2015 Miami Marlins
2015 Miami Marlins / Franchise: Miami Marlins / BR Team Page
The 2015 Miami Marlins surprised observers by signing star OF Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year, $325 million contract during the off-season. It was the largest contract in US professional sports history, and came from a team more famous for its fire sales than for spending to win. The signing was accompanied by a number of other moves meant to show that Miami was serious about competing for the NL East title. Other new arrivals includes Ps Mat Latos and Dan Haren, IFs Martin Prado and Dee Gordon, and OFs Michael Morse and Ichiro Suzuki. All of these acquisitions were made without giving up any of the team's key young players, such as OFs Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Jake Marisnick, Ps Henderson Alvarez, Jose Fernandez or Steve Cishek, or SS Adeiny Hechevarria. The question was whether the veterans and the talented youngsters would jell together, because in 2012, the Marlins had attempted something similar, only to see their pricey free agent acquisitions largely go bust.
Things did not quite work out as expected, as the Marlins sputtered early on, and then began losing ground on the division leaders in early May. On Opening Day on April 6th, in what was perhaps a presage of upcoming problems, rain began falling in the middle of the 2nd inning, causing a rain delay, which would not have been unusual except that Marlins Park had a roof, which management had neglected to close as it was relying on on-line weather apps to predict rain showers, and not on a professional meteorologist; worse, while there was a tarp to cover the infield, it was stored out of reach of the grounds crew, who could not protect the field while the roof slowly closed. The ended up losing that game, 2-1, to the Atlanta Braves, with Gordon slipping on a still-wet turf while trying to beat out a bunt in the 8th inning in a key play. They lost six of theor first seven games to get off on a wrong foot.
On May 17th, they were shut out by the Atlanta Braves, 6-0, completing a three-game sweep at home and putting them only a half game ahead of the last-place Philadelphia Phillies at 16-22. In that game, they came within one out of being no-hit by Shelby Miller, with rookie Justin Bour hitting a single with two outs in the 9th to avoid the humiliation. After the game, manager Mike Redmond and bench coach Rob Leary were both fired. It was clear that the firing had come at the instigation of impatient owner Jeffrey Loria, who had stepped over the head of General Manager Dan Jennings, as the two still had their immediate boss's confidence. In a typically puzzling move, the Marlins then appointed Jennings as Redmond's successor; he had no major playing experience and had neither coached or managed at any professional level, his experience in baseball having come largely in scouting and front office roles. The rumor was that the Marlins were already committed to paying a lot of money to two fired managers (Redmond and his predecessor, Ozzie Guillen) and did not want to taker on another salary, meaning that the job had to be filled from within the organization. They did hire the experienced Mike Goff to be Jennings' right-hand man as bench coach. Jennings was the team's 6th manager since the start of the 2010 season, compounding the instability that had characterized the team under owner Loria.
In the Marlins' first game under Jennings' watch, they lost, 3-2 to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 13 innings. The game was typical in that the hitters struggled badly - they finished the game on an 0 for 22 streak, following being almost no-hit the previous day, and demoted closer Cishek once again failed, as he gave-up the game-winning hit to David Peralta. The loss moved them into last place in the division. In fact, they lost their first five games under their new skipper until defeating the Baltimore Orioles, 1-0, in 13 innings on May 23rd. On May 26th, Jennings made a minor adjustment to his coaching staff, switching third base coach Brett Butler with assistant hitting coach Lenny Harris, explaining that he wanted Butler to work in the dugout alongside him.
In one of the rare highlights of the first three months, the Marlins set a team record on June 16th by scoring 8 runs in the 1st inning in a game against the New York Yankees. Facing their former teammate Nate Eovaldi, who had been traded to the Yankees in the off-season, he did not make it out of the inning as the Marlins compiled 7 consecutive hits after Dee Gordon led of with a ground out. Marcell Ozuna had a bases-loaded single, Adeiny Hechevarria followed with a triple and Derek Dietrich had two hits, including another triple that ended Eovaldi's night. The Fish went on to win the game, 12-2.
Given their poor fist half, the Marlins were unsurprisingly sellers when the trading deadline arrived. They shipped former closer Cishek, who had pitched well following a demotion to the minor leagues to work out his issues, to the St. Louis Cardinals, and two of their off-season acquisitions, P Latos and OF/1B Morse, both of whom had been big disappointments, to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a move that brought in three Class A pitchers but more importantly, from the Marlins point of view, got them out of some salary commitments.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton
- NL Gold Glove: Dee Gordon (2B)
- NL Silver Slugger Award: Dee Gordon (2B)
- 2015 Topps All-Star Rookie Team: Justin Bour (1B) and J.T. Realmuto (C)
- Associated Press: "With baseball's 2nd-worst record, a lost season for Marlins", USA Today, July 31, 2015. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Marlins will be something special", USA Today Sports, March 10, 2015. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Marlins seek 'new voice' after firing Redmond", USA Today Sports, May 17, 2015. 
- Chad Osborne: "'I Thought We Had a Roof': Marlins All Wet After Opening Day Rain Delay Gaffe", Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 47, Nr. 1 (spring 2018), pp. 81-84.