To preview the coming series against the Marlins, we sat down with Craig from one o the top Marlins blogs on the net, Fish Stripes:
The Nats Blog: Right off the bat, what do you think the Marlins chances are to catch up and grab the Wild-Card?
Fish Stripes: Of course, it could happen, and from my viewpoint, hopefully it will. But the Marlins have only two home stands left in the season and both of those are three games each. So in other words the Marlins are on the road for most of all of September and that ain't good. The Fish aren't a bad road team but they aren't exceptional either, their road records stands at 31-31 to date. The most important aspect as to whether the Marlins can make a serious run is if the starting pitching can hold up. In August the young arms of the starters were pretty hit and miss and the innings are piling up. So I guess I would give it about a 15 to 20 percent chance.
TNB: At the trade deadline the Nationals traded Nick Johnson to the Marlins for Aaron Thompson. Obviously Johnson has been mostly hurt since the deal was made. What were the views of Marlins fans when the trade was made, and what are the views now?
Fish Stripes: Naturally we all knew of Johnson's history with injuries and in that department, he did not disappoint. But when healthy he has been an on-base machine, his present Marlins OBP is .500. There was a mixed reaction when the deal was made, he is rental after all, because there is no way the Marlins are going to pay the salary it would take to re-sign him. Some Marlins fans didn't like giving up a young pitcher for a rental. But most feel now it was worth a shot to see if he could stay healthy and help the team. This trade will not be thought of as a bad move in future. Especially since the Marlins are stock with more promising pitching talent in the minors than Thompson was showing to be.
TNB: All Nationals fans are still a little bitter at Hanley Ramirez for taking the 2006 Rookie of the Year award from Ryan Zimmerman (though Hanley deserved it), but Ramirez has clearly taken it a step up and is in conversation for the MVP award this season. Do you think that Hanley has a legitimate case for winning MVP? Do you think he has a legitimate chance?
Fish Stripes: I think one could make a very strong case for Hanley. He is leading the NL in BA, third in doubles and fourth in OPS. His defense has improved to the point where it is no longer consider a negative. But I don't think Hanley has any chance of winning. He plays for the Marlins, after all, and the baseball writers will just vote for Pujols again, which is probably the right decision.
TNB: What is your take on this?
Fish Stripes: It was just business as usual in the Marlins clubhouse. Most of the players, more or less, broke into the big league together and they are very close and definitely not shy at calling each other out. Shouting at each other is a way of life in the Marlins locker room, though normally you never hear about it. They are all each others biggest fans and also their biggest critics. That is just the way the Marlins roll since Fredi Gonzalez took over as manager. Believe me there are no hard feelings over the incident, it is what they do.
TNB: What would you like to see the Marlins add next year to have another shot at winning the Wild Card or the division?
Fish Stripes: Honestly, I don't think the Marlins have a lot of holes. Most anything the team needs is already being groomed in the minors. The big question is whether the team will re-sign some of the higher priced arbitration eligible players. Given the front office's recent history, I'm guessing they won't. The Marlins are not a team of additions in the office season. They are a team of subtraction of payroll.