Recently, Sports Illustrated put to pen and ink (or keyboard and screen, as it were) their list of the 10 most hopeless Major League Baseball franchises.
The Miami Marlins ranked third in the MLB, ahead of the also obviously rebuilding Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers. When listing out the reasons why the Marlins are hopeless, the author (credited simply as “SI Staff“) leaned heavily on the team’s history of fire sales.
The author highlights the Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton deals as particular examples of egregiousness. Jeter and company are accused in the piece of giving them away for “essentially nothing.” Here’s that passage:
"once again gestures broadly at the Marlins’ history and forcefully at the decision by Derek Jeter to trade Giancarlo Stanton for essentially nothing—the start of a teardown that has yet to bear any substantial major league fruit"
The article goes on to stress that even though the major league roster is light on major league level talent, that the minors are much improved with an “average farm system ranking” of sixth. The new ownership group is then accused, in advance, of breaking up the next future contending Miami Marlins team once they get “slightly too expensive.”
Miami Marlins are Bad, but There’s Hope
First of all, This list is comprised of the teams with the 19th, 20th, 22nd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, and 30th best major league records. This shows hardly any imagination utilized in team selection, and is slanted very heavily toward the respective franchises’ present MLB record. Anyone could have written that article, with no prior knowledge of anything and nothing but a page opened to the current MLB standings. With only the barest mention of an improved farm system, it’s no wonder the author deigned to include their name.
Attributing the Marlins current outlook on past ownership mistakes also spotlights the author’s unfamiliarity with this Miami ownership group. Although it’s true that the current front office unloaded most of the Marlins high-dollar pieces, to say they got “essentially nothing” in return is simply disingenuous.
Everyone knows (well, mostly everyone, obviously) that when trading established major leaguers for prospects, the jury remains out for at least two to up to as many as five calendar years. Yelich fetched the Miami Marlins Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Jordan Yamamoto, and Isan Diaz. These are four players that could positively impact the club in the future. Yamamoto has shown flashes of brilliance, and Diaz looks like the real deal. That’s not to say their future output will equal that of Yelich’s, but if even two of them pan out into everyday major leaguers it could take some of the sting out of the deal.
The Stanton deal, meanwhile, fetched the Marlins an everyday second baseman in Starlin Castro, as well as highly ranked pitcher Jorge Guzman and still-just-19 middle infielder Jose Devers. Although it’s true that Castro is on his way out with an expiring contract, he has, to this point, nearly matched Stanton on balance. The two players had 2018 WAR ratings of 3.3 (Castro) and 4.0 (Stanton). This season, Stanton has been limited to only nine games due to the injury bug, while Castro leads the Miami Marlins by appearing in all of their 125 games thus far.
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And to suggest that the new group is destined to trade away J.J. Bleday is to paint Loria’s face over Sherman’s and sing, “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” It is not, as suggested, SSDD at Marlins Park.
I know it’s never been easier to hang your head and/or bail on the Miami Marlins. The major league team is 45-80, riding a five game losing streak (unfortunately, the sixth of five or more games this season), and have won only four of their last 21 games. However, there IS a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. Look for this club to compete for a playoff spot as soon as 2021, and also look for them to compete night-after-night in perpetuity in the meantime. If you squint, you can see the bones of a solid major league ball club, right here in Marlins Park.
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