With the Marlins offseason now in full effect, we must take a step back and analyze the past year both on and off the field.
The end result of the season was not what any of us hoped, as the Marlins finished under .500 for the ninth season in a row. However, there were plenty of positives to take from it. Two examples of that being the emergence of Brian Anderson as an everyday player and the rise of Pablo López through the minors.
But what about the front office? How did Derek Jeter and company perform this calendar year?
In February, they brought in former Golden State Warriors executive Chip Bowers, a big addition to the organization that certainly has paid its dividends already. You can see his impact simply by looking around the ballpark.
Bowers immediately brought in Ocean Bank as a partner to the Marlins. That was just one of dozens of deals aimed at increasing revenue streams that had been neglected by prior ownership.
Bowers and his business operations team have also made it a focal point to change the atmosphere of Marlins Park, changes which are set to debut in 2019.
Ended our final home game for 2018 with a win. Muchas gracias por su dedicación, Miami.— Chip Bowers (@chipbowers) September 23, 2018
Next up: ballpark enhancements
Known largely for the work he has done previously, Bowers has what it takes to turn around a Marlins franchise that was sold with hundred of millions of dollars in debt. While there is still a long way to go, he is owning up to the large responsibility.
Gary Denbo is arguably the most important piece to the Marlins in their rebuild. Like Bowers, the new VP of player development and scouting has a long record in professional sports. Before being recruited to Miami by Jeter, Denbo presided in the Yankee organization as a player development consultant since 2009. Since then, their farm system has been among the best in terms of depth and producing homegrown stars at the major league level.
After just one year in Miami, Denbo and the rest of the player development staff have elevated one of MLB’s poorest farm systems into the middle of the pack.
"It's our intention to develop championship-caliber players and championship-caliber people."— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) October 15, 2018
ICYMI, @CincoRazonesPod spoke with Gary Denbo about the Marlins new-look player development operations https://t.co/f3Bctc0JSs
A large factor in that improvement was the Marlins draft class last summer. They managed to sign four players who were projected to go in the first round, beginning with outfielder Connor Scott at No. 13 overall. Each of them already rank among the organization’s top 20 prospects.
Pulling that off is evidence of a front office that was well prepared and persuasive (three of the four top picks had commitments to play college ball).
More recently, the Marlins signed top international free agent Víctor Víctor Mesa, who immediately became the organizations top prospect, as well as his brother, Víctor Mesa Jr. These signings only further elevated the system up the rankings.
President of baseball operations Mike Hill was scrutinized heavily during the Loria era, and even more because Jeter stuck with him once he came in. Hill is one of the few remaining holdovers from the old regime.
With the opportunity to prove himself, Hill has done his job this year by getting Marlins valuable returns in trades, including international bonus pool money that was used to secure the Mesa brothers.
Lastly, we have the face of it all: The Captain.
Since Day 1, Jeter has taken the public’s abuse for sending away stars and lowering payroll, forcing the Marlins to take a step back at the major league level (from 77 wins in 2017 down to 63 wins). But one thing that we cannot deny is that he has been working hard. Traveling to the Dominican Republic to check on the facilities there, working with the Miami community and fans to improve the relationship between owner and fan, etc.
Jeter has also pushed the language barrier, making players and staff learn Spanish and English, respectively. As a critical figure on many successful teams during his playing career, he’s applying what he learned to the Marlins organization.
Whether or not this ownership brings a winner to Miami remains to be seen, but one thing that cannot be denied is that they are moving in the right direction and mending open wounds from the past. After Year 1, they are well on their way.