I tend to agree with most MLB writers that the Miami Marlins should continue to build its organization with a young nucleus of talent that will be well represented on opening day. Like any other team, a solid core of home-grown talent is essential for the future success and potential run toward the playoffs.
That theory works in most cases, however the Marlins are in a bit of a situation it has to address if it is to take the next step, that being a spot in the 2017 playoffs. The Washington Nationals and the New York Mets were clearly two better teams than the one in south Florida. Injuries had a lot to do with a 79-82 campaign. But 2017 is a new year and a new opportunity. The slate is wiped clean and the process of building a postseason ball club has already begun.
“But whether the Marlins become a serious contender likely will come down to how they recover from the tragedy that claimed the life of Jose Fernandez in a boating accident on Sept. 25,” write Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.
That’s true – that the club must put the past behind them (not trying to sound insensitive) and focus on the road ahead. There still is a solid group of core players who will define this team. Team president David Samson said there is no way the team can replace a talent like Fernandez, rather the club must figure out how to win more games without their fallen superstar.
"With everything, there is growth and there is development," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "There's adjustments, and there's steps to becoming a champion and a championship-caliber player."
Much of the core has been together since 2013, and now that it has a taste of what it takes to be a postseason club, the organization is hopeful it can put an end to its postseason drought in '17.
If Miami is going to move ahead, it must make decisions on the current roster. It may have to break their promise to keep the core together. It may have to shuffle the deck a bit and in some cases, show the stiffest of poker faces. Above everything else, baseball is a business and winning is the only thing that quiet critics. The last time the Marlins had a winning record was 2009 when they finished second in the National League East. There has to be a formula of getting more with less that works for manager Don Mattingly and his staff. There must be a collective push to get past the .500 barrier. This seemed to be the season the team put that altogether, but fell short.
"Our guys have taken those steps," Hill said. "I firmly believe they're in position to do that. That's why I'm confident that these guys are ready to do that. That's why we feel confident with where we're at with those guys."