Pile these facts on top of each other and decide where the Miami Marlins naming Skip Schumaker as manager fits.
Their payroll ranks 27th.
Their offense ranks 28th.
Their attendance ranks 29th.
They have three minor leaguers among MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects, and only one of them, 49th-ranked Jacob Berry, is a needed bat.
They’ll spend $60 million over the next three years on last offseason’s big buys, who struggled mightily: Avisail Garcia (three years, $36 million) and Jorge Soler (two years, $24 million).
Kim Ng’s background leans toward being an administrative general manager, meaning the vacant assistant general manager’s job takes on added importance for baseball decisions.
Second baseman Jazz Chisholm missed 102 games last year and still finished second on the team in home runs to Jesus Aguilar, who was released in August.
Pablo Lopez, the No. 2 starting pitcher, is on the doorstep of needing a big contract or a roster-altering trade.
This is what we know, too, before getting into the teaching talent in the minor leagues or even the dollars invested in the scouting department.
Enter Schumaker, who comes from the best organization in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, and with the substantive portfolio from a playing career to a bench coach. But he’ll matter only when the talent around him matters. The captain counts when the boat floats.
This isn’t entirely complicated. The Marlins aren’t good, and they won’t be until they score more runs. Can a new manager really change that?
Nor can he change the fact that they’ve had three previous Marlins owners — H. Wayne Huizenga, John Henry and Jeffrey Loria — with more reported money than the current owner in Bruce Sherman, and they refused to throw millions at roster problems. Sherman won’t, either.
The Marlins can’t erase problems with money like their National League East rivals, each of whom made the playoffs with double and triple the payroll. Philadelphia is in the World Series with a $254 million payroll — compared to the Marlins’ $95 million. The Marlins don’t have that money to buy a bat — or hire a manager, for that matter.
“You have to accept who you are,’ Don Mattingly said at the end of his seven years as manager.
The Marlins are a small-market, small-payroll team that has to win on the kind of smarts they haven’t shown any of lately. That’s why former CEO Derek Jeter and his baseball man, Gary Denbow, are gone. They couldn’t win. It’s why Mattingly is gone, too, tired of banging his head against the dugout wall.
The Marlins have the most impactful thing you need to win big in baseball with their starting pitching. They have an aces of aces in Sandy Alcantara, and a strong lineup from Lopez to young arms down the line.
Do they trade Alcantara for a treasure chest of players? If so, would they get that trade right, considering some of their baseball decisions of late?
The lineup is such a disaster even the good news isn’t good. The Marlins finished second in baseball with 122 stolen bases. That’s something, right? Except they finished behind the Texas Rangers, who named their new manager last week.
That tells you the importance of small-ball ideas like stolen bases in the era of the home run. The Marlins finished 24th in home runs. Again, again, Chisholm was the leader in the clubhouse despite missing nearly two-thirds of last season.
Mattingly was forthright with answers in his exit interviews except for one internal issue: Is the lack of prospects feeding this roster a problem of drafting or developing? This nature-versus-nurture question is at the heart of the Marlins’ decisions.
Of the 12 playoff teams this year, three were in the lower third of payrolls: Seattle (21), Tampa Bay (24) and Cleveland (28). Each won with cheap, young talent as its base. So it can be done, and repeatedly, if you’re as smart as Tampa Bay in drafting players and developing them to the majors.
Mattingly talked of lacking good players who were raised inside the system and were major-league ready upon promotion. That speaks to larger issues, ones Ng and whomever she hires as assistant general manager must fix.
The Marlins need a smart manager, and Schumaker is considered that in baseball circles. But his role only matters when the talent on his lineup card does.