If there’s any lesson to take from the Miami Marlins’ recent run of wins — besides it being more fun to play bad teams — it’s how desperately this roster needs help if they’re thinking playoffs.
And if there’s any lesson you can take from the past quarter-century of the Marlins’ ownership — four owners who failed financially while owning the team, including Derek Jeter’s Wolverine plan — it’s an accounting degree comes in handier at their games than peanuts and crackerjack.
So don’t expect me to pound the table for the latest Marlins owner, Bruce Sherman, to act his part and write a check when none of his predecessors did in this situation. But that’s the larger point, isn’t it?
If Sherman wants to show his era is different, this would be a start. If he wants to re-define this franchise, this would be a good moment.
Even more, if Sherman wants to challenge for the playoffs, it’s time for him and general manager Kim Ng to help a roster that manager Don Mattingly has pushed and prodded to within sight of .500 and, just beyond it, a possible playoff spot.
You can make the case this team is a house of cards built on starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara’s greatness and weaker opponents like some they’ve faced over the last month. That’s not far off. An easy July schedule turns tough in August, too.
You also can make the case this team can make the playoffs with some help in the bullpen and centerfield. That’s not far off, either. Mattingly stated that idea Wednesday before the Marlins’ six-game win streak was ended by the Los Angeles Angels and the inimitable Shohei Ohtani, 5-2.
“We’ve put ourselves back in the wild-card race,” Mattingly said. “A lot has yet to be played. The biggest thing now is sustain it. We got on a little bit of a roll. This is the third time we’ve been on a win streak of over five games. but we haven’t been able to sustain it.”
Heading into Thursday night’s road game against the New York Mets, the Marlins were two games under .500 (39-41) and just three games from a crowded wild-card spot. Mattingly glanced over the figurative horizon for Sherman leading the cavalry, too.
“You don’t want to build just to sell,” he said. “Bruce said to me early in the year, ‘I’d love to be a buyer.’ We’ll take him at his word. We have to do our part.
“We have a lot of guys on the injured list right now. If this thing comes together with those guys getting healthy, our depth is going to increase, our bullpen will increase …”
The common-sense course is for Sherman and Ng to wait the next few weeks and see if they’re buyers or sellers at the Aug. 2 trade deadline. That way they know for sure before deciding. Right?
I guess. But what about a bolder course? Why not make a move weeks before the trade deadline and inject the roster with some well-placed talent to win and the clubhouse with we-believe-in-you optimism.
Sherman and Ng should know this team by now. It’s early July. You can see who it is. It’s 20-12 against losing teams (thanks primarily to a 12-1 record against Washington). It’s 19-29 against winning teams.
It’s Alcantara leading a starting staff with the second-best earned-run average in the National League. It’s a bullpen you cross your fingers over most nights.
It’s also an offense that runs hot and cold in part because the front office swung and missed last offseason. Avisail Garcia has done nothing and Jorge Soler the minimum so far. Maybe it changes. But that’s where they are.
Remember when the Marlins had the best outfield in baseball with Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna? Now they might have the worst.
The season still has a chance. A forward-thinking management would have made a needed trade two weeks ago. Not a blockbuster trade, mind you. Maybe just a tweak to help. Something to show belief.
You never know what’s grand-planning and what’s accounting with teams like the Marlins. Just as economists say we can talk ourselves into a recession, the Marlins can talk themselves into being a playoff hopeful or a comfortable, wait-til-next-year, 10th-place finisher.
This is Sherman’s first crossroads. It’s Sherman’s team. It’s his wallet. There will be no jumping up and down demanding action. South Florida has grown numb, or apathetic, through the years. But isn’t that the point?