Baseball’s Winter Meetings have come and they have gone, with MLB teams opening up their checkbooks to foster future on-field success.
Then, there’s the Miami Marlins: losers of 93 games, with attendance figures perennially low enough to make one question the sport’s long-term viability down by the seaside, and a neophyte manager, Skip Schumaker, in place for 2023.
“I think we gathered a lot of information,” said general manager Kim Ng. And yet, with the exception of dumpster-diving in the Rule 5 Draft, the Marlins did…absolutely nothing.
In an offseason that has already seen clubs commit more than $2 billion in guaranteed money to major league free agents, the Marlins must’ve not gotten the memo about the league’s financial prosperity. Nearing mid-December, they’ve accounted for $0 of that total. Ng’s only guarantee? “The team will look different on Opening Day.”
Reported interest in the likes of José Abreu, Josh Bell, and Cody Bellinger—all names who fit Miami’s need for bats—was merely that: interest. Like the coming-of-age introvert who so desperately yearns for the girl he passes by in his school’s hallways, the Marlins failure to engage in serious talks with any one of those players is a bargaining technique—if we may be so generous to even throw that term around in this instance—that will keep them perpetually looking on the outside of acquiring premium talent.
Who’s to blame? Do we point fingers at Ng, whose most notable contribution to the 2022-23 offseason has been a trade with the Rays for reliever JT Chargois and infield prospect Xavier Edwards? Or is the criticism better directed at owner Bruce Sherman for his frugality that has fans unironically wishing for a return to the days of Jeffrey Loria, as if Loria wasn’t severely deficient in his own ways?
The flaws of the Marlins roster are not difficult to identify. Last season, their batters collectively had a .597 OPS against left-handed pitching, the first time in 50 years that a team performed so poorly against the minority arm. Even against righties, Miami lacked both patience and power. It’s also an aging unit of position players—Jon Berti, Garrett Cooper, Avisaíl García, Miguel Rojas, Jacob Stallings and Joey Wendle will all by 32 years or older by the middle of next summer. The company line from Ng and Schumaker is that better health will manifest in improved production.
Place yourself in the shoes of the Marlins pitching staff that was so frequently charged with losses in 2022 due to poor run support. More specifically, imagine you’re Sandy Alcantara, winner of the first Cy Young award in your franchise’s 30-year history. You put your faith in the Fish via a long-term contract extension, yet enter the coming year with an offense that’s currently projected to fill up the line score each night with more zeroes than Aaron’s Judge’s new $360,000,000 Yankees deal.
Longtime NCAA basketball coach Don Meyer once referred to complacency as the “forerunner of mediocrity.” With the way that Miami’s navigating this offseason so far, even mediocrity may be an unreasonable expectation for 2023.