Are the Marlins really a work in progress?

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Miguel Rojas #19 of the Miami Marlins looks on while at bat the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Marlins Park on September 12, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Miguel Rojas #19 of the Miami Marlins looks on while at bat the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Marlins Park on September 12, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Is this version of the Miami Marlins still a baseball team on the rise, or are they a franchise still trying to figure it out?

Miami Marlins reporter Wells Dusenbury makes it crystal clear how the Miami Marlins have fared this season on Twitter.

"“At 51-95, #Marlins need to win four of their last 16 to avoid matching the worst record in franchise history,” he writes. “1998 Marlins finished 54-108.”"

How could we have seen this happen at the beginning of the season? Fans hoped for a better result. Media who follow the team believed there would be improvements from a 64-98 team in 2018. The pitching staff was one of the best stories of the first half of this season.

After a 10-31 start to 2019 and analysts looking for a crash cart since the team was coding on a gurney, the team is 41-54, which is still below what the front office wants to see, but there has been some progress – just not enough. And as the season comes to an end in a couple of weeks, the thought of a change in the rebuilding process must be addressed.

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It’s not easy being a Marlins fan. R.J. Anderson points that out in his most recent piece for CBS Sports. The ebb and flow of this organization make many of us want to pull our hair out (in my case what little is left). We have seen stars walk into South Florida, tease us with potential greatness and leave, either via trade or because they want to play elsewhere in free agency.

"“The Marlins are going to miss out on their 16th consecutive October, the second-longest postseason drought in the majors, behind only the Seattle Mariners,” Anderson writes. “In recent years, the Fish have traded away multiple MVP winners, and have suffered through two of the worst seasons in franchise history — and that’s saying something, given the club has enjoyed six winning efforts in its 27 years of existence.”"

The results of Derek Jeter’s blueprint yielded a nice bounty of prospects developing into potential stars – but time is still a factor in their progress. The only trade that looks to be a losing proposition for the front office so far is the Christian Yelich deal – but it’s not complete yet because three of the four prospects Miami received in the trade are on the current roster with mixed reviews. We shall know more next season.

Players like Brian Anderson are homegrown talents who are going to be stars. We are hopeful Garrett Cooper, another trade piece from 2017, turns into a 30-home run hitter and the front office bites the bullet and signs a free agent power hitter to a big deal.

The Marlins will once again be judged on what they do this offseason. What will Jeter and president of baseball operation Michael Hill decide on? Who is on the trading block again? Can the team afford to let some of its riches in the minor league system, with pitching still a loaded commodity, talk a walk?

We know how this team as planned for the future in the past. Anderson believes we can see into the future.

"“Yet the 2019 season has revealed the path the Marlins might take to get back to respectability. While it’s always dangerous to oversimplify these kinds of things, Miami’s formula goes a little like this: leverage young arms and gamble on risky bats. To contextualize this, let’s take a look at some of the moves the Marlins made over the summer,” he adds."

Lewin Diaz, Jazz Chisholm, and Jesus Sanchez are three everyday players who could start on this team in two seasons. The MLB Draft was a booming success with J.J. Bleday, Kam Misner and Peyton Burdick. There are some free agents the team could consider to come in and provide some pop in the middle of the lineup.

Who leaves will also show the team’s desire to win next season instead of allowing Miami to sift through another 100-loss season? Caleb Smith will get some attention. So will minor leaguers like Edward Cabrera and Jose Urena.

The Marlins could once again look different in 2020, They should. This team is not built yet. Baseball never is. The continuation of development must be better than this season. Maybe altering the plan a bit is needed for us to see true progress on the Major League level. Until it’s done, fans and media alike will see this franchise as a bottom feeder.

No matter how many prospects look good and potential is thrown around like it’s the best thing in the world, seeing is better than believing.

The Marlins front office must make us believe the organization is still changing for the better. Right now, the record from this season has many of us in doubt if it’s a reality.