Will the Miami Marlins have a good enough season that Don Mattingly will garner Manager of the Year recognition?
No member of the Marlins organization may be under scrutiny more so this season than manager Don Mattingly. Entering his fifth season, he has reached a crossroads despite being given a two-year contract extension prior to the end of the 2019 season.
How Mattingly, who has a 722-733 lifetime managerial record, handles the changes to the Marlins roster this year will determine the success or failure of the franchise. While it’s still a foregone conclusion by many that Miami will once again hover around the basement of the National League East, those you talk to you in South Florida and throughout the organization have a different viewpoint.
There is plenty to be excited about, and with an infusion of veteran talent mixed with prospects who are almost on the brink of making their Major-League debut, I can understand how some believe Miami could be a surprise factor in the National League. That’s not saying they’re going to make the playoffs, but they will be better than many predict.
And should Mattingly be able to corral his roster and push it further than it has been since 2016, then he should warrant Manager of the Year recognition by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
The Marlins have is a decent core to build around, headlined by Brian Anderson, Sandy Alcantara, Jorge Alfaro, and Isan Diaz. Add veterans like Matt Joyce, Matt Kemp and Francisco Cervelli on offense and Yimi Garcia, Brandon Kintzler, and Stephen Tarpley in the bullpen, and this team looks much better on paper than it has since Derek Jeter took over as a CEO of this organization.
Mattingly is walking a fine line. He knows that his extension was met with opposition by some baseball analysts and local and national media. Regardless of the fact that he is one of the most well-liked individuals in Marlins history, and has shown the ability to win in Los Angeles with the Dodgers, it has not translated in South Florida.
The Marlins front office made too many moves for there not to be an improved record this coming season. Miami has waited for players to develop in the minors and has not rushed them along for fear of ruining any kind of progress they have made.
This could also be the season that Alcantara, Smith, and Pablo Lopez take the next leap toward becoming better than average by major-league standards.
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Mattingly has been criticized in the past for his strategic planning and the moves he has made with his bullpen late in games. Those things must be corrected. This year, he should be able to rely on a more confident and mature starting rotation. He should also be able to count on veterans who will help stabilize one of the worst bullpens in the majors in 2019.
To say that Mattingly will rely on his roster to help determine his fate after this season, might be the biggest truth of this organization. The men who wear the Marlins uniform will count on their skipper to push all the right buttons to produce a winner. It’s one of the more obvious but least discussed topics of the off-season.
And as Spring Training has begun, more eyes will shift towards Mattingly and his staff to finally produced a winner. If not, any talk of progress made with this organization stops where Mattingly’s tenure end.