Marlins Must Accelerate Path to Contention

Via Miami Marlins

Rebuilding Process Lingers Far Too Long for Fan Base

The Marlins’ lack of any consistent success has long alienated South Florida baseball fanatics. We have seen more than enough of the same disappointing storyline. It’s time to take the next step, and really aim to beef up the Marlins roster.

Coming into 2022, the front office did make some decent moves, such as signing free-agent outfielders Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler to multi-year deals. Neither proven veteran has reached expectations this season, despite both having good track records, but they failed to reach expectations this season. Coming off a World Series MVP in 2021, Soler started this season hot, but eventually cooled off. Even further, he has spent significant time on the Injured List. Garcia, however, has really struggled to get going from the outset, himself spending some time rehabbing injuries recently.

The sport found itself in an early hole, with the lockout delaying the start of the season until late April. After settling the lockout, then-CEO Derek Jeter felt that he was not on the same page with his colleagues. Because of this, Jeter swiftly resigned just before the delayed season began.

On paper, the Marlins seemed to be on the right track, bringing in veteran sluggers to complement their young core. By all outward appearances, the starting rotation alone looked about as good as any. The question was if team personnel could sustain such promise. At first, things started off quite well, especially for outfielder Jesus Sanchez and star second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr.

Unfortunately, Sanchez’s went into a deep slump, which left it up to others to fill the void. In addition, starting pitcher Pablo Lopez was dominant at the beginning of the season, but unable to sustain that success. Luckily, team ace Sandy Alcantara took over where Lopez left off. He’s still among the top Cy Young candidates in the National League. In fact, he has more complete games alone than nearly all other teams have in total.

Myself always an optimist, I have stuck by the Marlins all along. But now even I am eager to see more. Teams can’t win while barely scoring any runs for long stretches. In addition, the manager and coaches need to be more proactive in fielding a competitive team every day. It’s true that injuries will happen, but there needs to be strong contingency plans for how to overcome them. Another doubt in my mind involves the other coaches. Bench coach James Rowson has always had a reputation of escalating his hitters to the top of the charts. Unfortunately, his luck seems to have run out in Miami. Hitting coach Marcus Thames is one of the best in the business, but we continue to struggle scoring runs.

In this writer’s personal opinion, Chisholm’s injury was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. Being unable to participate in the All-Star Game really blew a huge opportunity for fast-fading sport. Jazz is truly one of the few personalities who can boost it with national recognition. I get that we have a deep farm system, but that’s not enough. The minor leaguers are still unproven and somewhat raw; we need more veteran depth, which obviously costs money. It’s high-time for our front office and management to open their wallets and spend.

My Thoughts on Team Personnel

In 2017, we simply gave up on arguably the best starting outfield, including the National League MVP. Yelich, Ozuna, and Stanton have all had their struggles since leaving South Florida. Had they stayed together, it could’ve been the beginning of a new dynasty in baseball. The tragic death of Jose Fernandez also may have influenced that as well.

One player who clearly has underachieved is third baseman/outfielder Brian Anderson. When he first debuted, I told everyone that I knew he was going to be a stud. Everyone thought I was crazy, but his strong throwing arm, defensive skills, and versatility have shown him to be well above average. Injuries have kept him from really breaking out, but I still believe that it will happen.

This team has long prided itself on having an outstanding starting rotation, which is absolutely valid. However, coaches have relied too much on the bullpen and more inferior options. So-called “bullpen games” really do more harm than good. It’s important to let our starters go deeper into games and have relievers readily available to support them. I remain under the firm belief that our rotation is among MLB’s best. We have tons of depth, but we also need to bring in some quality veterans as well.

Elieser Hernandez, for one, has really regressed this season. As well, relying heavily on journeyman arms like Nick Neidert and Tommy Nance will simply not cut it. Plus, we have a tendency to want to rush star prospects to MLB too soon. Just because the main guys go down doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to jump into unproven rookies.

Previously, Isan Diaz had a memorable debut but was unable to make it last. Outfielder Lewis Brinson, one of my personal favorite recent Marlins, had inconsistent results. He had some nice games during his time in Miami, and he could’ve built on that success even further. Being a local kid should’ve given him more of a chance to make it here.

We have seen a number of former Marlins struggle here, only to thrive with other teams. Players such as Andrew Miller, Brad Hand, and Cameron Maybin really make you think what could’ve been. It’s about finding out exactly how players can help the team win, and then committing maintaining to those roles. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. has also done a nice job handling what he has to work with.

Assessing Team Needs for 2023 & Beyond

From what I can see, this team is really not that far off from being a contender. We just have to keep players healthy and use them correctly. Jazz Chisholm Jr. is a perennial MVP candidate, and Sandy Alcantara will likely compete for multiple Cy Young Awards. When we first signed Soler and Garcia this offseason, I was on-board with both, but things didn’t go as planned. In addition, team officials talked about using Garcia in centerfield, but never even re-considered doing that once Jesus Sanchez faltered. Jorge Soler previously primarily played as the designated hitter, but the Marlins gave him a role in left field.

It’s important to stick to plans and keep all options open, rather than just throwing in the towel when struggling. On top of that, it’s important to make sure injuries have completely healed before the player returns. Short-term injuries often drag out much longer, and those players tend to fall out of favor.

One example is pitcher Max Meyer, who we heard nothing but praise about for quite a while. It was apparent that he would soon get his Major League debut, but perhaps it came too soon. Because of this, he suffered a serious elbow injury that often hinders one’s career.

Jesus Aguilar is a proven commodity who been able to stick around longer. It was a huge shock to see him waived amidst the slumps of both youngster Lewin Diaz and veteran Garrett Cooper at first base. Cooper himself has always struggled to remain healthy. As far as the other young players, it’s well-known that coaches and staff were hesitant to put J.J. Bleday in centerfield every day, but here we are. Jon Berti missed significant time with injuries, but he still leads MLB in stolen bases. That fact alone should illustrate how valuable he is.

On the other hand, we do have a number of youngsters who have opened some eyes. For one, previously-unknown Huascar Brazoban literally came from nowhere to be arguably our most dependable reliever right now. Catcher Nick Fortes has yet to complete a full season in MLB, yet he’s already showing that he can be a potential starting catcher.

When we first acquired Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser, I initially thought that the Marlins could do better. However, both have pitched quite well so far. Not only that, but both of them have real closer potential. Another trade that shocked me was when we essentially dumped Anthony Bass and Zach Pop, only receiving an unknown infielder named Jordan Groshans. Despite his struggles last season, Bass was one of our best relievers in 2022. It makes no sense to just drop two key pitchers for such a question mark. Another name to note is utility infielder Charles Leblanc. A few months ago, nobody knew who he was. Same goes for Luke Williams, who can also play in the outfield.

Final Summary

The Miami Marlins got lucky with several “diamonds in the rough”, but they failed with others who fell through the cracks. You can’t just let players go to make room for the future. You need to be absolutely certain that the newcomers are ready to handle the position first. We have won two World Series Championships, but still have way too many losing seasons. The fans saw loanDepot Park as a new era, and they deserve better. Sooner or later, something has to give.

Subscribe to our YouTube!
Sign up for our Newsletter!

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts

Mark Cuban
After a bizarre inbound sequence during the Maverick’s heartbreaking loss against the […]
Sweet 16
With the eight teams remaining winning three straight to reach the Elite […]
Micah Schrewsberry
Micah Schrewsberry is on the move. Notre Dame moves on from the […]
Thomas Tuchel Julian Nagelsmann
The international break halting club football action for a week doesn’t stop […]

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

%d bloggers like this: