Occasionally, it is an interesting perspective to see or hear things about an upcoming opponent from the perspective of one of that team’s fans. I touched base with Ehsan Kassim, Editor of Marlin Maniac, a partner site representing the Miami Marlins in the FanSided Network, to see his perspective on all things Marlins entering the series starting tonight. You can see my half of the Q&A here on their blog for the questions he asked me.
JR: How are Miami fans taking to the “gutting” of the team after committing to the new stadium with big aspirations just a year ago?
EK: Not too well. The 2012 team was hyped up to be a contender and something Marlins fans could look forward each year as the newly re-branded Miami Marlins. Of course, that was not to be. Owner Jeffery Loria works on an impulse and rather than allow the team one more chance to put things together, decided that they needed to reboot and start all over. Instead of getting to watch superstars like Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, Marlins fans are settling for wash-ups Greg Dobbs and Placido Polanco. Even fan favorite and one of the World Series heroes from 2003, Juan Pierre, has been a huge bust.
JR: Is outfielder Giancarlo Stanton becoming disenchanted with the team / organization? And … should we expect to hear his name in any trade rumors (real or speculation) often as the season progresses?
EK: Giancarlo quickly stated after the trade that he was not happy with the direction the team was taking. He even told Peter Gammons that he doubted the Marlins purpose for the trades were to build a winner. To his credit, Stanton has been a professional about the whole ordeal since the season began. He has been playing hard and has tried to take on a leadership role in a young clubhouse. He got off to a slow start, but was just heating up at the end of April.
Unfortunately, that is when he went down with a hamstring injury that should sideline him for a month or two. As for the rumors, they are constantly out there, but it would make no sense for the Marlins to deal their superstar right now. Between the slow start and the injury, his value is not at it’s peak. Marlins fans have grudgingly admitted that Stanton does not seem to be in the Marlins future, but it would still alienate the fanbase to trade him right now.
JR: Is there any one starting pitcher on the Marlins roster that the Reds should worry to face in this upcoming series? [Jose Fernandez or Ricky Nolasco come to mind, and the Reds faced Fernandez once in the homestand a month ago]
EK: Jose Fernandez is the pitcher that the Reds lineup should fear the most. Yes, the Reds knocked him around in a start earlier this season, but he was still figuring things out. His last two starts have been a lot better. Two starts ago, he allowed just one hit in seven innings and struck out nine. His last start, he allowed a three-run home run to Adrian Gonzalez, but was able to bounce back and deliver a strong six innings, striking out seven more hitters.
JR: Around baseball, the Marlins are seen as a “doormat” team in 2013 after having success in multiple seasons in the recent past. How is Jeff Loria viewed as affecting (or hindering) the ability of the team to compete?
EK: Loria hinders the team’s performance by acting like he knows what he is doing. Loria often times dictates to managers who he wants in the Marlins lineup and active roster. He will trade a player or fire a manager on an impulse. He is extremely unpredictable and Marlins fans are quite fed up with it. I dare you to name a worse owner in professional sports. I will leave it at that, don’t like wasting my breath on this guy anymore.
JR: What “up-and-comers” are getting more playing time (and not “household names”) we should expect to see playing in the starting eight in the series?
EK: Some non-household names to watch include prospects Derek Dietrich and Marcell Ozuna. Dietrich was recently called up and is seen as the Marlins scond baseman of the future. He is up in the majors after Donovan Solano hit the disabled list. Dietrich has a home run and double early in his major league career and hopes to impress the Marlins enough to warrant the starting second base job when Solano returns. Derek was likely rushed a bit to the majors, but the Marlins had no choice with all the injuries on their roster.
Marcell Ozuna is the other Marlins prospect that was rushed due to injuries. Most prospect experts projected Ozuna to make his MLB debut sometime in 2014, but with him being on the 40-man roster, he made more sense for the Marlins to bring up. Ozuna has been impressive in his MLB stint though. He owns a slash line of .326/.367/.500 slash line with a home run and five doubles. Ozuna is filling in for the injured Stanton and could shift to left field in place of Juan Pierre if he continues to hit well.
JR: Should the Reds be worried about an “upset” in this series (given their woefulness on the road this season) and seeing the Marlins win at least a couple games?
EK: Hardly. The Marlins are not a very good team right now and their lineup is beyond putrid. I mean, Greg “Freaking” Dobbs and Miguel Olivo have spent a lot of time in the Marlins starting lineup. That makes me want to puke. Dobbs is directily the opposite player that Reds first baseman Joey Votto is. But the Marlins do have a chance to steal a game this series with their pitching. Fernandez has thrown the ball well and pitches the finale and Nolasco is coming off of a nine strikeout game his last time out.
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