In light of this off-season for the Marlins, and particularly after yesterday’s trade of Christian Yelich, one question came to my mind: Should I Trust the Process?
Living in Philadelphia, I know the story well. I have gotten numb to recent version of rebuilds, tanking, tear-downs, etc. So how do my experiences translate to what Marlins fans should “look forward to” these coming years?
Look at the recent Phillies experience as an example.
Flaming out after their successful run of five straight National League East titles from 2007-2011, the Phillies held onto veterans such as Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. They aged, lost their trade value, and became more notable more for their bloated contracts and their sentimental value than their production on the field.
Instead of ripping apart the team Sam Hinkie-style, the Phillies let go of their older players piece-meal via expiring contracts, or trades such as with Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon. The end-result was some VERY depressing baseball which at times was nearly unwatchable. It must have been somewhat similar to watching the Yankees in the mid-late 1960s.
When they finally committed to rebuilding, the Phillies signed several veterans with the hope to flip said vets at the trade deadline for more prospects. These signings achieved varying degrees of success.
Some specific examples included Clay Buchholz, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Francoeur, Grady Sizemore, Michael Saunders, Michael Young, Howie Kendrick and Marlon Byrd.
Hellickson and Kendrick had successful if brief tenures with the team before being traded for marginal prospects. The rest of the list? Best left unsaid, other than when looking back on their careers people will say, “Oh, I didn’t know he was ever on the Phillies.”
Through this process, the Phillies were mostly exciting to baseball nerds such as myself, who enjoyed following their minor league teams and the progression of their top prospects. There were disappointing duds that made the big-league club, most notably touted outfield prospect Dominic Brown and relief pitcher Phillipe Aumont, but also exciting surprises such as Rhys Hoskins and soon-to-be major league second baseman Scott Kingery.
Given the Phillies protracted decision to rebuild, I would prefer the Marlins’ model. Rip off the Band-Aid and get it over with! It’s not like people have been flocking to Marlins Park the last several years, and despite the rather dismal outlook for this year’s club, I find it preferable to watch the kids play and see what happens.
On the downside, it will likely be quite dull during the rebuild to watch veteran plug-and-play journeymen flailing to hold onto their waning time in the majors. Frustration will be inevitable as some of the promising prospects invariably flop. The expectations for an unknown minor leaguer is always more exciting and intriguing than the known big leaguer with ordinary stats and a low ceiling.
But, hang in there Fish followers! And as Joel Embiid would say, Trust the Process!