The Miami Marlins officially welcomed Skip Schumaker as the club’s new manager last week with an elaborate press conference signaling a new era for the franchise.
Though the hire was made official last month, the Marlins elected to introduce Schumaker just as the baseball world was wrapping up the World Series and preparing for offseason meetings.
Schumaker was introduced alongside general manager Kim Ng and principal owner Bruce Sherman Nov. 3 in front of a gathering of media members, Marlins staff, and season ticket holders at loanDepot Park.
Schumaker, 43, will take over for Don Mattingly, who had served in the role since 2016 and was the longest tenured manager in Marlins history. Ironically, Schumaker played for Mattingly in 2013 as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But that was just one of many stops along the winding baseball road for him. Schumaker served as first base coach for the San Diego Padres from 2018 until he was promoted to associate manager in the 2020 season. In 2021, he was hired as a bench coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, the team he spent eight of his 11 major league seasons with.
But this is his first managing job in the majors, and a turning point in the franchise’s history. Schumaker’s hiring, after all, is the first during Ng’s tenure as GM and under Sherman’s ownership. It was the result of an intensive process that included at least ten candidates and multiple interview rounds.
“I can tell you, between several staff members and I, we probably talked to 150 people between the several of us, on all the candidates,” Ng said. “We tried to be extremely thorough.”
Though the search was extensive, Schumaker seemed to be a natural fit early on.
Speaking about his first meeting with Ng, the manager said, “I drove down there (to San Diego) expecting about an hour’s conversation. I think it ended up being three hours. … It was so natural, and the group that she had there, it just felt right, high-character people, people that I wanted to be around.”
As to what impressed Ng, it can be boiled down to one shared goal: winning.
“I basically wanted someone who was going to build a culture, in which we were relentlessly pursuing a win every night,” Ng said. “Through our interviews, 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, embodied that.”
“The first thing she was talking about was winning. How we get to the postseason is what I’m concerned about every single day,” he said. “How do we get to the postseason not just one year, but year after year after year.”
Schumaker and Ng indeed are ready to win, but the Marlins, who lost 93 games last year and finished fourth in the NL East, face a number of obstacles in doing so. The rotation, anchored by NL Cy Young Favorite Sandy Alcantara, will be one of the league’s best, but the bullpen’s ERA of 4.15 was the 9th worst in the Majors. On the other side of the ball, the Marlins offense was 27th in OPS.
They also play in the NL East, arguably one of the toughest divisions in the sport, which boasts the 2022 World Series Runners-up Philadelphia Phillies, 2021 World Series Champion Atlanta Braves, and the 101-win New York Mets.
The answers to questions surrounding the offense and divisional foes will have to wait until the season starts, but as Schumaker attempts to build a relationship with his players and the fans of the city of Miami, one obstacle will have an immediate impact. The language barrier.
“Not great,” Schumaker chuckled when asked about his Spanish. “Yeah, not great.”