Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Bad News Marlins

Another evening and yet another loss. The Marlins have now dropped their last 8 consecutive games and future isn't looking any brighter. It's enough to make me want to throw a Scott Olsen tantrum. As a child growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I equate this team with the classic kids movie "The Bad News Bears". No, Fredi Gonzalez does not resemble Walter Matthau and Miguel Olivo doesn't look like Englebert from the movie. But if you watch the Marlins play defense, it's just as comical as the film.

Has there ever been a major league catcher with worse hands than Miguel Olivo? Anybody? Almost everytime there's a play at home plate, Olivo rarely comes up with the ball cleanly and makes the tag. He's cost the Marlins at least 4 games this year by dropping throws to the plate. When watching Olivo, you'd swear Roberto Duran was standing behind home plate wearing catcher's gear. Like the former boxing great, Olivo also has hands of stone. Olivo ranks second in the National League with 11 errors. Only Russell Martin of the Dodgers has more. And that doesn't include all the pass balls that escape his mitt.

Just last night, Hanley Ramirez airmails a throw over the head of Mike Jacobs to give the Cardinals the lead--which they would never relinquish. Chunky third baseman Miguel Cabrera is fun to watch with the bat, but painful to witness in the field.

I've been watching Marlin games since the franchise debuted in 1993 and I've never seen a worse defensive team at the major league level. And that's saying something. Yes, I remember the horror of watching Junior Felix trying to make catch fly balls in right field. He'd run circles around the outfield trying to find the ball only to have it drop nowhere near him. They could have stuck Stevie Wonder in right field and you wouldn't have noticed the difference. But believe it or not, this year's Marlins team is even worse defensively. It's almost like they're fielding a team full of designated hitters.

It doesn't help when three of your top starting pitchers from last year (Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco)have spent most of the season on the disabled list. Then add the lackluster season of Dontrelle Willis and the always combustible Scott Olsen and you've got a season down the tubes. Whether you're Fredi Gonzalez or Walter Matthau, it's very hard overcome those kind of deficiencies.

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