Honestly, I find myself really excited for the Marlins’ 2018 campaign. They aren’t going to win the World Series, the NL East, or compete for a Wild Card spot. I know that. The players and the front office know that. We all know that there is a strong chance they might actually be the worst team in baseball in regards to wins and losses. If you watched Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies then you can definitely see how that might pan out.
This winter, the Marlins traded more WAR from the preceding season than any other team ever has, excluding the 1899 Louisville Colonels. They traded an MVP and other successful, fan-favorite players for a shot at creating a sustainable culture of success in Miami. There are 100,000 different opinions on this issue, and I don’t want to dig all of those up here. That’s not what this article is for! They are who they are at this point in 2018. A team in the process of a (cue crash of thunder and lightning) rebuild, a word that sets off specific parts of the fan base on its own.
I think that we can all, in our own way, find a little solace in that. I know that this isn’t isolated to our fan base either. Jason Benetti, a broadcaster for the Chicago White Sox and ESPN, said on a recent episode of Effectively Wild that he feels that there has been more excitement and energy around this year’s team than any other in the last decade or so. They’re building and that means that there is some positive motion. Some growth. We get to watch young, excited players fight and claw for every game. We aren’t going to be stuck in mediocrity, and hopefully you, dear reader, can judge for yourself what will make this season a true success. Will it be a certain number of wins, watching the batting and pitching stats for some sabermetric joy, the team turning a profit (Hey, Derek! Thanks for reading!), pulling in and developing quality prospects, a combination of every aforementioned point, or something else entirely?
I have a very simple, conservative wish list.
First off, win more than 43 games. Calm down, sir/ma’am, please calm down! I absolutely think they’ll win more games than that. Again, I’m talking the absolute minimum, worst case scenario here. I remember that poor, unfortunate 2003 Detroit Tigers squad, “the worst team of all time without a good excuse.” I know they are in a very different situation from them, but just watch some videos of that team and try not to cringe in fear and horror. Specifically, I remember watching the camera pan across the Tiger’s dugout and fixating on Alan Trammell’s face. That kind of ignominy is not something I want to see Don Mattingly attempt to deal with. Let’s try and steer clear of that as much as humanly possible. One note though, that Tigers team did make the 2006 World Series with 10 players from the infamous ‘03 roster... Would you trade a 43 win season for a trip to the Fall Classic three years later?
I’d like a continued focus on the fan experience. I think there has been a marked improvement in a range of things, from asking for fan’s opinions to general social media marketing (see below Tweet). The Marlins’ Dímelo campaign has been an excellent example of at least trying to show that they care about how we feel about the Fish. Also, I think the addition of Chip Bowers (previously with the Golden State Warriors and Orlando Magic) will do wonders for the marketing and corporate partnership side of the organization. More pickups like Chip will help the team make big strides in the front office and in the eyes of the community.
Next, a continuation of developing a respectable farm system with significant depth. They are obviously trending in the right direction, and I trust that Denbo and Co. will do continue to do well here. Our primary prospects are either major league ready or not far behind. Lewis Brinson and Brian Anderson could both potentially make a strong case for Rookie of the Year, and we probably don’t have long until Sandy Alcantara, Jorge Guzman, Monte Harrison and others all join forces at Marlins Park. Keep in mind, the last time the Marlins’ farm system wasn’t in the bottom 10 was back in 2013. The Fish ranked fifth in all of baseball and featured players like Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto. Let’s keep up the good work in this department.
Other than that, I have a few minor, random requests. Justin Bour hitting 30 home runs. Starlin Castro ending up with another All-Star spot, and then potentially yielding more high-level prospects in a team-friendly trade. More activity in international signings when the time comes. Keeping the roof open at home! Baseball obviously looks 1,000 times better in natural light both on television and in person. Two words: Publix Park. Lastly, I want Lewis Brinson to rob just one home run from Giancarlo Stanton in the four games they play the Yankees.
That is all. I’m here for the struggle. I’m here to #Re2pectTheProcess. I’m here to watch these guys enjoy the game and build a real, sustainable foundation for years to come. Doesn’t that sound nice? Whip us up a FanPost and let us hear your thoughts!