We got cooler weather in South Florida last week, which means we're getting closer to Hot Stove season!
Here are five questions facing the Marlins this offseason:
1. How's the managerial search going?
Three finalists have emerged, a source told MLB.com: Houston bench coach Joe Espada, Tampa Bay bench coach Matt Quatraro and St. Louis bench coach Skip Schumaker. None has Major League managerial experience. The 47-year-old Espada, a former Marlins coach from 2006-13, had a stint with the Yankees (2014-17) before joining the Astros. After spending time on Terry Francona's Cleveland staff, 48-year-old Quatraro in October ‘17 rejoined the Rays' organization, one the Marlins would like to emulate. Following an 11-year playing career, Schumaker spent time in San Diego's front office as the assistant to baseball operations and player development. The 42-year-old served as the Padres' associate manager before joining the Cardinals in '22. Depending on which direction Miami goes, expect the new skipper to be announced on a World Series off-day -- or soon after the Fall Classic ends. Espada's Astros are still in the postseason.
2. What's the vision moving forward?
When Derek Jeter departed, principal owner Bruce Sherman said general manager Kim Ng would run baseball operations. Now is her chance to leave her mark on the organization. That begins with hiring a manager and finding replacements for a restructured front office. According to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi, Miami has interviewed Houston executive Oz Ocampo for its assistant GM position. Since the Marlins won't be able to spend like the big-market clubs, their blueprint for success will model after sustainable winners Tampa Bay and Cleveland. Like those clubs, the Astros have been at the forefront of analytics.
3. How might Miami acquire more offense?
Two days after the season ended, Ng said it was "hard to say at this point" whether there would be major or minor additions to the lineup. Last offseason, Miami signed Jorge Soler and Avisaíl García, but they both underperformed and dealt with injuries. Ng did say the Marlins would explore all avenues -- from free agency to trades to waiver claims.
"We are going to do what we can to improve this club," Ng said. "I don't think that we can just sit here on our hands and think that everything's going to be better. We are going to explore a lot of different items during the course of the offseason to improve this club."
4. How can the club combat all of the injuries?
The Marlins had the eighth-most days lost to the injured list in 2022, and it certainly affected their depth and record. Does there need to be player and/or medical personnel change? What about adjustments to playing time?
"In hindsight, I think the lockout was not helpful in terms of us being able to monitor players and have an understanding of what their offseason regimen [was], how those were shaping up," Ng said. "I think this year in our player meetings, we focused quite a bit on that with each individual player and what our expectation was during the offseason. Now that we don't have a labor stoppage in effect, we'll be able to check in on these players, and so that is a big part of our offseason, what we feel we need to do. We've talked to a number of the players about getting stronger and building their foundation so that when they come into Spring Training, they're a little bit better ready to compete."
5. What happens with the 40-man roster?
The Marlins face quite the conundrum after the World Series, when players on the 60-day IL must be added back onto the 40-man roster. Of the eight for Miami, five underwent Tommy John surgery in 2022: Max Meyer, Anthony Bender, Cody Poteet, Paul Campbell and Sean Guenther. Since TJ rehab takes over a year, the front office has to decide which of those arms warrants saving a roster spot even though he won't be available to pitch in '23. The side effect of that is a loss of pitching depth.
Who led Marlins pitchers in appearances in 1997?
A.) Robb Nen
B.) Jay Powell
C.) Dennis Cook
D.) Felix Heredia
ONE PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
This season marks the 25th anniversary of the 1997 World Series championship ballclub. In this latest installment, we catch up with manager Jim Leyland. This is Part 3 of 3.
MLB.com: What did you tell the team after the World Series?
Leyland: I was just celebrating like everybody else. I remember what I told them before: "Nobody's going to remember who lost this thing. They're only going to remember who won it. Who won Game 7 of the World Series last year?" And somebody said, "Oh, the Yankees." I said, "Well, that just goes to show you: There wasn't even a Game 7 last year, they won in six games."
I spoke to them pretty much before each game and just tried to have a little message for them. I can remember talking to them about Muhammad Ali, how he wasn't just satisfied getting to the championship fight. He trained to win that fight. He wanted to be the guy that won it, because a lot of times, sometimes you get the World Series, they think, "Oh, we got here," and they take a deep breath. But you forget that you've really got to get after to win it. I wanted to remind them of how much he trained and his thought process and how prepared he was going into the championship fight.
MLB.com: What was the reasoning behind having those talks?
Leyland: I just tried to come up each day with a different subject to try to relax them, but you have to try to keep them focused. In my opinion, probably the two most important things in baseball for players, and everybody else really, is concentration and relaxation. If you can concentrate and relax at the same time, that's the best combination you can have. You could concentrate sometimes, but you can't relax, you get tensed up, you can't concentrate. So if you've got the combination of concentration and relaxation, I think that's the best way.
MLB.com: What's your lasting memory from that night?
Leyland: I think the biggest thing is -- sounds kind of corny because it didn't really have anything to do with the game -- but after everybody was celebrating on the field, Ed Donahue the home-plate umpire, called me over and he said, "Jim, this is lying here and got kind of caught up in all the celebration." He gave me Edgar Renteria's bat, which I obviously gave to Edgar. I'm sure that bat's probably in the Hall of Fame. But he wanted me to have that bat because it was just getting probably trampled on and stuff. I remember taking it and putting it in the clubhouse and then later giving to Edgar.
THIS WEEK IN 1997
Oct. 26: Heads-up play
The Marlins would've had a much tougher time rallying in Game 7 had Renteria, who would later become the walk-off hero, not made a gutsy decision in the ninth. With runners on the corners and one out, Renteria threw home rather than attempt an inning-ending double play. Sandy Alomar Jr. was out by a mile, and Brian Giles followed with a flyout to end the frame. It kept it a one-run deficit.
B.) Jay Powell
The club's setup man finished with 74 appearances and a 3.28 ERA.
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