Miami Marlins: Don Mattingly sounds like he knows time is up

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 27: Manager, Don Mattingly of the Miami Marlins returns to the dugout after a pitching change during the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on May 27, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - MAY 27: Manager, Don Mattingly of the Miami Marlins returns to the dugout after a pitching change during the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on May 27, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly was pretty blunt following Thursday’s loss … and sounded like a man who knows that his time is up.

Unfortunately for the Miami Marlins, the second half of the 2022 season started just like the first half of it ended — with a stomach punch of a loss and another shovel full of dirt tossed on hopes for 2022 success.

For 1.1 innings, it looked like the team might come out with some energy. Pablo Lopez worked his way pretty smoothly through an unimpressive Texas Rangers lineup. Then Joey Wendle, batting leadoff and playing second base with Jon Berti and Jazz Chisholm still on the injured list, came out firing. He smoked a single, stole second, and aggressively advanced to third on a Garrett Cooper shallow fly ball.

Then … the rest of the game happened, a game that ended with the score of Rangers 8, Marlins 0. That’s now three straight shutouts, and 34 consecutive innings without scoring a single run. Yep, for nearly four games in a row, the Miami Marlins have knocked in as many runs as you and I would have.

Unsurprisingly, manger Don Mattingly didn’t have many positive notes to share about his lineup during his postgame presser. But the bluntness with which he referred to the team’s deficiencies right now … that was new. This was different. And it sounded an awful lot to my ears like a man that knows he could be about to be shown the door.

Some Mattingly excerpts of thoughts on his current roster, and what needs to happen:

If the big boys don’t go, we’re not going anywhere.” “We do have a lot of the same guy.” “Not a lot of guys that are gonna [have a] high average, guys that get on base, guys that run … we probably have five guys in our lineup that don’t run.” “We’re kind of a stagnant club.”  

Yikes. And there’s more. To nutshell it, Mattingly took specific care during this presser to say that this is how the roster was built. In other words, the problem is team construction. Team construction, and as noted above, that the team’s top hitters just aren’t producing … at all. Some of whom he mentioned by name. Berti and Jazz got a pass, their absence being offered as yet another reason for the stagnant play of late … but far from the only reason.

There are only two takeaways from this kind of blunt talk from a manager, calling out players and essentially employers to that extent.

Player-wise, there are multiple hitters that are on their last legs. Promotions are likely coming, and should do so as soon as Sunday. Jesus Sanchez might need to bounce multiple balls off the Roberto Clemente Bridge this weekend to hold on to his spot in the lineup, and Jesus Aguilar isn’t looking much better. Mattingly’s comments could just be taken as trying to light a fire under the big boys before the front office decides to throw in the towel. And undeniably, that is part of it.

However, the bigger matter are those seeming aspersions cast at the front office, about how this team is built, and the implication that it’s a build that’s flawed … or at least has limitations. Essentially, that there’s only so much that Don Mattingly can do with what he has to work with. After all, a chef is only as good as his ingredients.

That right there is the kind of thing you say if you know you’re being shown the door.

Maybe it’s this weekend if the Marlins drop this series against the lowly Pirates. Maybe it’s in October after respectfully letting him play out the season. Whichever one it is, it really felt like Mattingly was responding to some kind of unseen pressure when he fired off those comments. It really felt like he might have been preparing for the next job interview, and not just doing what he needed to on a given Thursday afternoon for his current job.

It’s no secret the Marlins organization is unhappy with how this season has gone. It’s also no secret that they’ve really been stubborn with making all the square pegs they signed this offseason fit in the round holes they needed to fill after 2021. One sacrificial firing has already happened in Gary Denbo. More are coming, most of which will be on the field. Yet it seems certain that one more non-player head is getting lopped off before Opening Day 2023.

Next. Marlins Need New CF No Matter What. dark

Yesterday afternoon, Don Mattingly sounded an awful lot like a man that knew the head was going to be his, and wasn’t remotely happy about it.