Just had our annual, end-of-season sit-down with president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest. Some of the highlights from the 30-minute season debriefing:
-- Beinfest said it was apparent even before the rash of injuries toward the end of the season that the Marlins weren't a playoff-caliber team. Said Beinfest: "We never won a bunch in a row. Never lost a bunch in a row. Never really got it going. I think a lot of people will focus on the last six weeks and the injuries and say, maybe that's why. But when you look back on it in total, we never really got it going. It was never sustained winning. We never really made a big push. Even when you look at the most basic things, where we rank in batting average and ERA, we're just in the middle of the pack. And that's where we ended up. We ended up in the middle of the pack, right around .500."
-- Beinfest said the offseason would be spent trying to improve the bullpen: "We definitely need to upgrade the bullpen. There needs to be more depth. There needs to be more quality. There needs to be more balance in terms of left/right. From my perspective, I think one of the greatest challenges for this organization is putting together a bullpen. It's probably one of our greater challenges."
-- On catching: "I think (Brett) Hayes and (Brad) Davis have done a really nice job in September. Obviously we need John Baker back. We need (Ronny) Paulino unsuspended. We're going to have to fortify the catching."
-- On defense: "We still did not make the strides defensively. So now we have to spend the offseason saying: Are these people going to continue to get better? Was it good enough? Or was it actually the personnel? Are we going to have to change out some of the personnel to improve the defense to get it to the level that we need?"
-- On the third-base situation, with Chris Coghlan penciled in for that position: "Let's face it, Matt Dominguez is coming. He played very well in the second half. Defensively he is well above average. We know Chris can play the outfield if something happens in the offseason that we want to make some changes. We know he can go back out there. As of today, we'll start hitting some ground balls when he's healthy and getting him ready."
-- On the timetable for naming a permanent manager: "As quickly as possible I think would be the organization's preference, to have the manager and coaching staff in place. We met with all the coaches, explained the situation to them. Our pitching coach, Randy St. Claire, is under contract for this year so he will be back. The other coaches....will be considered." Beinfest said he has not yet asked other teams for permission to speak with prospective candidates.
-- On the performance of Hanley Ramirez: "You can ask him, but coming from .342 to where he is today, he's going to finish at .300, I think we ask a lot of Hanley. I think we have high expectations only because of his talent. Hanley, his arm's bothered him for a good part of the year and he hung in there. Did he hit .342? No. I think he is going to be an elite player for a long time, whether that means he's going to be somewhere between .300 and .342, that's how we judge him, I don't know. He will probably tell you at times he had down times that he wasn't accustomed to. But that happens in this game. I think sometimes we lose some appreciation for it, the impact of the player in total, the way he can run, the way he can command a game. At times he can just take over because of his talent."