After a 2018 season that saw the Miami Marlins win only 63 games to finish in the basement of the largely underwhelming NL East, many project the team to produce a similar performance in 2019. The Marlins are likely to have one of Major League Baseball’s lowest payrolls and, while the team does have some intriguing young talent, Miami parted ways with (by far) its best player when sending catcher J.T. Realmuto to the Philadelphia Phillies in early February.
In fact, the Marlins are projected as a clear bottom-tier team by most numerical systems and there isn’t much to cling on to when seeking present-day success on the field. That won’t stop Marlins CEO and Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter, however, as he told the Associated Press this week that he has “zero patience” through the prism of his rebuilding club.
“We need to see improvement,” Jeter said. “We need to see improvement from some of our younger guys that got an opportunity to play last year. That’s how you get better. We can sit and talk about minor-league systems all you want, but it gets to a point when you’re in Miami that you have to develop and improve year in and year out. That’s how you become a great team.”
In some ways, Jeter’s sentiment isn’t surprising in that most employees (or, in this case, owners) of professional sports franchises don’t want to see their team lose games even during re-tooling stretches. Still, Jeter’s comments come across as potentially misguided when realizing that the Marlins have parted ways with Realmuto, Giancarlo Stanton, and Christian Yelich in the recent past with returns that haven’t exactly inspired overflowing confidence.
In short, this is a long-term rebuild in Miami and, as Jeter has “a complicated history” with the team and its fan base, the Marlins don’t appear to be on a swift course to packing their ballpark and creating the revenue often associated with top-flight contention. It’s possible, or even likely, that Jeter understands his team won’t win in 2019 and this is simply his competitive streak taking over. If that isn’t the case, though, he’s probably in for a hasty wake-up call when the Marlins occupy the NL East cellar once again.