CEO Derek Jeter did everything he could to make the Marlins a better baseball team for the 2020 MLB season.
Finally the light at the end of the hollow tunnel the Marlins have traveled through appears to be brighter than it has been in several seasons.
2017 was the last time there was hope within the organization. But because of individual success, the Marlins did not fare as well as they should have under the old ownership group led by Jeffrey Loria.
The moment Jeter took over the day-to-day operations of the franchise, that changed. While he has been criticized, ostracized and doubted over the course of the last 24 months, the Marlins walk into spring training in Jupiter, Florida with a chance to surprise everybody and make a statement about their future.
These Marlins are taking two steps forward and praying to the baseball gods that the steps they take backward will be minimal. And should that happen, Jeter’s “blueprint” could be the standard by which other MLB teams use to build their franchises in years to come.
This is why the time is now for baseball in Miami.
"“In many ways, the third year of the build is being viewed as a turning-point season, as the franchise aims to push the wins total closer to 81,” Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes."
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Honestly, if the marlins got even close to 81 winds, there would be cause for celebration and a parade in downtown Miami.
Looking at everything this organization has done in the last two months, the onus is on manager Don Mattingly to push all the right buttons and get players to produce at the plate and on the mound. There was plenty of criticism from local and national media when the former Yankees great was given a two-year extension as skipper of the team. But given the changes made the past two seasons, and the additions the front office has worked to acquire, it makes sense.
It also means that if Mattingly and his team are slow out of the gate, a change should be made. There’s just as much pressure on him as there is on Jeter to turn the page towards more success.
"“Jeter, the Marlins’ chief executive officer, frequently talks about being patient, and upper management has been just that as the Minor League system has improved. But frankly, at the big league level, the results haven’t been good enough,” Frisaro adds."
The National League East will be improved from top to bottom in 2020. The Washington Nationals are still considered the favorite to once again compete for a World Series title. The Atlanta Braves are not far behind. The Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets both made improvements to their roster to become more competitive. And yes, Miami is right there in the middle, hoping to stir the pot and change the course of the division. It makes for an exciting season with plenty of promise.
But if the Marlins aren’t able to deliver on that promise, then everything Jeter and this blueprint are supposed to do will be for not.
Jeter and his staff are confident the changes made this year will take Miami a step further toward a competitive season. This is an organization that will not be the worst team in the National League in 2020. It’s not going to be the best either. But progress is something Marlins fans should expect and something Jeter hopes he can deliver beginning and it starts at the end of March.