intense. But theyll be watching the playoff games like I do.
At the end of the day, you both go home.