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The first half of the 2015 season has not been particularly kind to the Miami Marlins.  While there have been some positive things to get fans excited, the negatives far outweigh them.

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Inconsistency both on the mound and at the plate have led to a disappointing 38-51 record at the All-Star break.

However, all is not lost.  Thanks to playing in a division that has yet to see a team take off with the lead, Miami finds itself ‘just’ 11 games out of first place.  For a team that’s 13 games under .500, it could be a lot worse.

As the Marlins prepare to return from the Midsummer Classic break, there are some topics that are causing major discussions among fans and the media.  Here are the Marlins’ Franchise Four topics causing discussion heading into the second half of the season.

Return Of Jose Fernandez

Perhaps the most exciting and positive news surrounding the Marlins right now is the return of stud pitcher Jose Fernandez.  The soon-to-be 22-year-old (his birthday is on July 31st) is widely considered one of the best young pitchers in all of baseball and after missing 13 months due to Tommy John Surgery, Fernandez is back and has picked up right where he left off.

Giancarlo Stanton’s Injury Status

After his usual slow start to the season, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton began clobbering baseballs and raising his batting average one long home run at a time.  He was leading the league in homers and RBIs when the unthinkable happened; he got injured.

Stanton broke a bone in his left hand, causing him to miss four to six weeks.  He should be able to resume hitting in the next couple weeks and Marlins fans are hoping that when he returns, he can resume his torrid pace.  There is some concern that similar to the way he starts every season, it will take Stanton a little while to get back to normal.

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Players On The Trade Block

As is usually the case when a team is struggling the way that the Marlins are, there are several players that are being mentioned as possible trade targets.  Starting pitchers Mat Latos and Dan Haren, who both have contracts that expire at the end of the season, have been mentioned the most in trade discussions.

Position players such as Michael Morse and Jeff Baker have also been tossed in the mix.  Whether or not the Marlins pull the trigger on any prospective deals will depend on how well they play when the team is back on the field.

If Miami can string some wins together and close the gap between the teams ahead of them, they may keep the band together and try to make a run at the playoffs.  If they come out of the break struggling the way they have much of the season, expect players to get moved before the July 31st trade deadline.

Dan Jennings As Manager

More than a few eyebrows were raised when the Marlins fired former manager Mike Redmond and replaced him with then-general manager Dan Jennings.  The transition from the front office to the dugout is one that isn’t seen very often, but what made the move even more peculiar was that Jennings had zero experience as a manager.

The players were not particularly happy with the change, and neither were the fans.  It only made matters worse when the team struggled just as much under Jennings as it did when Redmond was calling the shots, but the latter did such a good job with the team in 2014 that many thought he should have been given a little more time to right the ship this season.

There has also been talk of Jennings returning as the Marlins manager in 2016 despite the lack of any rhyme or reason as to why he would be a better choice than bringing in someone with actual managing experience and a track record of some kind of success at the major league level.

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