What’s next? MO2 explores options for struggling Marlins

What’s next? MO2 explores options for struggling Marlins


The Miami Marlins are struggling, having lost two straight at San Francisco while collecting just five hits in those games. What are their options to get on track? MO2 takes a look.

By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd

What now?

The Miami Marlins are in a bit of a quandary. They’ve lost the first two of their four-game series at chilly San Francisco. The temperatures are cold. It’s windy, and players like Jazz Chisholm Jr. are out there wearing hoodies under their jerseys, just to brave the elements.

Miami’s MLB team clearly is out of its sunny and warm South Florida comfort zone.

Oracle Park, unlike loanDepot park, also does not have a retractable roof.

Game time temperature on Friday night was 54 degrees at first pitch, and the Marlins’ offense has cooled off as well.

In the first two games, the Marlins have combined to score three runs on five total hits. They lost 3-0 to the Giants on Thursday, and 5-3 on Friday.

Miami’s three runs came courtesy of the long ball. Jazz homered to lead off the game Friday, and with two-outs in the ninth inning, the Marlins capitalized on a gift. Third baseman Wilmer Flores’ throwing error on Miguel Rojas’ routine ground ball extended the game.

Jesus Aguilar responded with a two-run homer, just Miami’s third hit. Those final two runs went unearned to Giants closer Jake McGee, who appeared in a non-save situation.

The setback dropped the Marlins to 8-11 on the season, and 0-2 on their three-city, 10-game road trip.

With frustration mounting over lack of run production, what do the Marlins do now?

The Marlins’ fan base, which has been very passionate this season, is calling for lineup changes, and roster moves to the point of bringing up not ready prospects.

MO2 cautions all to pump the brakes a bit, and survey the entire situation.

From our vantage point, we offer manager Don Mattingly and the front office, in our humble opinion, some options:

Best offensive outfield combination:

We all knew Starling Marte’s rib injury was a big blow, and it’s clearly proving out that way. The Marlins already have said they’re committed to giving Lewis Brinson first dibs at playing regularly.

In terms of their big picture, the Marlins want more answers on Brinson to see if he has a role, either as a regular or a reserve.

This decision has MO2 wondering if this season is more of an evaluation period, or is the intention now to see if this team is indeed a playoff contender? Granted, no one in the organization is going to publicly say: We’re building for tomorrow after reaching the postseason with many of the same players in 2020. And the answer could be a bit of both: Yes, they want to compete for the players, while also continuing to develop and evaluate.

Still, to stay in the thick of things until Marte returns, why not strongly consider going with the best offensive outfield combination available? That would mean, starting Adam Duvall, Corey Dickerson and Garrett Cooper. Defensively, either Dickerson or Duvall could play center, with the other going to left. And if the Marlins are leading late, defensive changes can be made.

Granted, it’s not ideal defensively, because Brinson is a better center field options. Magneuris Sierra is another left-handed hitting option, and he may get some starts as well. But by most evaluation accounts, he’s more of role player off the bench.

With Marte out, now is the time for the veterans, especially those who may not factor into the 2022 plans, to see if they can spark some run production. They have the history of production, and frankly, either Dickerson or Duvall could be trade candidates midseason at the deadline.

There’s plenty of time over the course of 162 games to get additional reads on whether Brinson and/or Sierra has a role beyond this year.

Figuring out third:

The Marlins sound optimistic that Brian Anderson (left oblique) will be ready to return about the time he’s eligible to come off the 10-day injured list. Of course, that would be the best case scenario.

In the meantime, Mattingly has said, Jon Berti will be getting most of the time at third base. And if he needs a breather, shortstop Miguel Rojas can shift to third.

Berti is a solid utility player, who has a track record of being a steady performer playing regularly for a week or two.

Our question then is examining the decision to promote Jose Devers, making his first MLB callup, over second baseman Isan Diaz?

Again, what is the best offensive combination? Anderson is a big bat to replace.

Diaz, in the eyes of the organization, is a potential big league regular who needs more seasoning. He competed for the starting second base spot, which went to Jazz.

If it’s just 10 days that Anderson is out, one combination could have been to go with Diaz against right-handers, move Jazz to short and Rojas to third. Or at least have Diaz and Berti split time.

Granted, the organization is seeing these players regularly, and have all the necessary information to make these decisions. The media is limited to its exposure to watching these players. So maybe Diaz hasn’t gotten enough reps at the plate, or hasn’t looked sharp. We don’t know.

Perhaps Devers also could be a spark. He’s a left-handed hitter, who lacks power. But he’s athletic, has plus speed and is a contact hitter.

Stay the course:

The Marlins also have another option: staying the course.

Whenever teams struggle, the first reaction is to mix things up, make roster moves and maybe rush the development of prospects.

Maybe the best decision is to turn the page from the past two games, and stick with the lineup at hand?

After all, this is just a couple of games, and the organization made the decisions to go with Brinson in center and Berti at third.

As easy as it is to demand changes every time a combination of players doesn’t work out, there is a risk to overreacting.

One of Mattingly’s strengths is his even demeanor. CEO Derek Jeter also has been extremely patient with the construction of this organization. Does he deviate and make more sweeping or drastic moves based on small sample sizes?

Keep this in mind, if the manager and/or front office seem to be making hasty decisions, the players will know it. This can cause internal friction in the clubhouse, as players start pressing, and wondering if they don’t produce every time, they may be next to be replaced.

The Marlins the past few years have developed a terrific clubhouse culture, with players buying in and supporting each other. So now may simply be a time to take a deep breath, and see how the road trip plays out.


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