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The Miami Marlins are slumping in June for the second straight season, but this time around the coaching staff is not going to accept any responsibility for an anemic offense.
After leading the majors with a 21-8 record in May, the team is 4-10 in June thanks in no small part to its struggles at the plate. The Fish have scored just 2.5 runs per game in June while hitting .212. In a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend, the Marlins were one-hit on Friday and two-hit on Saturday.
In 2011, while the Marlins were in the middle of a 5-23 June, the team fired hitting coach John Mallee. Not wanting to see a repeat of that situation, manager Ozzie Guillen stood up for Eduardo Perez, the man who replace Mallee in 2011.
"It's funny how this game works," Guillen said. "Nobody gives Eduardo credit when we were doing good. Now they're going to [expletive] on him because we're not hitting? That’s a bunch of [expletive]. No, blame the players. They were good two weeks ago [with the] same hitting coach."
Guillen said he has the final say on firing coaches, and Perez is not going anywhere. "I fire my coaches," Guillen said. "The only reason they're going to get fired is if I see them not do what they're supposed to do. This guy [Perez] has been working hard every day. He makes suggestions, tells [players] what he thinks. When the game starts, he cannot perform for them."
Guillen is certainly correct, but that has not stopped many a team from dismissing a coach when his players underperform. It's a lot easier to replace a coach than an entire roster of hitters, and some owners think a change in leadership can shake up a team that is not living up to expectations.
But as Guillen put it, "The only reason they fail is because they swing at a lot of bad pitches," and not because the coaching staff has failed them.
Last season's firing of Mallee did little to stop the Marlins' June swoon, and perhaps team owner Jeffrey Loria remembers that. Indeed, the most the firing of Mallee did was anger outfielder Logan Morrison, who slammed the team publicly.
"It's definitely [the players'] fault" that Mallee was fired, Morrison said at the time. Had Guillen been with the team at the time, he probably would have agreed.
The Marlins currently rank 14th in runs scored in the National League, 13th in batting average, and 14th in hitting with runners in scoring position. Despite their weak performance so far in June, the team is just 6 games behind first place Washington in the NL East standings.
It is not too late to get back on track and challenge for a division title, but the Marlins will have to turn their poor performance at the plate around soon if they want to.