What would prevent the Miami Marlins from having a successful season? Here are a few things the ballclub must avoid in 2020.
The Miami Marlins didn’t just change their roster this offseason. The front office made changes to the front office also made changes that will have a direct effect on the team’s performance this year, regardless of how many games they play in 2020.
One of the “major” moves was a change in the hitting philosophy of the team. James Rowson was hired from the Minnesota Twins to be Don Mattingly’s bench coach. While some Marlins fans might have viewed this as a lateral move, many insiders agree this was a big deal, mainly because Rowson was instrumental in the cause and part of the reason Minnesota hit 307 home runs in 2019 which best in the Majors.
The Twins also hit .270 as a team, which was second-best in all of baseball last season. The hope is Rowson’s work with the Marlins in Spring Training and now as the organization prepares for Opening Day will mean more runs, more home runs, and more wins over the 60-game season.
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The Marlins must be aggressive from the start, which means Rowson must work his magic early and often. This is a team that could sneak up on the rest of the league. If so, it could be a playoff berth for the first time in 17 seasons.
But if the Miami Marlins stumble, it could be another long season. Here are three things the Marlins cannot do if they wish to have a winning season.
Get off to a slow start
As one of my good friends continues to tell me, the Miami Marlins must forget about a marathon season and swing for the fences with every at-bat.
That’s a nice theory to have, but this team just needs to play good fundamental baseball and hopefully, everything else will take care of itself. The Marlins are a better team on paper. Now, they must prove they are better on the field and at the plate.
Because of the shortened season, every team in MLB must get start hot and figure out how to stay that way in a two-month span. For those teams that have playoff experience, it isn’t an issue. For a team that toils at the bottom of the division standings, there is some work to do.
Miami looked like a team ready to turn a corner in the first part of Spring Training. But the players who helped the ball club over the first 20 games are not the same as the ones who are training in Jupiter and Miami.
There is a learning curve here.
If the team can get off to a fast start, rely on their starting pitching and find a gem or two on the roster this season, I believe this is a team that can make some noise in a pennant race.
Dismantle the bullpen
Brandon Kintzler was brought to Miami for a reason. It was the same reason that Sergio Romo was brought to the Marlins just a year ago. The closer’s role with this team has been a touchy subject as Mattingly has played with a hot potato of sorts in his time as manager of the team.
Kintzler must take control of the position and keep it the entire season.
The Marlins bullpen was a wasteland last season, gaining leads it could not hold, ruining solid outings by starters. The relievers on the roster didn’t shoulder all the blame as run support was weak. But this season, everyone must do their part to hold onto leads and pitching effective innings when called upon.
Yimi Garcia, Stephen Tarpley and Sterling Sharp were added to the roster for a reason. The Marlins front office identified the need to strengthen this area in the offseason and did so. There could be a few surprises as well, given pitchers who started games last season, Robert Dugger and Elieser Hernandez could join the bullpen as long relievers.
It’s a good problem for the coaching staff to have. It could also make for some interesting strategy in the late innings of games for Mattingly and his staff.
Rely on just one bat
Brian Anderson is the one player I believe the Marlins should build around. Lewin Diaz is the prospect I believe will surprise many this season. Jonathan Villar is the Marlins player who may be stretched a bit thin this season. Isan Diaz is the player who must show marked improvement from 2019 to 2020.
If you look at the components of the Marlins roster, this is a team that is much better even before the season starts. But if the coaching staff and front office rely on a couple of players to make a move toward the top of the standings, then the redemption of this organization moves nowhere.
The Miami Marlins must rely on players working for the common goal and not individual success. The additions to the every-day roster and the pitching staff are somewhat dramatic, but not unexpected. If the ball club wasn’t shuffled, then this conversation might be about how to plan for the offseason once the regular season ends.
Mattingly has plenty of talent at his disposal. He also knows there are prospects waiting patiently for their chance to show they can play. Will all opportunities lead the team to the postseason? It’s a chess match I want to see played out, with the Marlins making many right moves.