Let’s get one thing straight. The home run sculpture is gone—and that’s a shame. The monstrosity will eventually be displayed for fan amusement outside the ballpark by 2020. Filling the sculpture void is a multi-tiered deck, complete with a cocktail bar; palm trees and ivy will adorn the left field bleachers; and the once lime-colored outfield walls have been painted blue.
But that’s not all. The Marlins have an updated logo and new threads to match. The visual re-branding is focused on embracing Miami’s “vibe.” I’m probably in the minority, but I was fond of the rainbow-color theme that’s being replaced; a look, I felt, stood out and was unmistakably Miami.
Although I do appreciate the return of the marlin logo to the cap, the new color set is too heavy on black and too light on ‘90s teal. If Miami’s “vibe” is the glow of a neon bar sign, the Marlins nailed it. Maybe the new fashion grows on me, maybe not. That’s beside the point. What’s more important is that the Marlins stick with the brand for more than a half-decade instead of consistently reinforcing the perception that the entire organization is perpetually in a destabilized state of re-branding and rebuilding.
Don Mattingly is in his fourth season as manager, and the last year of his contract. Under his guidance, the Marlins are (219-265) and have seen their win total drop in three consecutive seasons: 79, 77, 63. Ownership hasn’t done him any favors. The trade departures of Giancarlo Stanton in December of 2017, and Christian Yelich a month later, left Mattingly with 24 rookie-eligible players in 2018. In the offseason, the Fish lost two reliable bullpen arms (Kyle Barraclough and Brad Ziegler) and failed to re-sign star catcher J.T Realmuto. It’s clear CEO Derek Jeter is committed to a complete rebuild with younger, inexperienced players who are years away from contending, regardless of whether it’s Mattingly at the helm or someone new.
The club did, however, add a couple of aging vets on short-term deals: Curtis Granderson, 38, Sergio Romo, 36, and Neil Walker, 33.
Then there’s Starlin Castro, 29, — part of the return package from the Yankees for Stanton — who’s in his second year in Miami. Castro suited up in 154 games at second (four games as a DH) and slashed .278/.329/.400 with 12 HR, 54 RBI, 48 BB, 124 K. Castro, in the final year of his contract, is likely on the move again via trade come July.
CF Lewis Brinson, 25 — part of the return package from Milwaukee for Yelich — has struggled mightily at the plate. In 382 at-bats last year, he hit .199 avg. with 120 Ks. — an improvement from his .106 avg. in 21 games during his lone season with the Brewers. He’s not one for drawing walks, either: 17 last year and 1 in 57 at-bats this season. All Yelich has done is win the NL MVP Award.
Ichiro’s swan song with the Mariners ended in March with the announcement of his retirement following the conclusion of MLB’s opening series in Japan. During his three-year tenure in Miami (age 41-43 seasons), Ichiro played in 432 games and slashed .256/.315/.325; and, of course, will be forever linked to the Marlins organization for recording his 3,000th career hit (MLB) with the club at Coors Field on August 8, 2016.
The Marlins are (4-12) heading into Monday’s game against the Cubs.