As the Marlins begin Spring Training as pitchers and catchers report for camp in Jupiter, Florida today, CEO Derek Jeter is still working to build a contending baseball team.
This is still a team in the process of building a foundation for a winning franchise. Putting any kind of timetable on when this organization will contend for mediocrity, let alone a playoff berth is still a work in progress. After a year that saw the team plummet to become one of the worst in Major League Baseball in 2018, the reality of another losing season has already sunk in.
The Miami Marlins will lose more than they win once again in 2019. It’s the same old song. Now new news to report here.
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"“We’re excited about the direction [of the franchise],” Jeter said. “We still have a long way to go; I don’t know if I’ll ever be satisfied. As an organization, we’ve taken some great strides, and we’ll continue to do that.”"
That long way is taking a road trip with no end in sight. The destination is set on a course for success, but knowing when the Marlins are “there yet” is an unreasonable expectation at this point. While a healthy mix of youngsters and veterans arrive at Roger Dean Stadium this week, the balance of having to continue to develop this roster is something the front office knew wasn’t an easy fix.
And yes, the 98 losses the Marlins suffered in 2018 will be challenged this season. Six months of baseball may seem like another lifetime once again.
The foundation being build is predicated on young arms developing into a pitching staff that becomes dominant in the rotation and the bullpen. Once again, Jose Urena and Dan Straily will be asked to anchor the rotation. The bullpen is still somewhat of a mystery.
The batting order has another hole with the trade of J.T. Realmuto. The power the team lacks from a year ago is still MIA and Jorge Alfaro, the team’s new backstop, doesn’t possess the same skills as the former catcher does.
There is hope and optimism, but there is also reality and understanding.
"“I don’t put a time frame on it, because anytime you put a time frame on it, you’re telling your team it’s OK to accept mediocrity,” Jeter said. “That’s not the case. I said it before and I’ll say it again — when you’re competing, you’re competing to win. You do that every single day. Every day you come out and play a game, you have an opportunity to win. That’s the mindset I want throughout this organization and the mindset we’re creating in the minor league system and we’re going to bring it up to Miami.“You never put a time frame on it. You come out and say it’s going to take us, five, 10, 15 years, you’re saying it’s OK to lose and that’s not the case.”"
The fans won’t want to hear this, but patience is once again being asked by Jeter and the organization. There is no guarantee on the investment in believing in the team. We can only hope the progress made from a year ago is enough for baseball enthusiasts to realize. The Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Indians, Dodgers and Astros weren’t built in a day.
All of them are contenders. Hopefully, we all see the process, believe in it and still hope for a playoff berth sooner rather than later.