Found April 25, 2012 on Fox Sports:
I'd like to argue that the Miami Marlins can't win with youngsters such as left fielder Logan Morrison, 24, and right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, 22, hitting in the middle of the order. Well, Morrison is the least of the team's problems, and Stanton at least has something of an excuse, which is more than most of his teammates can say. The Marlins are 7-10 after falling to the Mets on Wednesday night, 5-1. They have scored a total of four runs during their four-game losing streak. And Stanton offered a damning assessment of the team afterward, saying, "That sense of urgency without panic isn't there." Shortstop/leadoff man Jose Reyes is batting .217. Third baseman/No. 3 hitter Hanley Ramirez is batting .234. The Marlins' new park appears decidedly pitcher-friendly, and Morrison and Stanton, who barely played in spring training, "need to get their feet under them," according to hitting coach Eduardo Perez. The Marlins won the 2003 World Series with Miguel Cabrera, 20, batting cleanup. I'm not saying they can't contend with Morrison and Stanton in the 4-5 spots, particularly when Morrison leads the team with a .319 batting average. But Cabrera turned out to be one of the great hitters of this generation. And the '03 Marlins demonstrated championship mettle. In time, these Marlins might field the American League-style lineup that Morrison envisions, grinding through at-bats, wearing down opposing starters. But like so much else with this team, I'll believe it when I see it. Imagine if the Marlins had signed first baseman Albert Pujols -- well, the Albert Pujols that the Angels thought they were getting. Heck, imagine if the Marlins still had Dan Uggla hitting 30 homers per season at second base. The presence of such a slugger would reduce the pressure on Morrison and Stanton, who often bat fourth and fifth, and indeed give the Fish more of an AL look. Not that they should need help. "The talent we have in the lineup is good enough to score runs," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We will come out of this. Before the season is over, we will come out of it. Right now, we're pressing. And pressing the wrong way." True enough. But the Marlins still appear to be one adult voice short in the clubhouse, someone to instill urgency, accept responsibility -- and yes, deliver a hit that says, "enough is enough." Ramirez, 28, should be that guy. Morrison and Stanton can't be, due to their youth and recent physical issues. Morrison, coming off surgery on his right knee, had only 15 at-bats in the spring training. Stanton, dealing with inflammation in his left knee, had only 21. Not surprisingly, the two have combined for just five extra-base hits in 105 at-bats. Stanton, who hit 34 homers last season, is the Pujols of the National League, stuck on none. "Both of them are grinding," Perez said. "They understand they can't play at 100 percent. But at the same time, they understand the team needs them. It's better to have 80 percent of (Morrison and Stanton) than not have them at all." Both will be fine, probably better than fine -- the Marlins, to a man, say that Morrison and Stanton are hard workers, willing pupils, eager to succeed. Veterans such as catcher John Buck laud Morrison's knowledge of hitting, while most in the game view Stanton as a superstar waiting to happen. "I know everyone expects a lot from me, as they should," Stanton says. "I'm prepared for that." The Marlins have other threats -- center fielder Emilio Bonifacio, a speedster coming off a breakthrough season; first baseman Gaby Sanchez, a consistent 20-homer, 40-double type; and second baseman Omar Infante, the surprising team leader with five home runs. Still, the Fish will need to hit better collectively in a division in which only one club -- the Braves -- is performing at a high level offensively. It's early, but the Braves entered Wednesday leading the NL in runs per game. The Marlins were 10th, the Nationals 12th, the Mets 13th and the Phillies 15th. "We have a good lineup. We can wear pitchers down -- like the Red Sox can, like the Yankees can," Morrison said. "We feel like we have an American League lineup. Yeah, you might get us out. But you might use 25 pitches an inning to do it." Morrison is not out of line to suggest that -- the Marlins last season ranked third in the NL in pitches per plate appearance. Reyes generally is below average in that category, but not by much. His addition, plus the renewed health of Ramirez, who looked fantastic all spring coming off left-shoulder surgery, figured to make the Marlins a much more dynamic offensive club. It hasn't happened yet. It might not happen at all. But the consensus in the clubhouse is that if the offense falters, it won't be because Morrison and Stanton are overwhelmed hitting in the middle of the order. "Usually young guys aren't asked to do that. When they struggle, you wonder how they'll wear it," Buck says. "But Stanton and LoMo, they're pretty tough mentally. They're definitely able to shoulder it and handle it. They're extremely good hitters, very advanced for their age." They will need to be. The Marlins left themselves no other choice.
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