Schumaker aims to bring winning culture to Marlins

November 3rd, 2022

MIAMI -- Win win win.

Over the past month, the Marlins conducted an exhaustive managerial search, interviewing upwards of 150 people in order to find the right fit to lead their ballclub. It took five minutes of a three-hour-long conversation with Skip Schumaker for something he said to strike a chord with general manager Kim Ng: Players can never outwork the coaches.

"I basically wanted somebody who is going to help build a culture in which we are relentlessly pursuing a win every single night," Ng said. "Through our interviews and through our conversations with Skip, it was clear to me that his vision, his attitude, his work ethic, his attention to detail and his communication skills, combined that desire for that type of culture."

Still recovering from the Cardinals' National League Wild Card Series loss to the Phillies, a frustrated Schumaker was shocked when president of baseball operations John Mozeliak asked whether he wanted to interview with the Marlins. Soon afterward, he drove an hour south to San Diego, where he felt an immediate rapport with Ng and her staff. It went so well that Schumaker flew out to New York to meet with the ownership group for another three hours. At an ensuing dinner, Ng was feeling under the weather, but Schumaker's enthusiasm for the game, as well as his steadiness and consistency, stood out.

Both honest and forthright, Schumaker spoke about winning and what it meant during those conversations and in his introductory press conference on Thursday morning at loanDepot park. A fifth-round selection in the 2001 MLB Draft, he developed under the "Cardinal Way." Schumaker has often been asked about it over the years, and he broke it down like this:

1. Communication
2. Accountability
3. Preparation

"Skip, for me, it was a couple of simple words: 'How do you run your clubhouse?' Certain things are negotiable. Other things are totally non-negotiable," Marlins chairman and principal owner Bruce Sherman said. "And then we got into the Cardinal culture, and the Cardinal culture had a lot of Hall of Famers and superstars, quite honestly, in that clubhouse, where he would lean on. We're trying to develop those Hall of Famers and superstars, and it was a question of how he answered that question on who you're going to lean on."

St. Louis has the annual expectation of reaching the World Series. That type of sustainable success is what Ng hopes to achieve, proclaiming the Marlins are "ready to win" despite a disappointing fourth-place finish in the NL East. Sherman asked members of the organization -- from the front office to scouts -- to weigh in and rank the managerial candidates. Schumaker came out on top for everyone.

While the 42-year-old Schumaker will be a first-time skipper, he has learned from the likes of Tony La Russa and Don Mattingly. A bench player and two-time World Series champion over his 11-year MLB career, Schumaker was able to observe and learn. It was around his time on the bench that he considered managing as a post-playing career.

Since retiring following the 2015 season, it has been a quick rise. Schumaker served as an assistant to baseball operations and player development for the Padres from 2016-17, then joined the field staff as the first-base coach ('18-19) and associate manager ('20-21) before becoming the Cardinals' bench coach in '22.

"I can't speak enough about the grit and the grinder mentality that Skip brings to the table," Ng said. "We're looking for that to be infused into the club. Skip got every ounce of ability out of his talent. That's something that I'm pretty intrigued by."

Though Schumaker has been the skipper for just over a week, it didn't dawn on him until he put on his No. 55 Marlins home jersey. He already has begun planting the seeds of the culture he hopes to build, connecting with players like All-Star second baseman and being part of front-office meetings ahead of the Hot Stove season.

Ng and Sherman are confident Schumaker's vision, leadership and integrity make him a great fit to build the type of culture that will breed success. Winning doesn't come easy, as Ng and Schumaker acknowledged. The process will only take the club as far as the execution.

"I believe when you walk in the door, you're either getting better or you're getting worse; you don't stay [the same]," Schumaker said. "So that's my expectation. I'm not a big box checker. I don't check boxes, like, 'Oh, you just show up and do your work and see what happens.' I believe in, 'You should be getting better every single day or you're not going to be a Marlin,' and I believe in, 'You build the player up, or you push them out.' You're either going to buy in or you don't, and then we'll find out right away who you are."