As Friday's 4 p.m. trade deadline approaches, the Marlins are exploring presumably cheap ways they might jump-start their chances at the playoffs.
Their hopes of catching Philly are pretty much floating belly-up and stinking. But there's still the Wildcard race, for which the Fish sit 3 1/2 games back from Colorado -- even as, as team exec Larry Beinfest put it, they are "trending upward."
(So were pet rocks and mullets at one point, and neither rode that to a World Series, but whatever.)
"We're looking for ways to improve ourselves right now,'' said
Scrooge McDuck Beinfest. "We are active.''
It's one thing to look -- it's another to touch. And the most likely scenario is that nothing happens at all while the Marlins see how the next couple months come to pass.
In the long run, the Marlins ought to be relatively set nearly everywhere but on the mound if their young prospects pan out as planned. They lack shutdown relievers, and the farm system needs to suck up and churn out some pitchers -- especially considering that Josh Johnson is going to be awfully expensive soon. But they can address that issue at another time.
What's more pressing are the gaping black holes of suck at third base, where Fredi Gonzalez stubbornly keeps trying to jam poor Emilio Bonifacio even though he doesn't fit, and in corner outfield where Jeremy Hermida can't defend and Chris Coghlan hasn't hit enough to be helpful. Someone who fields nimbly and carries a very large bat would be a nice addition at either position.
The catch? Upgrading at either position could cost them. The front office doesn't want to let go of any top prospects, and while they don't want to get rid of any big boys, either, dropping players like Dan Uggla and Hermida and their rising arbitration salaries would be the way to go.
But the more likely area of action is the bullpen. There's a need, of course, with the already erratic Matt Lindstrom on the DL and some regular but unspectacular work from the others -- but it's also where the Marlins could make a move without adding much to their notoriously low payroll.
And if we know our Marlins, they'll either do nothing, or the cheap thing.
Janie Campbell thinks Marlins management is far too cheap, but also sort of enjoys taking a jalopy into Daytona, so to speak. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the Internet.