It’s Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly’s time to prove he can produce a winner in South Florida.
The fifth-year skipper knows this is the year where doubters could become believers in what the front office and coaching staff have been preaching the past two seasons. The changes in the roster, the additions to the minor league system. The progress that has been made across the entire franchise – all geared for this kind of moment.
Mattingly is surveying talent and evaluating his players individually like they are delicate pieces to a puzzle that is almost complete. It’s not to say that he is worried about how everything fits into place, rather he is taking the time and care to make sure he is thorough with his evaluations.
It’s possible his future in South Florida depends on it.
Another season with 100 losses or no steady progress almost forces team CEO Derek Jeter to make a change at the top of the food chain. Everything starts and stops with what Mattingly is doing to build a winner on the field.
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While reading scouting reports and seeing what is said across the baseball landscape is fine, Mattingly will rely on his coaching staff, his players and what he sees with his own two eyes.
"“I read the stuff, the ‘this guy’s nasty’ and stuff like that,” Mattingly said via Sun-Sentinel.com writer Jordan McPherson.“I really don’t put a lot of stock into it. I just want to see if the guy’s getting the ball over the plate, what his breaking ball looks like, what the hitters look like when they’re in there. I know we want to pump everything up, but I’m going to pump the brakes a bit and watch the games and see what the opposition tells us.”"
The Marlins have a wealth of talent on the mound, growing depth in the infield and plenty of questions about who will remain on the roster in the outfield. These are great problems to have as Miami has built a baseball team from the foundation and floor by floor.
Mattingly has not had the kind of success in Miami that he enjoyed out in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. He has posted a 275-371 record, with a winning percentage of .426. That must change if the Marlins are going to make some progress, any progress this coming season.
This is by far the best roster Mattingly has had to work with since Jeter took over the day-to-day operations of the company. Now, with more talent comes more expectations. Not only from the front office and players but the fans hoping this year produces winning baseball.