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Tipsheet: Schumaker faces no-win scenario with long-suffering Marlins

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Cardinals 6, Pirates 2

Cardinals bench coach Skip Schumaker, left, talks to pitching coach Dusty Blake on Saturday, April 9, 2022, while acting as manager in the absence of Oliver Marmol during in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

St. Louis Cardinals president of operations John Mozeliak on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, discusses how the team's pitching coach, hitting coach, and bullpen coach will all not be returning.

When an opportunity arises to manage a big league club, you pretty much have to say “yes” when somebody calls.

Well-established managers can be somewhat patient, but the industry is leaning hard toward younger managers like Oliver Marmol and Skip Schumaker. Bruce Bochy was well aware of this trend when he agreed to manage the moribund Texas Rangers after taking his hiatus from the dugout.

As for the younger guys, like Schumaker, they must grab the opportunity that comes. There are just a few openings per year, at best, and terrific baseball men like Stubby Clapp can get stuck in the middle of the line for years and years while waiting for somebody to call their number.

So Schumaker went to left his bench coach role with the Cardinals for the Marlins, a franchise with notable young pitching led by Sandy Alcantara and a baseball operation led by forward-thinking general manager Kim Ng.

“He's going to be great,” Schmuaker’s predecessor, Don Mattingly, told MLB.com. “I think the people of Miami will like him. He'll do a great job. He's going to be good.”

But this team has no offense to speak of. The franchise plays in an indifferent market and it’s stuck in the brutally competitive National League East.

The Atlanta Braves are loaded with talent, thanks to their elite player development operation. The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies have committed owners willing to spend whatever it takes to satisfy their huge fan bases.

So the up-for-sale Washington Nationals and the always rebuilding Marlins are doomed until further notice. Tipsheet would argue that even the Kansas City Royals opening offers more upside -- despite the team’s failed tank-and-rebuild project – because the American League Central offers more upward mobility.

The Marlins have suffered 90 or more losses eight times since 2011. Their one postseason appearance since 2003 came during the shortened 2020 pandemic season.

The Marlins lost its nominal chief, Derek Jeter, due to his concerns about commitment. Maybe owner Bruce Sherman is ready to spend more of his revenue sharing-dollars on talent now, but color us skeptical.

Writing for Baseball Prospectus, Steven Goldman expressed his doubts about Schumaker’s potential for success:

The Miami Marlins have hired Cardinals bench coach Skip Schumaker to replace Don Mattingly. Ol’ Donnie Baseball neither quit nor was fired, but was observed to be slowly fading away like The Last Supper. The Marlins have that effect on most managers unless they happen to be the lucky ones who show up just when the owner-of-the-moment is having some sort of manhood crisis and decides to buy a pennant. Everyone else erodes under the stress of having to pretend there’s a point to it all while undergoing the longest sustained existential crisis in human history: “Why are there Marlins? Why am I here? No one else is here so how do I know I am here?” Putting the team’s inflexible budgetary constraints aside, any manager, having been saddled with 17 copies of the same slumpy guy, would have struggled to win despite a solid starting rotation.

An identical future awaits Schumaker, and that’s sad because most losing managers do not get approximately 3,000 games to show what they’re made of, which is to say that had he been given the 1927 Yankees he’d go down in history, but at best he’s been given the 1972 Yankees and so he’s doomed. He has already been victimized by the Law of Managerial Contingency, which says it’s not who they are, it’s their context. If you get your shot with the wrong team and fail to demonstrate an ability to raise the dead, you are demoted back to the coaching lines. Think of almost everyone who has ever managed the Phillies or the Rangers. A few got the job at the correct precious moment in team history. For most it was like being mailed to the Zone of Obscurity, just south of the Realm of Even Your Own Mom Has Forgotten You. 

Best of luck Skip.

BACK UP THE BRINKS TRUCK FOR JUDGE

Here is what folks are writing about Aaron Judge’s free-agent sweepstakes:

Jeff Passan, ESPN.com: “Until Judge’s successful chase of a record-setting 62nd home run, the Yankees' brand had not been so closely associated with present-day excellence since their 2009 championship, a fact that should theoretically make his return a matter of when rather than if. And yet there is nothing linear about the winter ahead. Los Angeles offers sunshine and winning, San Francisco an easy car ride for his dutiful parents to make from the small central California town where he grew up, a borough-hop to Queens to play for the Mets an option if Judge enjoys the trappings of New York without the traps of being a Yankee. It is a mess of curves and twists, of sales pitches and posturing, of fantastical amounts of money and the duties that dollars connote. Judge, the son of two educators, already is a richer man than he could ever have imagined. He was making $19 million this year and, over the course of the season, played himself into a deal that should exceed $300 million. That's still true, even after Judge went 5-for-36 in seven postseason games. That final out capped a 1-for-16 showing in a humiliating American League Championship Series sweep by Houston. Two dreadful weeks won't stop any owner from remembering what Judge did this season to get the Yankees there in the first place. In the second-unfriendliest hitting environment of the past 30 years by OPS -- only 2014's .700 was lower than this season's .706, and it has been a half-century since a worse batting average and on-base percentage -- Judge was as head and shoulders above his peers in hitting as he is in stature.”

Dayn Perry, CBSSports.com: “A return to the Yankees remains the most likely outcome. They've not been spending in line with their near-limitless revenues of late, but losing Judge would be a blow to an organization that already seems drained of energy. If Judge decides to ink elsewhere, then high-revenue clubs like the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants will be in the running. Potential dark horses include the St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, and – why not – the Houston Astros. This of course isn't an exhaustive list, and every marquee free agency seems to yield one or more surprise suitors. That will probably be the case with Judge once the madness begins very soon.”

Joel Sherman, New York Post: “Hal Steinbrenner needs to reach out to Aaron Judge. Not Brian Cashman. Not an intermediary. This is a job for the Yankees owner. He should tell Judge to decompress after a disappointing end to a season that taxed the slugger mentally and physically as he carried a franchise and pursued history. But Steinbrenner should also tell Judge he would like to meet in person sooner than later. They both live in Tampa, so the logistics are not an issue. Once together, Steinbrenner should ask Judge face-to-face with no other prying eyes and ears — ‘Do you really want to be a Yankee for the rest of your career more than anything else?’ If Judge says, ‘Yes,’ then Steinbrenner should tell him, “great then bring in your agent, I have my guys outside and let’s not leave the room without reaching an agreement.’ Because this is what the ‘quiet period’ between the end of the regular season to the conclusion of the World Series is supposed to be about. There is, by rule, no tampering allowed in this window (fill in your own laugh track). This is when a player’s current team is permitted a final exclusive period to retain their player before the sport-wide seduction ensues. So this would be a moment for Steinbrenner to essentially make this case: ‘The bid we made in spring [seven years at $213.5 million] is irrelevant to the negotiation now because your 2022 season takes you to a different financial stratosphere. We are here to get a deal done understanding that. If this is the resolution you seek, then let’s avoid all the nastiness and hard feelings that emerge in free agency by both of us having to negotiate with potential replacements.’”

Jay Jaffe, FanGraphs: “That son Hal Steinbrenner, the current managing general partner, is rational where his father [George] was impulsive drives such people batty, particularly when he publicly reasserts his commitment ‘to do everything we’re able to do to field a championship caliber team and try to win a World Series,’ as he did in March. Critics can rightly point to the fact that the Yankees were outspent by the Mets and Dodgers by tens of millions of dollars, though their $249 million payroll ($264 million for tax purposes) wasn’t enough to get them past the Astros, who ‘only’ spent $179 million. Not all of the Yankees’ money was well spent. For example, they received -0.2 WAR for Aroldis Chapman’s $16 million, 1.6 WAR for Josh Donaldson’s $23.75 million and 1.2 WAR for Giancarlo Stanton’s $29 million. Yet the ability to run a high payroll doesn’t mean hitting on every expenditure to justify it, it means not being sunk when some of those moves — such as Chapman’s collapse — don’t pan out. As the Yankees haven’t won a World Series since 2009, and now seem to be further behind the Astros than they were three years ago, it’s fair to wonder just how much change is needed, and what the organization’s options are. That goes not just for their quest to retain Judge following his historic 62-homer, 11.5 WAR season, but for the leadership driving that effort.” 

MEGAPHONE

“Always thought that Skip was going to be a good coach. Didn't know he had aspirations to manage, but seeing him in the bench-coach [role] over the last couple of years, you had a feeling that he was heading in that direction.”

Mattingly, on Schumaker.

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