Just like a toddler learning to walk, the Miami Marlins and CEO Derek Jeter are having to learn how to become a winning baseball organization.
The Miami Marlins are a baseball franchise that is still going through growing pains. No one within the organization may be feeling it more than team CEO and co-owner Derek Jeter. In year three of his plan to revitalize a struggling organization, Jeter is still dealing with the business side of Major League Baseball.
Marlins won 57 games last year, which was seven less then it did in 2018. It wasn’t for a lack of effort as the team did show progress from here once a year two of the blueprint Jeter outlined long before he and Bruce Sherman purchased the team from Jeffrey Loria at the end of the 2017 season.
"“The bottom line is, when you’re competing, you’re competing to win,” Jeter said during a Hall of Fame press conference on Wednesday. “We’ve taken on quite a challenge down there in Miami, but we look at it as being a huge opportunity. We believe in the fan base in Miami. We believe in the organization that were building. We understand it’s going to take some time. I preach patience even though I have none.”"
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At least Jeter sees his own issues with building a winner, something he was part of with the Yankees throughout his career. Now, he moves on with the next phase of his baseball future, which is not as bright as the big lights of Gotham. But there is a belief it is getting better.
While some progress is evident, morning would be even better this year given the team has spent money in free agency and has more than enough minor-league prospects to help make this team a contender in the next couple of seasons.
Fans may not see the progress being made on a daily basis because the inner workings of the Marlins organization is a 365-day proposition. But as national analysts have written, and we have touched on it here through Marlin Maniac, it is happening.
Jeter was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this week based on his longevity and his success on the diamond. His hard work while playing the game and his attention to detail while working within the organization here in Miami, are traits that hopefully will wear off on the players he employees. When he purchased the team the Marlins had a lineup full of individual performers, but realistically there wasn’t a lot of continuity.
Building from the foundation up, there is a different kind of culture in South Florida that is beginning to grow a more solid rate. Hopefully, that means Miami will be a playoff contender in 2021 or 2022.
If not, the natives will become even more restless, wondering whether the rockstar with the award-winning smile and glowing personality is in over his head. While other franchises like the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, and Houston Astros have all built their organizations from the ground up, they begin winning in shorter time frames.
The Marlins haven’t made the playoffs since 2003 and haven’t enjoyed a winning season since 2009. That’s way too long for starved fans were only coming to the ballpark at 10,000 heads per game.
"“It also takes time for the fan base to develop that trust for us,’’ Jeter said. “I can’t go down there and tell everyone to trust me. They don’t know me. It takes a little time for that. The only thing I said is I’m not gonna make any promises I can’t keep. And every promise we made, we’ve kept so far.”"
The Marlins have a young pitching staff that should be better in 2020. The rotation could sport two 15-game winners in Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith. The lineup is better because the front office opened the checkbook and did what it needed to do to bring in mid-level players who can make a difference.
The difference should pay off with more wins this coming season. Jeter will still need to learn how to be calm and let the franchise grow into what he wants it to be, not to push the door open too quickly or everything will come undone.
"“I want to win as much as anyone,’’ Jeter said. “I didn’t get into this to lose. I could have stayed home and retired. … I got into this because I always wanted to give back to the game at the highest level and I wanted to build something we could be proud of and everybody in Miami can be proud of.”"