Miami Marlins: What I have learned about this team so far

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 7: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Miami Marlins is tagged out at home during the ninth inning by Brian McCann #16 of the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on July 7, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JULY 7: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Miami Marlins is tagged out at home during the ninth inning by Brian McCann #16 of the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on July 7, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

In a season where the Miami Marlins have not won many games, there are still valuable lessons I have learned about this team so far in 2019.

Like I’ve discussed before, it’s hard at times to separate being a sports fan and covering the team you like. It’s been a bit of a struggle this year deciphering between the two when it comes to the Miami Marlins.

I haven’t covered Major League Baseball as long as some of our other writers here at Fansided, but I have come to live with excitement and heartache just like other fans of the team down in South Florida. And as a fan of baseball for the past 44 years, I have come to understand the difference between the “haves”. and the “have not’s.”

This Marlins team is a mixture of both. This first half of baseball, despite a losing record, is proof this team has plenty of upside, but doesn’t have enough short-term success.

Derek Jeter and Michael Hill knew this reclamation project they created wouldn’t be fixed in a day or season, but I think it might resolve itself quicker than the front office or the national media may have thought. I’ll call this a hunch right now because I see progress. With progress comes excitement. With excitement comes hope.

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I’m not sure that hope is a dangerous thing right now especially for fans who have wanted a playoff contender since 2003 and a winning ball club since 2009. For those who have stuck around and continue to wear their team’s colors with pride, I salute you. Whether it is a passionate plea from Glenn Geffner to get more fans out to the ballpark, or manager Don Mattingly telling us in the media that he sees continued progress on the field and in the pitching rotation, these Marlins could be a surprise in the second half of 2019.

The idea of them winning 70 to 75 games as I predicted may be out the window, but I’ll take progress any day of the week over a set win total.

This is a ball club that must score runs, something that has been hard to come by. There is still no feared bat in the middle of their order. Garrett Cooper has shown flashes of being as that guy. Brian Anderson has had more pop in his swing of late. Jorge Alfaro has proven to be someone who can hit the long ball. In reality, we may not see a feared power hitter in this lineup until minor-league prospects are brought up to the Show.

The front office knew that the Marlins needed heavy hitters, and addressed it in this year’s MLB draft. Those players, however, are a few years away from calling Miami their home. Unless the organization decides that they want to trade key prospects for power hitters, this is a trend that might continue.

Marlins have more than just five solid young pitchers in their rotation. Through injury to 60 percent of the starting five from Opening Day, the team found out that their second wave of arms could be just as good if not better than the ones that they projected as future stars. It might have been the best thing to happen to this ball club so far this season.

Now decisions must be made.

Will Caleb Smith be traded, as he has been mentioned in stories on FanSided with the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves? What will the team do with Zac Gallen? Jose Urena figured to be a player on the move until he hurt his back. That creates a bit of change in the team’s philosophy of making deals at the trade deadline.

The organization must decide as well what to do with Starlin Castro, Neil Walker, Curtis Granderson, and Martin Prado. None of the four veterans figure to be on the 2020 roster. Closer Sergio Romo is also a name that has been mentioned in trade rumors. I wonder if the Marlins would consider trading one of their original five starters for everyday help. If it isn’t Smith, then who becomes the target of contenders’ eyes?

The Marlins and 29 other teams get a break in the action for the All-Star festivities. This doesn’t mean this team will be dormant over the next few days. Jeter and his staff are working diligently to determine what moves will be made over the course of the next six weeks. What is decided will likely impact his team over the course of the next few seasons.

Jeter and Hill have been very careful in moving chess pieces of late. Hopefully, that means puzzle pieces they hope to acquire will have an immediate impact. If not, questions about the direction of the Marlins begin again.

Enough progress has been made over the course of the last four months that we all can see a difference in the shape of this ball club. The Marlins are becoming a fun baseball team to watch. I only hope, as a fan and a writer, they continue this trend and not take another step backward.