Although he will remain the team’s manager through 2019, what does the future hold for Miami Marlins skipper Don Mattingly?
Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly bought into team CEO Derek Jeter’s plan for the organization. The skipper just completed his third season in South Florida, one that was full of growing pains and angst as the fan base dwindled as the losses continued to pile up.
At times, Mattingly was in a “no-win” situation given the youth an inexperience of the pitching staff and the injuries that mounted throughout the season. Maybe he deserved a medal of honor for making changes daily and keeping the team’s composure in check for 161 games.
Now, with a guarantee he would be back this coming season, the question on many minds, including myself, is how long does the former Yankees great keep his job if the organization continues to lose year after year?
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com answered the question in his most recent “Inbox” feature.
"“Mattingly’s four-year contract expires after next season. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he and the Marlins agree on an extension either before the start of Spring Training or before/during the regular season,” Frisaro said. “The Marlins like Mattingly and the calming influence he has on a young roster. I could see the two sides agreeing on a deal, which would create more continuity. So I’m not looking at Mattingly as a lame duck in 2019.”"
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Mattingly has been as much of a salesman in the growth process of this rebuilding project. He has said all the right things, looked the part of cheerleader and told reporters countless times he believes in what the new ownership and front office are doing to change the culture in the Miami community.
"“I think he will be part of a long-range plan. As for his staff, there is usually some level of turnover after every season,” Frisaro added."
That staff turnover included pitching coach Juan Nieves and coach Perry Hill, who is regarded as one of the best in the business. Facts are facts. No matter what the coaching staff looked like and no matter how many fans wanted to see Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and others back in Miami uniforms, the team wasn’t winning and something had to be done to change that.
There have been nine seasons of losing and 15 seasons without a playoff berth. That’s enough to drive even the most ardent fan a little crazy. This community showed it disapproval for the way the team was run by Jeter and the front office with low numbers at the gate.
Mattingly’s even-keel personality is the perfect balance for veterans who have voiced displeasure in the losses and the energy of the youngsters getting their feet wet in the shallow end at Marlins Park. He enjoyed success in Los Angeles as the Dodgers’ skipper before across the baseball landscape to find a home in the warm confines of Miami.
Mattingly is currently managing a group of MLB All-Stars, including J.T. Realmuto in Japan on tour. It may be the last time we see both manager and player on the same side of the dugout as the catcher is looking for a new place to call home.
Should a deal be worked out with another team, add finding a successor who can play with a youthful pitching staff to Mattingly’s growing list of “things to do” this offseason.
For now, the idea within the organization is to move forward with Mattingly making the in-game decisions. If the Marlins show improvement this season, and I expect them to do just that, the decision to keep their manager is a no-brainer. If not, then the whispers will begin to get louder if Jeter makes a change.
I’m betting on Mattingly being here for the 2020 season. After that, how long he is in the dugout is anyone’s guess.