Gone Fishing, Don Mattingly given the keys to continue managing the Marlins

Gone Fishing, Don Mattingly given the keys to continue managing the Marlins

Rome was not built in a day.

The term is an adage attesting to the need for time to create great things.

It may not be the term used by CEO Derek Jeter or manager Don Mattingly of the Miami Marlins; however, the vision seems to be mutual.

The Miami Marlins today announced that the club had signed Don Mattingly to a two-year extension with a third-year mutual option to continue serving as the team’s Manager.

The 58-year-old Mattingly will be back for a fifth season with Miami in 2020. His contract announced Friday is for two years plus a mutual option for 2022.

The Marlins also announced a two-year contract with shortstop Miguel Rojas that includes an option for 2022.

“I played for Billy Martin three different times,” Mattingly said. “I played for Lou Piniella two different times. There was Stump Merrill, Dallas Green, one guy to the next, year after year. As a player, you got the point where if things were going bad you’re thinking, ‘This guy is probably not going to be back.”

Mattingly, 58, originally joined the Marlins organization as Manager before the 2016 season. He has since managed more games (636) in Marlins franchise history than anyone else, going 272-364 (.428). His 272 victories as Marlins Manager are the third-most in franchise history behind Jack McKeon (281) and Fredi González (276).

Mattingly’s contract had been set to expire after this season, his fourth in Miami. CEO Derek Jeter, another former Yankee, said Mattingly remains the right person for the job even though the Marlins went into the weekend with 99 losses as they stagger to the end of their 10th consecutive losing season.

“When I think about who we want to lead this team moving forward, Don Mattingly is the right person,” Jeter said. “He and I have had many conversations over the last couple of years where we’ve shared our frustrations about what’s been going on the field. But Donnie believes in our vision, he believes in our direction, and he’s all in. He has showed a lot of patience with our young, developing team. He understands what we’re building here.”

The Marlins haven’t been to the playoffs since 2003 and may still be at least a couple of years away from contending. But depth in young pitching leaves Jeter and Mattingly optimistic about improvement next season.

The 2020 season will mark his 10th year as a Major League Manager. Currently, only nine Managers have more years at the helm (including Bruce Bochy, who will be retiring after this season). He is the longest-tenured Manager among National League East teams, and among current NL skippers, only three – Joe Maddon (Cubs – 5 yrs), Craig Counsell (Brewers – 5 yrs) and Clint Hurdle (Pirates – 9 yrs) – have managed their current team longer than Mattingly.

A native of Evansville, Indiana, Mattingly’s coaching/managing career began in 2004 as hitting coach with the New York Yankees, a position he served for three seasons before becoming bench coach for the 2007 season. He joined the Dodgers as hitting coach for the second half of the 2008 season and two additional seasons until being named the Dodgers Manager to begin the 2011 season. He made three straight postseason appearances at the helm of the Dodgers from 2013-15.

Mattingly’s record with the Marlins is 272-364 (.428). Before he came to Miami prior to the 2016 season, the Marlins had seven managers in a six-year span, and he’ll be the first to start the fifth season with the team.

With a 272-364 record, he has managed the most games in team history, and his win total ranks third in franchise history behind Jack McKeon (281) and Fredi Gonzalez (276).

Rojas, who has been with the Marlins since 2015, is hitting .285 with five home runs and 45 RBIs this season. The 30-year-old shortstop missed 23 games in August after suffering a strained hamstring.

Mattingly has managed a clubhouse that has always been a calm and loose one despite the team on the verge of only winning under 60 games for the season, an NL worst. The Marlins continue to be in rebuilding mode, despite trading away key pieces in recent seasons such as Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, J.T. Realmuto, and Marcell Ozuna.

Jeter and Mattingly have shown patience; however, the Marlins are currently like a pre-owned Hyundai Sonata. Mattingly has been given the keys to continue driving; it is up to Jeter to eventually trade it in for a luxury model car because of his revive farm system or Mattingly to crash it with the same results from a losing product.

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