Are the Miami Marlins better now after a 10-31 start to the season and a 57-105 record for the 2019 season?
Now that the Marlins season is over and the organization and its fans can exhale, its time to look back a bit to a story I wrote in May asking whether the blueprint the front office used this season worked.
I think you can make a case for both the affirmative and negative in this situation. A 57-win season on paper looks like a natural disaster touched down in the middle of South Florida. But further examination tells a different story.
I’ll reiterate my stance from before, that the Marlins gambled with their future by trading off star players for future success. While it looks like the deals for both Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna are working in Miami’s favor, I am not ready to say the trade that involved Christian Yelich and the Milwaukee Brewers is a true victory just yet.
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Yelich was on pace to win a second NL MVP award before he fractured his kneecap against his former team. Jordan Yamamoto, Isan Diaz, Lewis Brinson, and Monte Harrison could all figure in the team’s plan next season, but until they provide consistency on the major-league level, Yelich is still winning this deal.
The trades Marlins made at the deadline this year could ultimately have a greater impact on the team’s future and the 2019 Draft class may turn out to be the best in Marlins history.
At the time I wrote the story in May, the Marlins were a league-worst 10-27 and sinking faster than the Titanic. Baseball futility within reach and there was a strong belief Mattingly would either get fired during the season or would not be extended afterward.
A 41-78 record the rest of 2019 doesn’t scream success. But it was better than the first two months of the season.
It’s fair to say 2020 must be the turning point of the Derek Jeter era of Marlins baseball. Now that Mattingly has been given an extension and minor-league prospects are expected to produce, if the Marlins cannot increase their win total by 15 games, I believe those who were calling for Jeter’s head prior to the beginning of the season will scream louder and with more authority. And the decision to keep Mattingly on board will prove to be one of the most ridiculed moves in the history of the franchise.
It’s not now or never for the Miami Marlins, but it is pretty close. The natives in South Florida are restless, not having been to the playoffs since 2003 and it not experiencing a winning season since 2009. Any way you look at it, those figures are glaring red marks on a bad progress report.
The moral to the story, as I try to put a positive spin on it, is that the Marlins will be a contender, but it will still take time. The original game plan must be pushed back further. Players may need a little bit more time to develop including the starting pitchers and young roster players who are still learning to hit on the Major League level.
There will be turnover once again this off-season. The Marlins should be a player in free agency, but they’re not going to extend their payroll any farther than they have to.
Fan-favorites Martin Prado, Starlin Castro, Neil Walker, and Curtis Granderson will more than likely move on to other organizations. It’s time for new faces to step in and become centerpieces of this organization.
There is plenty to get excited about with players like Brian Anderson and Diaz in the lineup each day. And in terms of pitching, Sandy Alcantara is a legitimate Cy Young candidate and Caleb Smith should improve next year.
I’m excited about what is to come, but I’m guarded and optimistic. That’s all Marlins fans can be right now, however looking into the future, things are brighter than they might seem right at this moment.