Marlins Searching for Identity

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The Miami Marlins have been searching for their identity for years. Aside from the two years in which they won the World Series the franchise has been miserable. Since the franchise entered the league in 1993 the team has only finished third or better in their division five times, with two of those being the championship years. Current owner Jeff Loria has tried several different things to help breathe life into the franchise. Most notably the end of the 2011 and beginning of the 2012 season. The team changed their name from the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins, moved into their new stadium, and started sporting newly designed uniforms. Loria cut loose with the payroll also doubling the team’s salary that year. That move would turn out to be one of the biggest disappointments ever. This off-season though the Marlins made moves that could be help the franchise establish themselves as mainstays in the National League East. Still the looming question is can the Marlins find their identity?

Marlins Searching for Identity

After his departure from the Dodgers, Don Mattingly was quickly picked up by the Marlins to be their skipper. The move was a move in the right direction, as Mattingly will bring consistency, and his playoff experience with him. Yes, his playoff record is not good, and he had a very good team in Los Angeles. However, when you think about it, Joe Torre couldn’t win with that team and he had a proven playoff record. Mattingly brings his a scrappy mentality and hustle that he can instill in Marlins roster. Loria will have to give Mattingly time to do his thing though, and not do a one and done season with Mattinly at the helm. Mattingly was able to get his first win on Thursday night over the Nationals after getting swept by the Tigers in Miami.

Another great move that the Marlins made was hiring Barry Bonds. This will get a lot of groans from those who still think Bonds is a cheater. Bonds, however, will make a great hitting coach. In his career Barry Bonds was a hitting, and on-base machine. The Marlins ranked 23rd last year with at .310 on base percentage, but were one of the better teams in terms of batting average. If the team can continue to keep their batting average up, and Bonds can help them in the way of being more patient to get on base the Marlins line-up will be one of the toughest in the league to face.

Finally, the Marlins have slowly built a roster with key components that will only get better everyday. They have made key additions over the last couple of seasons to compliment the slew of home grown talent that currently fills their roster. The casual fans know the two most popular of that group in Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, but there are several others that are going to soon become more household names for the Marlins. Closing pitcher A.J. Ramos is one of those names. After late game collapses last year by the closer, Steve Cishek, he got the opportunity to come in and claim the closer role. He not only excelled, but was able to gather 32 saves along the way. Ramos got his  first save of the 2016 season against the Washington Nationals on Thursday night. Ramos has the luxury of having David Phelps in the bullpen a former closer who can help Ramos should he struggle. Two more names people will be more familiar with over time are Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. While Ozuna went through a sophomore slump in 2015, he should have no problem bouncing back in 2016. Yelich will build on last year in which he led the everyday players in on base percentage, and was only second to Dee Gordon in batting average among everyday players.

If Loria can be patient, and not have his typical fire-sale when the going gets rough, the Marlins can become contenders. It may not happen this year, but with the coaching staff and player personnel that is in place they have nowhere to go, but up. All in all, they still need probably one solid pitcher in the rotation, but the Marlins are the closest they have been in franchise history to establishing their identity.

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