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Mattingly on MOY honor, staff, Hill and more

@JoeFrisaro
October 20, 2020

MIAMI -- As a player, Don Mattingly had his share of personal accolades in his storied 14-year career with the Yankees. “Donnie Baseball” was a batting champion in 1984, the American League Most Valuable Player Award winner in '85 and a six-time All-Star. While gratifying, Mattingly notes they represent individual

MIAMI -- As a player, Don Mattingly had his share of personal accolades in his storied 14-year career with the Yankees. “Donnie Baseball” was a batting champion in 1984, the American League Most Valuable Player Award winner in '85 and a six-time All-Star.

While gratifying, Mattingly notes they represent individual accomplishments.

Last week, Mattingly won an award that he actually was more excited about -- being named National League Manager of the Year by Sporting News.

“I’m usually not a guy that gets very excited about that kind of stuff,” Mattingly said. “I’ve had enough success -- MVP, batting title. Those are things that don’t kind of make me excited. But this is one that’s excitement.”

The reason is Mattingly feels that Manager of the Year honor reflects an organizational accomplishment, because the team made huge strides after back-to-back last-place finishes.

Under Mattingly’s direction in the abbreviated 60-game schedule, the Marlins reached the postseason for the first time since 2003 and enjoyed their first winning season since '09.

The Marlins were one of MLB’s most surprising storylines in an unprecedented season. In 2019, they lost 105 games. But they were able to overcome adversity to reach the postseason, advancing to the NL Division Series before being eliminated by the Braves.

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“I look at this award as an organizational award,” Mattingly said. “You have to have a great staff. Your players have to perform.”

The award may be the first of at least a couple of top managerial honors for Mattingly. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) awards will be handed out after the World Series. Mattingly is one of the NL Manager of the Year favorites.

Here are some of the topics Mattingly addressed during a Zoom call with media on Tuesday:

Coaching staff’s status
The fate of Mattingly’s coaching staff is uncertain, especially those on one-year contracts, which expire on Oct. 31.

“That’s kind of up in the air in the industry,” Mattingly said. “I don’t think anybody knows what’s going to happen next year.”

How the staff rounds out may also depend on turnover with other clubs, and if other teams pursue anyone on Miami’s staff.

In the next few days, chief executive officer Derek Jeter and the front office, in cooperation with Mattingly, are expected to discuss the staff.

“We haven’t had those talks at all,” Mattingly said. “But I’m sure it’s something that’s going to have to happen fairly quickly, because you have to talk to your people and let them know what you’re thinking.”

Parting ways with president of baseball operations Michael Hill
“From a personal standpoint, it was tough,” Mattingly said. “We worked together for five years, and have been fighting to get this built.

“This is a just a relationship that you build and someone you talk to every day. You talk about pitching, and what do we need to do to get better? How do you get better? That relationship you build, and that’s tough when this goes down.”

Catching situation
With so many young pitchers, the Marlins went with Chad Wallach over Jorge Alfaro at catcher late in the season and in the playoffs. The reason was his ability to handle the staff.

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“Maybe with young pitching, it was more important than anything,” Mattingly said. “The catcher has to be there and be a guy who is leading these young guys, because they don’t really know what they want to do.

“That’s why Chad ended up starting at the end. We felt he was better equipped to follow a game plan and have a feeling where we wanted to go. I like Jorge a lot. I think he has to continue to grow in that area and continue to understand what our pitchers do, and how to grow with them.”

Rotation candidates
Projecting the rotation, Mattingly noted three who would be considered “locks.” He mentioned Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López and Elieser Hernandez, who missed the final month and the playoffs due to a strained right lat.

Left off the “locked list” were rookies Sixto Sánchez and Trevor Rogers, both of whom made their MLB debuts this season and pitched in the postseason. That doesn’t mean either won’t be in the rotation at the start of 2021, but Mattingly reminds they may need some more Minor League polish.

“We know what Sixto showed he’s capable of,” Mattingly said. “We’ve also seen some downsides to that and areas he needs to grow. So that will be more discussions. Trevor Rogers is in that same boat. You see upside, but you also see things that, would it help him to continue to develop?”

A decision also will have to be made on José Ureña, who has one year left in arbitration. He sustained a fractured right wrist in the last game of the regular season. Rookie Nick Neidert is another rotation candidate.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.