After using two completely different approaches to try and put winning teams on the field, the Miami Marlins will have some choices to make. Choices that will affect the future of the franchise.
Prior to last season, the Marlins' approach to try and win championships was based on drafting talented young players and developing them. That strategy worked twice, however after the front office dismantled the core of the 2003 World Series team in 2006, wins were not easy to come by.
This season, heading into a new stadium, with a new manager, and a new fan base, the team didn't meet expectations, mainly because of key injuries to players such as Giancarlo Stanton and Emilio Bonifacio.
The strategy used to assemble this year's team, though, was significantly different than that used to put together the Florida Marlins teams of the past. This past offseason, the front office, led by owner Jeffery Loria, did something that nobody expected: Went out and spent an enormous amount of money to get players such as Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, and even Heath Bell, in Marlins uniforms.
But that didn't really work that well either.
As the season comes to end, what approach will the Marlins take?
Will they stay conservative, making small deals that they feel would help this team win? Or do they go out, unload some big contracts, and start again, this time only signing free agents and trading for players that they truly feel will make their club significantly better?
All of that remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: With their second consecutive 90 loss season, the Marlins have yet to prove that they can compete with baseball's best teams consistently, throughout the entire season.
-The Marlins recently signed former Cub Adam Greenberg to a one-day contract. Greenberg was hit by a pitch behind the ear in 2005 by Marlins pitcher Valerio De Los Santos, and didn't play a game of baseball for nearly three years after the incident after developing vertigo and post-concussion symptoms. Greenberg will get one at bat on Tuesday, when the Marlins play the Mets at Marlins Park. "It knocked me down and I could have stayed there," Greenberg said. "I had a choice. I could have said, ‘Poor me,' and ‘This is horrible,' but I chose to get up and get back in the box. That's kind of the message to everyone. No matter what is going on in their own personal lives or anything, get back up, keep going. Good things do happen. Sometimes it takes seven years, but you know what, anything is possible and this just shows what's possible."
-Ricky Nolasco struggled in his last start of the season on Saturday night, as the Marlins fell to the Phillies 9-5. "Just wasn't able to hold them off," Nolasco said. "They gave me a ton at-bats where they grinded...They ended up winning key battles. After the second inning I already felt like I threw six."
-Before Saturday's game, the Marlins honored their minor league player of the year, Christian Yelich, and their minor league pitcher of the year, Jose Fernandez. Yelich and Fernandez are both 20, and are currently recognized as the Marlins' top two prospects.
-For the 12th consecutive season, pitcher Mark Buehrle has pitched 200 or more innings. Buehrle reached the goal he had made for himself prior to the start of the season after his Friday night outing against the Phillies. This is also the 12th consecutive season Buehrle has won ten or more games. "I told [Ozzie] if he came out and got me I was going to set the ball down on the mound and walk off, or I was going to throw it out to the outfield and make him chase it," Buehrle said.
-Manager Ozzie Guillen has been nothing but honest when asked about whether he will return to Miami or not next season. Several sources have claimed that Guillen is not concerned about his future with the team, or the team's future. One source claimed that Guillen has "peace of mind" about his current situation.
-On Saturday,Giancarlo Stanton, Donovan Solano, Jose Reyes and Justin Ruggiano all received awards from the Miami chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America to commemorate their respective seasons. Ruggiano is set to win the team's Jeff Conine "Mr.Marlin" award, and Solano is expected to receive the home team Rookie Of The Year award.
-For the second time in franchise history, four Marlins struck out in one inning. On Wednesday night, Braves closer Craig Kimbrel struck out four Marlins, as Donovan Solano reached on a wild pitch on his swinging strikeout. Reds pitcher Frank Rodriguez did it in 2001.
Around The League
-Manny Machado's solo home run helped the Orioles beat the Red Sox 4-3 on Saturday night. "It's like a quiet confidence, calmness," first baseman Mark Reynolds said of this Orioles group, a sum-of-their-parts bunch that has stuck together and proved skeptics wrong all season. "We're playing with house money. We're not supposed to be here. We're just a bunch of kids having fun."
-The Washington Nationals defeated the Cardinals 6-4 on Saturday night, but didn't clinch the division because of Atlanta's victory over the Mets.
-Ryan Howard will miss the remainder of the season after breaking a toe on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park. "He's going to have to put some work in," Charlie Manuel said of Howard. "I'm talking about every day. I'm talking about this winter. He wants to be where he used to be."
At Fish Stripes
-Prospect Christian Yelich completed his season by finishing strong. Yelich may be in a Marlins uniform as soon as 2013.
-Josh Johnson has been the Marlins' most consistent pitcher the past few years, however they may have to make a decision on whether they want to extend him sooner rather than later.
-Heath Bell and Ozzie Guillen have both spoken their minds in recent days. Was it Heath Bell that didn't handle the situation correctly?