MIAMI — With the bases loaded and two-outs in the ninth inning, Dylan Floro caught Vaughn Grissom looking at a called third strike in a 13-pitch showdown, and the Miami Marlins won their season finale, 12-9, over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday at loanDepot park.
The Marlins took two-of-three against the defending World Series champions and the current National League East winners.
But in the final standings, there was a 32-game gap, as the Braves ended up 101-61, while the Marlins finished 69-93.
The closing of the regular season starts the beginning of an anticipated busy offseason as the Marlins must find a new manager, and explore ways to improve one of MLB’s least productive offenses.
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As the Marlins prepare to move forward, The Palm Beach Post offers these five takeaways:
Moving on from Don Mattingly as manager
The “Donnie Baseball Era” is officially over.
For seven seasons, Don Mattingly provided the Marlins with something the franchise has traditionally lacked – managerial stability.
There were more lows than highs, but Mattingly carried himself with class and composure through two ownerships, and a lengthy rebuild.
The high point came in 2020 when Mattingly was the National League Manager of the Year after directing the team to the playoffs in the 60-game pandemic-shortened season. In the postseason, Miami eliminated the Chicago Cubs before being swept by Atlanta.
Mattingly exits as the Marlins’ winningest manager, compiling a 443-587 overall record.
At age 61, Mattingly said he’s not sure what’s next. It’s hard to imagine he will be out of the game too long.
“I feel good,” Mattingly said. “I don’t want to go and sit on the couch. It doesn’t mean I’m doing anything in uniform. It doesn’t mean I’m not. I just don’t know. I think the biggest thing is just go home and just listen to your mind and enjoy that time, and see what happens. See what’s there.”
If he’s not managing elsewhere, or moving into an advisory role, Mattingly may wind up teaching hitting.
“I actually like it more than anything,” he said of working with hitters. “I feel like I can see it good. As a manager, you really can’t do it. You have to really bite your tongue because you’re not in the cage.”
Potential manager candidates could include Joe Espada, Fredi Gonzalez
The Marlins will be in no rush to hire Mattingly’s replacement. One reason is some potential candidates are with clubs in the playoffs.
Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada is one possibility, and another name that could make sense is Baltimore Orioles manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, of course, is a former Marlins manager, and coach. Espada also previously coached with Miami.
Tampa Bay bench coach Matt Quatraro has been mentioned as well by the Miami Herald.
While the Marlins may seek to ask permission, Espada and Quatraro are expected to draw attention from other clubs as well.
Whoever gets the job will be tasked with helping get the most out of the players, the offense in particular, as well as work closely with the analytics department. The Marlins will explore trades and free agency, but they’ll be counting on improvement with many already in the organization.
Will Mel Stottlemyre stay or go?
Pitching is the strength of the organization, and Mel Stottlemyre deserves plenty of credit for the success. Ace Sspanndy Alcspanntspanrspan is expected to be the franchise’s first Cy Young Award winner, and Pablo Lopez, Jesus Luzardo, Edward Cabrera, Trevor Rogers and Braxton Garrett all have pitched at a high level.
Retaining Stottlemyre is a priority. But his stock is high, and several teams, perhaps the Kansas City Royals, may be vying for his services.
Shortstop in the plans for Jazz Chisholm Jr. ?
The injury to All-Star second baseman Jspanzz Chisholm Jr., was a major blow to the team. Chisholm last played on June 28, and he finished the year seeing action in just 60 games, batting .254 with 14 home runs and 12 stolen bases.
Keeping Chisholm on the field next year will be a priority of the training staff. But could Chisholm find himself playing another position?
Chisholm came up as a shortstop prospect, and a return to his natural position is a possibility. Miguel Rojas, who has played at a Gold Glove level at short, is slowing down, and the grind of the position is taking its toll.
Chisholm could get looks at short, as well as Rojas and Joey Wendle.
Not a given Brian Anderson returns
Home-grown third baseman/outfielder Brian Anderson, a third-round pick in 2014, could be on the move in the offseason. Entering his final season of arbitration, Anderson’s salary projections make it questionable to be back. The 29-year-old made $4.475 million this year, and injuries limited him to 98 games.
Anderson hit .222 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs, and he never was able to get on track.
Rojas, Jordan Groshans, Charles Leblanc and Wendle are candidates to play third.
The Marlins aren’t expected to be in the market for high-priced free agents, and they are expected to be hesitant trading their pitchers. Still, they will be surveying the market.
As noted above, there is an expectation that those on the big league roster will improve.