At least part of Jeffrey Loria’s vision for the 2012 season has come to pass: the Marlins broke the 2-million mark for attendance this season. In a season tainted by a poor win-loss record, the excitement generated by the opening of a new, air-conditioned ballpark still managed to attract more fans than any other season in franchise history except the inaugural 1993 season and the wild-card World Series-winning 1997 season. Given the legions of naysayers writing about Ozzie’s Castro gaffe and Loria’s shady shenanigans, it seems that Miami really is ready for big-league baseball, as long as the fans can count on a cool, dry place to watch a game.
Anecdotes and comments from fans who actually went to the park and caught a game seem to have successfully countered the river of negative ink from a generally hostile out-of-town press and those “fans” who seem to be incapable of finding any shred of a positive outlook regarding the Marlins.
As we race to the end of the season and the collective shudder that will finally put the season in the past, fans have a number of positive to look forward to for next year. A few highlights:
- Giancarlo Stanton is a fast-rising star with a bat that commands nationwide attention when he comes to the plate with runners on base.
- Rob Brantly, in a short time since his callup, has clearly demonstrated his potential as next years’ starting on-field commander.
- The combination of Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio could cement the Marlins as a base stealing dynasty for the decade.
- The Marlins have the potential to have one of the top rotations in the league next year, and Steve Cishek looks like he might be one of the league’s best closers.
What needs fixing? Hitting. The Marlins need to devote some serious off-season resources to fixing this year’s abysmal hitting. The team will never be competitive with the number of stranded base runners that is the hallmark of this season. Timely base hits are critical to success for next year, and beefing up the number of extra base hits would go a long way toward making the Marlins the contenders that they are capable of being. I don’t know if Eduardo Perez is the wrong hitting coach for the team, or if half of the roster simply regressed this year, but a substantial improvement on offense is necessary for a run at the pennant next year.
As an outsider, it also seems to me that a clear-cut chain of command will help smooth out some of the ripples in the clubhouse. If rumors of the easy access that Hanley Ramirez had to the front office are true, it is an indicator of a leadership failure. The front office (Loria and Samson) needs to set the budget and hire the GM. It should be up to the GM to do the hiring and firing of players and coaches. When the front office reaches down to make roster moves and offer preferential treatment to certain players, it completely undermines the ability of the GM and manager to do their jobs effectively.
As a final comment: It was nice to see how well our guys supported the Chipper Jones farewell tour. The guys has been a thorn in our side for a long time, and treating him like a respected adversary was definitely the classy way to handle it. Consummate pros like Chipper are not as common as they used to be, and the Braves will be a poorer team on his retirement.