Take a look at the standings. Take a long, hard look.
There, buried in the smoldering rubble of another season gone terribly wrong, deep down in the subterranean world of baseball’s losers, is nestled a team — the Marlins — so many pundits and baseball babblers predicted in advance would be engaging near the top in September.
Only it’s July, and it’s already all but over.
Save the champagne for yet another year.
Barring the most unfathomable of miracles, the Marlins will miss the postseason for the 12th consecutive year. Only the Toronto Blue Jays (20 years) and the Seattle Mariners (13) are mired in longer droughts.
They are 14 games below .500, 10 1/2 games out in the National League East, and possess the second-worst record in all the majors, ahead of only the miserable Philadelphia Phillies.
They’ve begun the selling-off process in advance of the July 31 trading deadline, telling teams Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Brad Hand or Jeff Baker are theirs for the taking.
How did so much hope turn into so much gloom so quickly?
Here are some of the reasons:
1) Their boatload of offseason roster moves didn’t pan out according to script. The blueprint was flawed. Outside of their big trade with the Dodgers, which netted Dee Gordon and Haren, the other moves haven’t turned to gold.
First baseman Michael Morse has contributed little at all after signing a two-year, $16 million deal, his spot taken by a player (Justin Bour) the Marlins grabbed out of a bargain bin for $12,500.
Morse, at least so far, looms as the latest in a series of mid-level free agent signings that haven’t gone the way the Marlins expected, joining John Buck, Heath Bell and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in that regard.
The Marlins’ trade for Latos, who was supposed to provide the rotation with a veteran presence, has given them exactly three wins.
And on it goes.
2) Injuries have crippled them across the board. Not counting Jose Fernandez, who was coming back from Tommy John surgery and wasn’t expected to contribute until midseason, the Marlins’ starting rotation has been battered by injuries.
Front-line starters Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart and Latos have all spent time on the disabled list. That trio, which was expected to fill the front end of the rotation until Fernandez’s return, has combined for a 4-14 record and 5.29 ERA.
The lineup has also taken a beating.
Half of the team’s eight starting position players — Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Martin Prado and Morse — have also spent time on the disabled list. Stanton and Prado remain out, and Gordon dislocated his thumb in Saturday’s 14-3 win over the Reds.
3) Timely hitting has been close to nonexistent. The Marlins thought they had the makings of a lineup that would produce enough runs to win. That hasn’t happened.
The Marlins’ .223 average with runners in scoring position ranks next to last in the NL, ahead of only the lowly Phillies.
4) The early-season managerial change — with the firing of Mike Redmond and hiring of front-office man Dan Jennings — hasn’t sparked a turnaround. To the contrary.
The Marlins have performed about the same under both.
Their record under Redmond at the time of his firing was 16-22 for a .421 winning percentage. Under Jennings, the Marlins have gone 20-28 (.417).
5) Their bullpen — and incumbent closer Steve Cishek, in particular — was a deflating factor early. Cishek blew four saves before mid-May, which cost him the role.