Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Marlins have been active this offseason, and after a hundred loss season, that shouldn’t be surprising. Many of the moves that Miami has made has been strengthening positions that really struggled last year. Much of the problem last year can be attributed to the Marlins lack of experience on the diamond.
If you add up the MLB games played prior to 2013 by the Marlins infield (Ed Lucas, Adeiny Hechavarria, Donovan Solano and Logan Morrison), you have a total of 412 games played. If you remove Morrison from the equation (he only played in about half the games last year), that number drops to 134 games played combined for the other 3 players.
With this much youth on a team, it is easy to develop bad habits. These bad habits occur when there are not enough veterans to show the proper way to prepare and handle your business, or the veterans that a team does have are not leading in an effective way.
Judging by the embarrassing story that emerged during the year regarding hitting coach Tino Martinez and some of the younger players picking up baseballs after batting practice, it would be a safe to assume that Miami may not have had the strongest leadership. I am not condoning Martinez’s behavior in the least, but the younger players obviously were not being taught how things work by the veterans on the team.
Now adding veteran presence doesn’t necessarily transalate to a winning culture. In order to establish a strong winning culture, you have to add players who know what it takes to get to the level that you are trying to achieve. That is where I believe the Marlins have succeeded with some of their recent signings. These players might not have the most talent, but they do have a common denominator between them.
Rafael Furcal, Garrett Jones and Jarrod Saltalamacchia all played on teams that made it to the postseason in 2013. Furcal might not have been active due to an arm injury, but with almost 60 postseason games in his career, it is safe to say that he knows how to get there. Garrett Jones has been a part of a successful rebuild with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who finally saw their hard work pay off last year with a trip to the playoffs for the first time since Sid Bream. Jones may have only seen 2 at bats, but he knows what it takes to get there. Finally, Salty was an integral part of the most recent world championship team.
I don’t believe that these three players ended up on the Marlins by accident. It appears to me that Miami is looking to change their culture by adding players who know what it takes to get to the playoffs and are willing to put in the work necessary to make that happen. Once the young players are able to absorb what is expected of them, this team can begin to cultivate an atmosphere of winning that the Marlins have not seen since 2003. I for one, am excited to see what these players are able to bring to the Marlins.