After trading their best second baseman for a new Conine, will the Miami Marlins need some old Conine magic to make playoffs?
Everything has gone better than expected for the Miami Marlins in 2020- except for second base. Well, that and whatever the July plan was keeping COVID-19 in check in the clubhouse.
However, none of that has been enough to this point to knock the surprising Marlins out of playoff contention. What would have seemed impossible in February is moving slowly and inexorably towards probable.
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Perhaps it took the tragedy of that mass outbreak to serve as the catalyst for the “Why not us” mantra the young team has expressed all season. Or, perhaps had it not occurred, we’d be talking seriously about the Miami Marlins hosting the first round of the playoffs thanks to their first-ever division title.
Villar never fully matched his 2019 offensive production, save for stolen bases. He also reportedly never bought much into what coaches were telling him.
More likely than any coaching issue though was that it was a money move. Clearing his salary helped free up the money to spend on Starling Marte. A “Marlins” move to help pay for a very un-Marlins move, in an even more un-Marlins season. With the added bonus of bringing back a good prospect, with big-name value in Miami’s market.
Griffin is, of course, the son of Miami Marlins legend Jeff Conine. Marlins fans will spend future dollars to see Griffin play, to see a Conine jersey retake the field in South Florida. I say this with certainty because I will certainly be doing so. If he gets to wear his dad’s old number? Consider my jersey purchased.
At the time, another consideration was the return of highly regarded prospect Isan Diaz, who had previously opted out of the season. There’s still hope Diaz can become the second baseman of the future, and a big goal coming into 2020 was validating that hope. However, Diaz failed to fare any better than he did to close 2019 over the past two weeks, and has now landed on the injured list for the rest of the year.
So what to do at the keystone for the Miami Marlins? The waiver deadline came and went last week with no action, not a surprise considering how many teams technically remain in the race.
Someone in the organization is going to have to step up, and offer the kind of down the stretch production Jeff Conine provided the Marlins in 2003 when Mike Lowell went down with an injury. Miami will need all the offense they can muster these last seven games to break into the postseason party.
Maybe Jazz Chisholm finds another gear. Perhaps Jon Berti recaptures some of the magic he ended 2019 with. Hopefully, it comes from somewhere. Because otherwise, no matter how to feel good it might have felt at the time, the Villar trade could end up being panned all offseason as just business as usual for the Marlins.