Cleat Geeks

The Miami Marlins and Don Mattingly: Could This Work Out?

For a couple of months, the Miami Marlins have made it well known that they are looking to hire someone with previous managerial experience to be their new skipper. The Marlins dismissed Mike Redmond from his position as manager on May 18th after a disappointing 16-22 start. He was replaced, rather controversially, by GM Dan Jennings. This move was made due to the Marlins’ belief that they should be competing for a playoff spot in September and were not performing to their potential.Mattingly1

Miami believes that one of the important factors for a successful 2016 campaign is a manager with experience who can bring the best out of their players. For weeks, there have been numerous reports that owner Jeffrey Loria has his eye on Don Mattingly as the “preferred choice”. The Marlins even prolonged their search recently, waiting to see what happens with Mattingly and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both sides, Mattingly and the Dodgers, agreed to part ways this past week. An updated report saying that the Marlins have serious interest in Don Mattingly was followed by another one saying that Mattingly’s interest is mutual. No talks have started yet, but that is expected to change this week.

Don Mattingly, aka Donnie Baseball, was a star first baseman for the New York Yankees throughout the 80’s and early 90s. He became the Dodgers’ skipper in 2011 and led them to three consecutive National West titles from 2013-2015. Although the Dodgers experienced success with Don Mattingly, there has been a lot of speculation about him being on the hot seat for about two years already. At $300 million, Los Angeles has the largest payroll in the majors and has been expected by many (most importantly, their team brass) to win the World Series. They were eliminated in the National League Championship Series by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013. After that, the Cardinals, their sudden nemesis, knocked them out from the National League Division Series in 2014. The Dodgers suffered another NLDS elimination this year, this time at the hands of the New York Mets. While a team with such high expectations experiencing early playoff exits naturally generates hot seat talk, it didn’t help that the Dodgers hired new team president Andrew Friedman and GM Farhan Zaidi before the 2015 season. Not only is it common for a new team president and GM to want to hire their own manager, but also these are two front office members who put a large emphasis on using advanced metrics and analytics to build a team and lineup, which doesn’t match Don Mattingly’s more conventional style.  Therefore, it was not much of a surprise that the Dodgers let Mattingly go.MattinglyArguingWith Ump

The Miami Marlins really want Don Mattingly but would this hiring work out? It definitely should. Understandingly, many believe that Mattingly wouldn’t want to manage for the Marlins due to their infamous history of constantly hiring and firing managers. However, there are only 30 MLB managerial jobs in the world and it’s difficult for a candidate to say no to a team that expresses a lot of interest in him (plus, he has already confirmed he wants to continue managing in the near future). The Marlins have already technically catered to Don Mattingly as they will let him choose his own coaching staff. On October 5th, all of the Marlins’ coaches, except for infield guru Perry Hill, were freed to explore other opportunities. It’s important to note that the Marlins were a team that was expected to contend this year. Despite finishing their 2015 season with a 71-91 record, the Marlins’ front office believes that they are a couple of pieces away from making the playoffs in 2016. They show faith in their core which includes big time slugger Giancarlo Stanton (he was placed on the DL on June 27th and missed the rest of the season), outfielder Christian Yelich, second baseman Dee Gordon and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. They also have ace Jose Fernandez who is one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball when healthy.

MattinglyFeatureEven though Don Mattingly just finished managing a championship caliber ball club, his transition to the Marlins shouldn’t be much of a big deal since this is not a team that is currently in a rebuild phase. There are two more parts of this change of scenery that may help things work out for Mattingly and the Marlins. One of them is less media scrutiny compared to Los Angeles. The other is the Marlins’ conventional ways of running a team which is more of Mattingly’s fit compared to the Dodgers’ new age way of thinking where the front office’s involvement reaches the point of even creating lineups for the manager (the Dodgers have reportedly done this).

So to wrap it up, why would Don Mattingly becoming the Marlins manager work out? 1. He is actually wanted here 2. He will be given the chance to hire his own coaching staff 3. The Marlins have a very talented team 4. There will be less pressure on him by fans and the media 5. The Marlins’ style of running the team matches better with him. From what is known, he has had one official interview with the club over the weekend. The Marlins will pursue Don Mattingly to manage their team just as it was speculated for weeks, and they will offer him a very positive scenario. The ball is in Mattingly’s court.

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