The Miami Marlins are long past the point of contending for a National League playoff spot, and the team is already trying to figure out what it can do differently next year to avoid a repeat of 2012. After handing out $190 million worth of new contracts last winter, it is back to the drawing board.
"I think it's going to be an interesting October, a little different than the October we envisioned," team president David Samson told the Miami Herald. The team normally holds a post-mortem with top management at the end of the season, and owner Jeffrey Loria was hoping for a more valedictory affair after the 2012 season. Instead, he, Samson, and president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest have to rethink their approach to building a title contender.
"Jeffrey's going to look at everything," Samson continued. "I mean, he's angry, and he should be. It's hard to think you put a plan together and almost every part of the plan does not work out, either by injury or non-performance."
Samson admitted that the Marlins overestimated their own talent after last winter's spending spree, when the team added SS Jose Reyes, RHP Mark Buehrle, and closer Heath Bell, while also missing out on high-priced free agents Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, and Yoenis Cespedes.
"I think the most responsibility falls on me," Samson said of the Marlins' struggles this season, adding that Beinfest and general manager Michael Hill share responsibility with him.
Even so, Samson says he trusts the Marlins' process, even if the outcome did not turn out as hoped. "I wouldn't change one thing," he said. "What we did was exactly right, but it was wrong."
Samson seems to partly blame bad luck for the Marlins' struggles ("That's sort of the message to the fans, that this year has to be an anomaly, because it can't be more than one year in a row, everything can go wrong"). The team has dealt with a panoply of injuries to starting position players, and Bell has not resembled the dominant closer the team thought they bought in December.
Still, while no one expected Miami to be 11 games under .500 in August, neither were predictions of a World Series being touted outside of South Florida this spring. The consensus of advanced stats gurus' projection systems saw the team posting 86 wins in 2012, not bad, but also not good enough to grab a Wild Card berth in the playoffs.
The Marlins have some tough decisions to make this offseason, but chief among them is the choice to take off the rose-colored glasses and see this team for what it really is: a collection of some top-shelf talent (including Reyes, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Johnson, and others) combined with a number of marginal players and as-yet unfulfilled promises.