Marlins need quality starts not new voice
Rumblings already? According to the Miami Herald, the Marlins’ slow start has raised speculation that manager Mike Redmond is on the hot seat. The paper added, if a change is made, Mets Triple-A manager Wally Backman could be a possible replacement.
After starting off 3-10, and getting swept in a four-game set at the Mets, clearly there is a sense of urgency. But is there outright panic to make a managerial change imminent? From what I’m hearing, that’s not the case.
In conversations with a number of people connected to the situation, I’ve heard everything from the Herald story is completely false to, yes, where there is smoke there is fire.
The speculation is quickly spreading, and it won’t calm down until the club starts winning.
The reality is, the Marlins don’t need a new manager, or a different voice in the clubhouse. They need some quality starts. They have five of them in 13 games, with two from Dan Haren. The rotation also took a huge blow when Henderson Alvarez went on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
Miami’s starters are 2-8 with a 5.23 ERA. Only the Brewers’ 5.78 has a higher ERA in the N.L. With the starters struggling, the bullpen has logged 47 2/3 innings, which matches the Giants for the most in the N.L.
Until the pitching sorts itself out, there will be trouble, regardless of the manager.
I can also say the Marlins were prepared and showed signs of coming together in Spring Training, but something has been off since the season started. So if there are rumblings now, it has to be based strictly on what has transpired from April 6 to this weekend.
Still, as of Saturday at New York, the sense around the squad was no one was panicking. Disappointed? Absolutely. But from a number of team officials, the mood was this would turn around. Did something changed on Sunday regarding Redmond, who knows? I don’t think so.
Also, as of today, with the team off before opening up a three-game set at Philadelphia on Tuesday, there was no sense of panic. The squad is catching its collective breath, regrouping, and getting ready as normal.
Backing things up a bit, the 1-5 homestand to open the season clearly stunned the entire organization. Some uneasiness from management filtered into the clubhouse, enough for the players to notice.
What happened in the days leading up to Opening Day on April 6 against Atlanta also became a topic of discussion internally. In the final days of Spring Training, the Marlins regulars were getting a bulk of the playing time. They were starting to click. Then they broke camp in Jupiter, Fla., on Wednesday, April 1. That day they even knocked around the Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, winning 8-0 at Roger Dean Stadium. The next day, the club was off, and on Friday they traveled to Greensboro, N.C., to face their Class A affiliate.
The next day, they played at Double-A Jacksonville, facing another affiliate. In both exhibitions, the regulars exited after about two at-bats. The team had a workout in Miami on Sunday, and opened against Atlanta on April 6. There was a sense that those four days of not playing much threw off the hitters’ timing in the Atlanta series.
A week later, at Atlanta, the bats started waking up, and the club won two of three. With momentum, they headed into New York, where everything collapsed. After losing their second straight at Citi Field on Friday, Giancarlo Stanton spoke out, questioning the fire in the club. From what I heard from a number of team executives, they applauded Stanton for speaking up.
It was made clear, it’s Giancarlo’s team. If he has something to say, he can say it. There was a players-only meeting, and the group spoke among themselves. From what I’ve sensed, I am not convinced all was resolved in that meeting.
But when it came time to play on Saturday and Sunday, the pitching faltered, the Mets took big leads. That mostly was on the pitching, not for lack of effort or fire. Both days, the Marlins came back and lost by a run. The competed and showed life.
This is where it all stands. This club desperately needs Alvarez back, which could be in early to mid May. They need Jose Fernandez in a big way, too. But that won’t be until June or July. Pitching prospect Justin Nicolino, in Triple-A, isn’t quite ready. Maybe he will be after a few more starts.
Or they may end up making a trade or two to add a starter.
The team also needs its big three outfielders to be themselves. Thus far the touted trio is scuffling — Stanton (.239 BA, 2 HRs, 11 RBIs), Christian Yelich (.200 BA, 13 ks in 45 ABs) and Marcell Ozuna (.263 BA, 3 RBIs, 15 Ks in 38 ABs).
This still is a highly talented team capable of turning things around just as quickly as they’ve tumbled.
They just need some patience, and some quality starts.
— Joe Frisaro