Miami’s front office is known for making its opinion with regard to starting lineups clear.
When Owner Jeffrey Loria is not pleased, everyone in the clubhouse knows it. Ask Fredi Gonzalez. Ask Mike Redmond.
But, at least to this point, it doesn't seem you can ask Don Mattingly.
When the Marlins hired Mattingly, the conditions might have been different. He likely requested privacy. He likely wasn’t going to take lineup suggestions or in-game feedback from someone not on his staff.
It’s no secret Giancarlo Stanton, the face of the Marlins franchise, has been in a slump. His last home run came at the end of May and he currently isn’t batting over .200. He almost certainly wouldn't accept a minor league assignment, partly because he recently signed an extensive deal and partly because the best way to improve is to continue to receive opportunities to turn things around.
On Monday night, Mattingly made a telling decision, one that if made by a former manager might have resulted in his demise. Mattingly made the decision to bench Stanton.
Don Mattingly, acknowledging frustration Giancarlo Stanton is feeling, keeps him out of #Marlins starting lineup;going with Ichiro tonight.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 14, 2016
Stanton will likely start producing routinely soon. One of the game’s best young power hitters cannot remain in a slump for this long. It’s unlikely and not probable.
Until then, though, Mattingly has to field the best possible team for the Marlins, who are competitive halfway through June for the first time in a few seasons. At this point, that team does not feature Giancarlo Stanton.
It would be a telling move for any manager, who would justify it as giving a player off to take a break and perhaps clear his head. But the key here is Mattingly acknowledging Stanton is frustrated. The first step to solving any problem is identifying it and admitting it’s there.
If Barry Bonds, Frank Menechino and Mattingly can’t help Stanton bounce back, then maybe there is a bigger issue.
Stanton will likely be back in the lineup for game two of the club’s series against the Padres. The Marlins scored 13 times in game one without him.
Mattingly is not taking orders from anyone, which has reportedly been an issue that has plagued the Marlins’ infrastructure in years past. We now know who is rightfully making the majority of the decisions.