What if Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter suffered for two seasons in MLB to come out the other end proving he knew what he was doing all along?
I think I owe Marlins CEO Derek Jeter an apology. I may have been too critical of his decision making at times last season, which has more to do with the fact I am a baseball fan first and a writer second.
It might be the first instance I ever tell someone, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
in my quest for baseball perfection, I forget a few things regarding “The Captain” and his purchase of the lowly Marlins and how the team was decimated by trades that made this franchise vulnerable to the point a high school team could have won a series or two during the 2018 MLB season.
For that, I am sorry.
Now, with a host of young and talented players, who knows where this team will land once the MLB season actually starts. If anything, the first sights this Spring have led me and others to think that maybe the Marlins won’t be as bad as everyone thinks. There is a glimmer of light at the long 163-game tunnel. You can see it, but you aren’t sure what happens when you come out on the other side.
Jeter is betting on baseball success. Not a game or two better, but a change that makes the other 29 teams in league take notice for the future. The New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers weren’t built in a day.
Neither was the Miami Marlins.
Ten months ago, FanSided.com’s Editor in Chief Jason Cole wrote a piece about the Marlins, “One question for Derek Jeter: Who are you kidding?” It was spot on, asking if Jeter the businessman knew what he was doing in running a baseball team. At the time, the Marlins had won just 10 games and were sinking faster than a child’s feet in wet sand on the beach.
"“Jeter is the CEO and owns a four percent stake in the team. Despite that impressive title and share of the team, Jeter didn’t just kill the Marlins, he eviscerated this team,” Cole wrote. “The Marlins not only have no present, their future looks awful as well. Jeter not only sent away four excellent-to-great players, he got almost nothing back for them.”"
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I felt the same way and have talked about it many times here on Marlin Maniac and with friends who love the game for its purity. Now, those feelings I had have changed. Baseball means something in Miami once again. You can thank Jeter and the rockstar smile for helping to make that happen once again.
The Marlins are a mix of developing talent, veteran balance and youthful unknown that makes you wonder, “What if this team does what others think it can’t?” What if Monte Harrison becomes a poor man’s, Mike Trout? What if Sandy Alcantara can pitch like Pedro Martinez? What if Brian Anderson turns into the latest version of Larry Walker?
It could happen? Of course, there are plenty of questions to be answered even before the start of the 2020 MLB season – whenever that should happen. But there was enough of a sample size to wash away some of the things Cole and myself and others have thought within the last 12 months.
This small-money team has made the right moves on the checkerboard the past year. It has used the MLB Draft to its advantage. It has fleeced other teams of solid pitching prospects and has signed the right mid-level free agents to keep the team relevant.
And when you look at Anderson and a few others who were not part of the overhaul of the organization, there are some good, young players who survived the wrath if Jeffrey Loria’s illusion of what a baseball team was supposed to look like.
I’m not going to predict the Marlins make the playoffs this coming season, but I do think 75 wins is possible. I also think the national media that have bet against this organization hasn’t paid enough attention to what’s going on. Times, they are changing in Miami. The Marlins might surprise us all.
And when they do, Jeter – for all his decision making that we bashed in a short period of time, will look genius and become the standard for success in baseball. It’s hard to think it could happen. But if change from 10 wins in 37 games in 2019 turned into a 75-win team in 2020, then you would have to say Jeter got it right.
And finally, Marlins fans would have something to cheer about.