Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng said the decision was not made lightly but was one that needed to be made.
Emotion had to be separated from the business decision as the Marlins and manager Don Mattingly mutually agreed not to seek a contract extension, ending his tenure with the Marlins at the end of this season — his seventh with the organization.
“Definitely a tough day, for the organization as well as for me personally,” said Ng, who is finishing her second year as the Marlins’ general manager and overlapped with Mattingly with the Los Angeles Dodgers for four years. “Donnie’s always been a high-character guy who has been consistent every day. Really tough.”
Ng spoke with reporters for about 10 minutes during the second inning of Sunday’s game against the Washington Nationals about the news and the state of the organization moving forward. Here are the highlights.
Why announce the decision now, when there’s only about a week and a half left in the season?
“I don’t know if there’s ever a good day for this type of thing. I think in order for Don to also say good bye to people, it’s hard to do that the day after the season. [Sunday] was fine and [Monday’s] an off day. I think it gives everyone a little bit of a chance to breathe.”
What did the conversations with Mattingly involve and when did they begin?
“First of all, I personally would like to thank Don for his contributions to the Marlins organization over these years. Donnie is just a consummate professional and a tremendous person. He’s led the organization through some pretty tough times, particularly early in his tenure [following Jose Fernandez’s death in 2016] and then with the last couple of years leading the club through a pandemic and lockout. In terms of the timeline, I can’t tell you exactly when this all started, but it’s been over the course of a number of conversations. I think when you have a season like this one where everyone is disappointed at the end of the year, you reflect quite a bit. A lot of self reflection, I think, on everybody’s part. It was through conversations that I think we all just got to the same place.”
Would the outcome had been different if the results this year were different?
“I think that’s always going to be a consideration. We’re an outcomes-based industry. I think there was a lot of reflection that went on the last couple months on everybody’s part.”
Whether outcomes are great or subpar, how do you assess the manager’s effect on those outcomes?
“I do think there is an effect. I know that there’s a lot of debate within the industry on how much effect a manager has, but he is the one that is leading the team and I think for that reason alone, it’s something that you have to think has some strong correlation.”
One thing that was mentioned in statements from both Mattingly and Bruce Sherman was the need for a “new voice.” Was there a disconnect between Mattingly and the clubhouse?
“I didn’t sense any disconnect. I’ve watched the club intently the last couple of months. They’re still playing hard, but sometimes somebody new adds a little bit something different that clicks. I think between all parties, this was just the way we decided to go.”
The organization came into the season optimistic about contending. Where is your confidence level in where things stand with baseball operations as a whole at this point?
“This year was very disappointing. Obviously, we had a lot of bad luck as well in terms of injuries. There were a lot of injuries. I think the record is not indicative of the talent that we have on this club, and I think we have to do a lot of introspection in terms of our processes and our operations on how we fix that.”
That introspection and evaluation is up and down the organization and baseball operations correct?
Is there a prototypical person you’re looking for in the next manager?
“We’re looking for someone to help build a culture in which we are relentlessly putting ourselves in a position to win every night. There are a lot of layers to that, right? But through the vetting process and interviewing process, we will get deeper.”
Does the next manager have to have Major League managing experience these days or not necessarily?
“I think it’s important, but I wouldn’t say that’s a prerequisite, either.”
What’s the timeline?
“We want somebody in as soon as possible to get to know the players, to help with our offseason, but I will say that this is a really big decision for the organization. We have to make sure we take our time over the next however many weeks. We’re going to be vetting and interviewing quite a number of candidates. We;ll just make sure we take our time.”