Do 2016 Miami Marlins Have A Miguel Cabrera or Jeff Conine?

Aug 12, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds (left) and Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (right) both look on from the dugout steps during the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 12, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds (left) and Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (right) both look on from the dugout steps during the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

So I’ll go ahead and cop to following the team a little less closely over the past week. The luster of another golden Olympic performance by the world’s greatest athlete will do that. Growing up in Miami, I also grew up in the water, and while I’m a huge baseball fan, swimming is just about the only sport I’d claim to be good at. And only Dan Marino stands taller than Michael Phelps when it comes to athletes I’ve put on a personal veneration pedestal, so missing more than a night of coverage was out of the question. Ultimately, swimming season is one week long every four years, and my wife has a bit of a sports saturation level. So since attending last Saturday’s Marlins-Rockies game, to the back burner baseball has gone.

But in doing so, I might have just missed the last week I could have watched a Marlins game feeling confident about their playoff chances.  Having dropped two straight series, in ways either confoundedly frustrating or impressively stupid, the Fish have now only won three of their last ten games. And to cap it all off, the biggest weapon on the roster might have just sustained a significant injury in the most recent heartbreaking loss.

Giancarlo Stanton had to leave last night’s game with a groin injury, and any chance of making the playoffs might have just left with him.

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Unless it hasn’t. Unless this team comes up with a way a rally around this, and make up for that loss of production. A tall order to be sure, but not an impossible one. Grim as things might seem, take some comfort in the fact that we’ve seen this before. In fact, we’ve seen it happen in one of the greatest seasons in franchise history.

On August 30, 2003, the Marlins had lost seven of their last ten games. They had also just been informed that Mike Lowell had suffered a broken hand, and would be hard pressed to play again that season.

On August 31, 2003, rookie outfielder Miguel Cabrera settled in at third base and the front office pulled off a waiver wire deal with the Baltimore Orioles for Jeff Conine.

That 2003 team went 19-8 the rest of the way, won the Wild Card, and won the organization’s second world championship.

Can the 2016 Marlins pull off a similar course correction, and save this season?

While the gut reaction here is a likely a resounding no for many of you, it actually might not be as huge of an ask you think.

True enough, there is no Miguel Cabrera on the roster, not unless you mash the best qualities of Stanton and Christian Yelich together into one super slugger. But the 2003 Marlins didn’t have Miguel Cabrera either. They had…well, they had 2003 Miguel Cabrera. That guy hit just .268, and of his 12 HRs that season, only three came after Lowell’s injury.  That’s not exactly Cooperstown material. That’s kind of Derek Dietrich actually, with a lower average and on base percentage.

And for those of you still stuck on the fact it took a future first ballot Hall of Famer caliber replacement part to fix the 2003 team’s woes, keep in mind that the other player that will see a huge uptick in at bats in an injured Stanton scenario just happens to be a future first ballot Hall of Famer himself. He’s just at the other end of his career arc. Ichiro brings a .319 average, and elite defensive skill, with him to the party.

So the wild card here actually isn’t replacing Stanton, at least not in terms of on paper production.  The wild card is will the Marlins find themselves a Conine this week?

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Of course, that’s something they should have done two weeks ago. The Justin Bour situation has been handled abysmally, and to date, the failure to secure a veteran to replace him is the lone indictment I can throw at the front office for this 2016 season.

I’ll happily double down on it though if something doesn’t get done within 48 hours of any kind of Stanton announcement more troublesome than day to day.

This doesn’t need to be a blockbuster move by any stretch. Conine only hit .238 in his month of regular season action after all, though he did deliver 5 HRs. His biggest contribution was arguably psychological, his acquisition showing the team that they were still entrusted with making a run despite the loss of their top run producer. Throw in all those veteran intangibles, especially one with successful postseason experience, and you have something far more consequential than a boxscore.

More than ever now, the ball is in the court of Michael Hill and Jeffrey Loria. Get something done. Add that guy, preferably someone who can play first base and the outfield. Once you do, it’s fully on the shoulders of this young squad to decide what they want to do with the rest of their season. Will they fold, earning the label of early season overachievers? Or will they rally, showing this Marlins squad is worth a continued investment of both fan interest and franchise dollars?

Just in time for the less thrilling half of the Olympic slate, it should be an exciting week as we find out.