The Cleveland Indians are one of the hottest teams in all of baseball. They have won eight straight games and trail the Tigers in the AL Central by two games. If they want to catch and ultimately pass the Tigers, they will have to keep playing well. If not they risk not just falling further back in the standings, but also being caught from behind by the suddenly scorching hot Kansas City Royals. Go figure. I say it constantly but baseball is weird sometimes.
The Indians travel to Miami this weekend to take on the Marlins in a three game set. This will be the Indians first time playing the Marlins in their brand new, state of the art, ugly as sin new stadium that opened last season. Ok, so maybe I’m being a bit harsh. The stadium itself isn’t hideous. It’s the certain thematic elements that have been incorporated which make it kind of an eye sore. Neon green walls in the outfield, the mystery piece of “art” that is in left center, and the thousands upon thousands of empty blue seats. It’s a lot for the eyes to process.
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As for the Marlins, they have actually been playing pretty well of late despite the current state of the roster. Last season they made a couple of huge free agent splashed when they signed players like Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell, etc. Even bringing in Ozzie Guillen was seen as a splashy move. To mark the occasion, the Marlins volunteered to be profiled on Showtime’s “The Franchise. “A season later, each and every single one of those individuals is gone, including Hanley Ramirez and Emilio Bonifacio and “The Franchise” has been cancelled.
Citing financial concerns, Owner Jeffery Loria sold off the majority of his best players in a fire sale that makes each of the Marlins previous two fire sales look like child’s play. To make matters worse, he cited financial issues during the same year in which they opened a new stadium. Opening a new stadium is supposed to be a license to print money. Apparently not in Miami, where attendance issues continue to be a major concern even though building a new baseball only stadiums in the heart of Miami was supposed to be the solution. Not so much.
Now the Marlins are faced with a monumental rebuild that centers around slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who has made no secret of his displeasure for ownership, the moves they have made and his current situation, and top pitching prospect Jose Fernanadez. How bad are things for this current version of the Marlins? The current state of Giancarlo Stanton‘s career has become a bit of a national nightmare. the hash tag #freegiancarlo exists on Twitter so that’s all you need to know. People are basically waiting for the day he demands a trade and the Marlins finally oblige.
As for Fernandez, he was so highly touted that the Marlins decided to call him up from A-ball, thus skipping every single one of the minor league stepping stones that most players typically are forced to endure. Turns out it was the right move. Fernandez has been an absolute revelation on the mound. He’s been so good that he was the Marlins’ lone all-star representative and not out of pity. He is that good.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Marlins roster is either a hodge podge of veterans thrown together to fill space such as Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre, and Justin Ruggiano, or guys that should still be in the minors but have been forced into major league duty. One look at their roster and it’s like looking at the roster for a local rec league baseball team. Who are half of these guys? Logan Morrison stands out as a former top prospect who has really fallen on hard times due to injuries, but other than that it’s a pretty barren roster. The fact that they have played so well over their past 50 games or so is a testament to manager Mike Redmon and the heart these players have.
Given the fact that this Marlins team refuses to roll over and die for anyone could make this a fun series. The Indians shouldn’t expect to come into town and bash their way to another three game sweep. If they aren’t careful they could lose two of three or worse. Just ask the Pirates about that.