Even as the Miami Marlins continue to lose games, third baseman Starlin Castro continues to get better at the plate.
Don Mattingly is right. The number 100 is a bad number. In the case of the Miami Marlins, it means futility. It means the ball club hasn’t done enough to win. It means this is still an organization trying to clear a path for success rather than failure.
On Friday night the Marlins lost their 100th game of the 2019 season against just 53 wins. Thought of moving ahead of the learning curve and surprising doubters in the National League East never materialized. There are nine games left in the season – one many of us want to forget.
If anything, I see this season as the trailer of things to come, but not soon enough. There is plenty of promise with the pitching staff and prospects who will turn heads in Spring Training. But the real determination of how fat this franchise will move the needle next season is how Mattingly, the manager armed with a new two-year deal, can change direction, make these players believe they can win and then help them achieve that.
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Friday night, the Marlins lost 6-4 to the Washington Nationals, but a veteran showed he is still very much trying to win ballgames via the long ball and giving the front office pause to retain him next season. Starlin Castro smacked his 21st home run of the season and is now the team leader in that category. The second half of 2019 has been a showcase for the third baseman, an audition for the 2020 season whether it is here in Miami or somewhere else.
I wasn’t a fan of keeping Castro around next year with the front office continuing to rebuild. Now I believe it is a must.
"As Joe Frisaro of MLB.com wrote, “Castro went deep off Aníbal Sánchez with a solo shot in the fourth inning. It was his 21st, matching his personal season-high set with the Yankees in 2016. The 29-year-old also has 80 RBIs, a personal best.”"
Things continue to improve for the infielder, with a chance to better his home run total over the next few games.
"“He’s been a manager’s dream,” Mattingly said. “You wouldn’t think about not playing him. And he doesn’t want to not play, ever. He’s just a guy who has been consistent and has gotten better as the season has gone on. There were some rough patches early, but he’s been on a pretty good roll.”"
Now getting back to that No. 100. There are a few things to point out. The Marlins have made changes all around the diamond this season with the batting order, position players and then the rotation and bullpen. There are things to get excited about. But as Mattingly stated after the game, the meaning of 100 losses is something this team must look at and decide how it will change the culture of losing in south Florida.
"“One hundred is a bad number,” Mattingly added. “It’s one of those things you don’t really ever want to get to. But sometimes the road where we’re wanting to go is a little bumpy. It feels a little bumpy at times, but I’m proud of the way the guys are playing.”"