That series sweep we’ve been waiting for? Keep waiting.
Positives? Jeff Brigham is gradually improving. The rookie right-hander was charged with two earned runs when Scooter Gennett lifted a high fly ball just out of the reach of Austin Dean in left-center field. But Brigham was more efficient than usual (86 pitches in five innings) and probably would’ve went out for the sixth under different circumstances.
Also, hometown slugger Peter O’Brien stays hot, slashing .333/.417/.733 since his call-up. Regardless of what happens over the final week-and-a-half, he’ll probably report to spring training in 2019 as the favorite for the everyday first base job.
Derek Jeter speaks
“You wanna improve...Ultimately, like I said, that’s how an organization is judged: on wins and losses. We sort of look at the big picture, things we needed to fix when we got here. But yeah...no one should be happy with the number of wins that we have.” pic.twitter.com/5YSRum3e9x— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) September 20, 2018
The club’s CEO and future Hall of Famer is famously skilled at addressing the media without revealing much. Here are a few of the responses that actually had some substance:
- A lukewarm endorsement of Don Mattingly’s future as manager: “He’s under contract, right?” (h/t Andre Fernandez, The Athletic)
- Insistent that “J.T. [Realmuto] and his representatives are very aware of how we feel about him as a player” (h/t Joe Frisaro, MLB.com). But is the interest mutual? Doesn’t sound like there’s been significant progress toward a contract extension.
- The Marlins plan to construct a new baseball academy in the Dominican Republic (“a big area of growth for us”).
New “Swings and Mishes” episode
The Marlins acquired Eveld in exchange for Brad Ziegler prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He immediately thrived with Double-A Jacksonville (9.2 IP, 0.93 ERA, 14 K). At age 24, he’s now preparing for a critical step in his career: the Arizona Fall League.
“The biggest thing I’m excited for is the level of competition,” Eveld says.
Mish also reports on a shake-up within the Marlins front office:
Michael Youngberg, who was Marlins assistant director of amateur scouting, has left the organization, according to @CraigMish (mentioned on new @SwingsAndMishes episode). His name has also been removed from the team website.— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) September 20, 2018
He had joined the club under previous ownership.
Fish Stripes conducted an interview with Eveld recently, too. It’ll be published sometime before the AFL season gets underway.
Another addition to AFL roster
A footnote in Joe Frisaro’s Jeter summary, right-hander Kyle Keller is joining Eveld in the desert next month. That’s seven Marlins farmhands in total who will be participating.
Working exclusively out of the bullpen, the 25-year-old Keller posted a 3.08 earned run average this season with a dazzling 36.4 percent strikeout rate. He held opponents scoreless in 17 of his final 20 appearances, bolting all the way up to Triple-A New Orleans by the end of the summer.
The former 18th-round draft pick has consistently missed bats at every level of competition. It would be a big victory for Marlins player development if he were to become a legitimate major league contributor down the road.
Keeping his secrets close to the vest
Already known to be a great all-around player, Christian Yelich has made the leap to superstardom in his first season with the Brewers. Slashing .319/.385/.569 and ranking among the league leaders with a 154 wRC+ and 6.1 fWAR, Yelich could win the NL MVP award.
Robert Murray of The Athletic had to rely on testimonies from his manager and teammates, because Yelich continues to deflect all questions about his individual production.
“He’s so understated,” manager Craig Counsell said. “His humility through all of this is really cool to watch and for all of us to admire. Raised very well.”
Added Kratz: “Yelich is averse to it. He thinks he’s one of us. I’m like, ‘You’re not! You’re way better!’ It’s cool because he has the same thoughts as, you know, us normal players.”
Though it is several years premature to judge how well the Marlins did with the return they received in January, from the Brewers’ perspective, the trade is already a smashing success. Yelich’s breakout is about to secure them a postseason berth for first time since 2011.
Highlight of the season
Many thanks to Sam Miller for consulting me for the Marlins passage in his latest ESPN article, a team-by-team look at the best moments of the 2018 season.
Let me know if we got it right!
MORE: Marlins reps, including Chip Bowers, met in August with the Art Trust. Team told trust members that they want to move HR sculpture to the exterior of Marlins Park and promote art at the ballpark with tours.— Andy Slater (@AndySlater) September 20, 2018
Throughout the past year, there have been suspicions that Derek Jeter would take the necessary steps to get rid of the vibrant home run sculpture.
But Andy Slater reports that there are a few complications between the Marlins and city of Miami. For the moment, they still cannot move the massive art piece from its center-field spot.
Clarifying these tweets, Slater told me that the mayor’s office is not yet onboard with the suggestion of relocating to the exterior of the ballpark. “We will see if any of that changes.”
On a new episode of his podcast, Slater spent an hour speaking with “Marlins Man” Laurence Leavy. The former season ticket holder visited Marlins Park this past Monday for the first time in 2018, reportedly bringing more than 1,000 of his closest friends with him. Leavy reflects on how his relationship with the team and its player has evolved through the years.
Also, a hat tip to Slater for drawing our attention to the “Swing for Your Seats” Marlins membership event. With the players out of town next Saturday (Sept. 29), you can RSVP for the Open House.
It’s the latest effort by the team to entice fans to buy 2019 season ticket plans. The fun twist is that those who commit to a plan are invited on the field for an abbreviate home run derby; you get up to three pitches to hit a ball over the fence, and if you succeed, the Marlins will provide a credit covering up to $10,000 of your purchase.