Ozzie Guillen gathered his players inside the Marlins clubhouse on Wednesday, and in his final speech to them — perhaps his final speech as Marlins manager — he told them how much he appreciated their hard work.
“I know we were a very bad team,” said Guillen, never one to mince words. “But I appreciate the effort and respect the players give me. They play hard. They play bad.”
Did they ever.
In terms of wins and losses, the 69-93 Marlins closed out the third-worst campaign in franchise history on Wednesday with a 4-2 loss to the Mets. Only the 108-loss 1998 team and 98-loss ’99 club fared worse.
A season that started with so much promise and hype fizzled like a wet sparkler. Now comes an unpredictable offseason, one that could bring significant change in the dugout, starting with Guillen himself.
The man who will decide Guillen’s fate, owner Jeffrey Loria, did not attend the season finale, leaving the manager and his coaching staff in limbo. Loria, after watching Adam Greenberg get his at-bat on Tuesday, flew home to New York.
“Right now I’m still a Marlin,” Guillen said. “And I’d love to be a Marlin. The kind of year we had, you never know.”
Guillen still has three years remaining on a four-year deal. But, even though the club owes him $7.5 million over the remainder of his contract, there’s no guarantee he’ll be back.
The front office is scheduled to meet with Loria later this month to decide what direction to take — and what steps must be made to improve this year’s disaster of a team.
The future of the rest of the coaching staff is also up in the air, from hitting coach Eduardo Perez to pitching coach Randy St. Claire and everyone else.
“I think they’re all going to have a meeting soon about it,” Guillen said. “It’s a very tough situation because we cannot demand [them] to talk to us about any job. We all failed, and we’ve all been a big part of this bad season.
“Right now it’s too hard to make decisions because everybody right now is very bitter and very upset and very disappointed by the season. And when you make decisions when you’re very upset, you might make mistakes.”
Changes are also expected to occur with the roster, though the Marlins will take a more conservative approach and not unload millions on free agents the way they did last winter. That strategy backfired.
Instead, the Marlins will look to improve through creative trades and smaller signings, with third base and the bullpen considered the top priorities.
The Marlins closed out their first year in Marlins Park in front of 27,418, bringing the final home attendance total to 2,219,442 — the third-highest figure in club history but well short of the team’s internal projection of at least 2.8 million.
Andres Torres, Scott Hairston and Ike Davis each homered for the Mets, preventing the Marlins from completing their first series sweep since the first of July.
The Marlins put together a rally in the eighth inning. But Gorkys Hernandez was thrown out between second and third, and the Marlins managed to score just one run in the inning.
“The guy [Hernandez] run with his head down, got thrown out, the inning’s over,” said Guillen. “That’s another checkmark for the season.”
Guillen said he was looking forward to putting this season behind him. He and his wife are scheduled to leave for Europe on Thursday.
Alluding to problem-plagued American Airlines, Guillen said, “Watch. That American Airlines flight will be late. That’s my year.”