As 2018 comes to a close, the Miami Marlins are still working to improve the organization for the 2019 season. Will this be a better team next year?
As soon as the final out was recorded on the 63-98 season for the Miami Marlins, the front office began working on improvements for 2019 and beyond.
The process actually began before last season when Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman took over as owners of the ballclub, making drastic changes to the roster, making a blueprint of stadium improvements and working to improve the culture not only of the team but within the baseball community in South Florida.
The Marlins didn’t blow anyone away with their efforts on the field in 2018, but the minor league system is better. The talent is young and growing. There is a real commitment to winning in the future, even if it cannot be seen with the way the current roster is built.
The 2019 season might be another losing one, but there will be an improvement. Manager Don Mattingly, who is in the last year of his contract, will continue to manipulate lineups, work with the pitching staff and find the best lineup daily that will bring more wins than the team experienced in 2018.
I predicted last season the Marlins could win 70 games. I fell short. This season, I don’t think 70-72 wins is out of the realm of possibility. Youth will still be served every night, but the rookies who struggled last year will build on what has already been done.
As the door closes on 2018, here is a look at three resolutions for the new year for the Miami Marlins.
Resolution: To get a deal done for J.T. Realmuto sooner rather than later – I have to face the reality that J.T. Realmuto will not be wearing one of those new sleek Marlins uniforms in 2019. And if he is on the Opening Day roster, it only means he will be traded in-season.
Trade talk has slowed down a bit because of the holidays, but that does not mean teams aren’t interested in making a deal. San Diego, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and other teams have expressed interest.
I still believe a deal gets done after the new year, but for now, Realmuto is still a member of the Marlins organization.
Resolution: Find an everyday first baseman – The Marlins believe they have two candidates already on the roster in Peter O’Brien and Garrett Cooper. I also think they may try Martin Prado at the other corner while Brian Anderson takes over at third on a full-time basis.
There aren’t many prospects in the minors to look at but there are other possibilities. Pedro Alvarez could make the 25-man roster and would provide power in the middle of the order. The team could also sign a free agent veteran to come in and compete for the spot.
If anyone is listening, Nick Markakis is still out there and would provide a veteran bat and clubhouse leadership.
Resolution: Rely on your veterans once again – The Marlins should start the season with three veterans in the rotation as the organization brings its young arms along slowly.
Jose Urena should be the team’s Opening Day pitcher. Dan Straily should be the No. 2 starter like last season. Here’s hoping he can stay healthy in 2019. Straily is an innings-eater. Wei-Yin Chen will more than likely be the team’s No. 5 starter.
Chen is a solid pitcher and home and a disaster on the road. Hopefully, the coaching staff can help him find more consistency in 2019.
Smith may not be ready to pitch because of a pectoral injury. Alcantara must be more consistent. Don’t be surprised if Richards and Lopez round out the rotation.