Big Miami Marlins move moving from overreaction to overdue

The Miami Marlins have been really careful not to repeat past mistakes. But what once would have been called an overreaction is becoming overdue.

Since ownership of the team changed hands in 2018, the Miami Marlins have been on a mission to prove that things would be different under the new regime.

Admittedly, that has been a mixed bag. Payroll remains much lower than fans would prefer. A bunch of fan favorites were traded for prospects a few years back. There has been one winning season since the changeover, and that was a 60-game aberration. When it comes to bottom-line results, the difference has been negligible.

On the other hand, the farm system has been impressively rebuilt. In terms of pitching depth, the Miami Marlins are the envy of the sport. There has been the sense, at least until recently, of there being some kind of grand “plan” in place to build a winner. That feeling had been largely absent the past decade, as had any progress on critical revenue streams like broadcasting and stadium naming rights. That changed last season and, if nothing else, this ownership group deserves a lot of credit for that. The franchise is in a much better position to succeed than it was when the sale was first completed.

Really, all of those positives for the Miami Marlins can be summed up in one word: stability.

Gone are the days of the impulsive manager dismissal, and of the overaggressive trading of a top prospect for a middling veteran. No more swapping out of Mike Redmond for Dan Jennings. No trading Luis Castillo for Dan Straily. No Chris Paddack for Fernando Rodney. By 2017, Miami had become a laughing stock for these types of measures. Jeffrey Loria’s Marlins had 11 different managers from the time he first bought the team in 2002 to the time he finally sold it in 2017.

This Bruce Sherman ownership group was committed, wisely, to changing the perception of perpetual chaos. So much so that they kept both the manager and GM that they inherited for three seasons before making a change. That’s unheard of, really. And Don Mattingly is still here, with only Michael Hill being shown the door. Truthfully, the timing of Hill’s departure is one of only two minor bumps in team operation since 2017, and was smoothed over by a well-deserved and glass-ceiling shattering hire of Kim Ng. Derek Jeter’s abrupt departure is obviously the other bump, but even that came in Year 5 of his tenure. Overall though? It’s been steady as she goes for the Miami Marlins.

However, have things been too steady? Too rigid? Too mechanical?

You can make a pretty compelling case for yes at this point. What was once, and still might be, commendable is quickly becoming a liability for the Miami Marlins organization. There is a lot of talent on this 2022 Miami Marlins team, and a lot of talent behind it in the minors. The thing is, while they say you can never have too much pitching, the Marlins are pretty darn close to achieving that feat when healthy. Yet the offense is still a work in progress, and the backend of the bullpen is still a question mark. At least one big addition to the MLB roster is needed to make the Marlins a true contender. Yesterday, I made the case that Mattingly could be fired before the season is over. Doing something about either one of those situations would constitute an earthshaking move given how the organization has operated the past few years.

And this is a team that could do with some earthshaking.

Personally, my preference is the trade route, and seeing the Miami Marlins move multiple prospects for a proven All-Star hitter. The time has come for a big splashy trade. Depending on how the next month shakes out, these things don’t need to be mutually exclusive either. If Miami wins two games or less the rest of this week…they should probably give serious thought to firing Mattingly. But if that move sparks the kind of winning the Philadelphia Phillies have enjoyed since firing manager Joe Girardi, they should (by all means) make a trade in late July. Likewise, if they do make a trade and the team still struggles, I think it’s worth their time to get a read on the next man up in house before casting a wider net in the offseason.

Either way, this is a team that needs to be thinking in win-now terms. They can do with a little front office aggression to see that come to pass. In fact, before too long, fans are going to demand it. It wasn’t the doing it at all that was the problem with Loria’s Marlins. It was the doing it a couple times a season, every season that became problematic.

After a long history of overreacting and misreading the situation, the Miami Marlins could soon find themselves in new territory when it comes to big moves: a place where such a move is overdue.

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