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The Marlins Rebuild: What they got right

And what other South Florida teams considering a rebuild should learn from the Marlins.

Derek Jeter 2/13/2018 David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images

Regardless of the setting—whether you’re at the local barber shop, sports bar, or the comments section under a Fish Stripes article—the conversation about the Marlins rebuild typically takes the same form. The detractors recycle buzzwords like “two MVPs,” “did not get enough,” “Jeter doesn’t know what he is doing,” and so on. Understandably, they have doubts about players currently in the organization being any better than the previous, unsuccessful core.

But these people are missing the forest for the trees.

When asked why I personally believe the Miami rebuild will be successful in the long term, my key figures are not Brinson, Harrison, Alcántara or other individual prospects; they are Gary Denbo, Chip Bowers, Dan Greenlee, Adrian Lorenzo and Fernando Seguignol.

The front office under Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter has been transformed from among the worst in Major League Baseball, to what some already consider an elite staff. The departments who will scout the players, choose the players, and ultimately construct the future of this organization are now oozing with talent and experience.

Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
  • Gary Denbo (Vice President of Player Development and Scouting)
  • Dan Greenlee (Director of Player Personnel)
  • Chip Bowers (President of Business Operations)
  • Adrian Lorenzo (Special Assistant in Baseball Scouting and Operations)
  • Stan Meek (Vice President of Scouting)
  • D.J. Svihlik (Director of Amateur Scouting)
  • Dick Scott (Director of Player Development)
  • Fernando Seguignol (Director of International Operations)
  • Jalal Leach (Scouting Coordinator)
  • Myles Lewis (Senior Analyst)
  • Nate Adcock (Scout)
  • Dana Duquette (Scout)
  • Scott Fairbanks (Scout)
  • Joe Caro (Special Assignment)

If the Marlins rebuild works, it will be because of the group above. We can’t “quantify” their performance the same way we do with players, but testimonies from former colleagues and their involvement with other prestigious franchises put them in high demand across the industry. Jeter has shown himself to be an elite headhunter.

He poached Denbo, Greenlee, Svihlik, and Caro from the Yankees, Lorenzo from the Red Sox, Bowers from the Golden State Warriors, Leach from the Giants, and so on. Fans of those teams weren’t thrilled about losing them:

It’s no secret that the Marlins slashed MLB payroll heading into the 2018 season. However, at least some of those resources were reallocated in ways that improve the long-term product, like the signing of Cuban free agent Víctor Víctor Mesa, enhancements to Marlins Park, and these big-name hirings.

Let’s learn a bit more about them...

Gary Denbo Vice President of Player Development and Scouting

In Denbo, Jeter was able to bring over one of the top architects of the New York Yankees success. From 1990 to 2001, Denbo was in the Yankees’ system in varying positions across the organization. After a brief departure from New York, Denbo returned in 2009, where he began to craft his specialty in player development. There is a publicized story of Denbo altering Jeter’s approach and swing during this time; a change that Jeter has previously stated extended his career success.

Starting in 2014, Denbo was named Vice President of the Yankees player development, and is believed to be significantly influential in building and developing the empire’s farm system that has led to the Yankees being amongst the deepest farms in baseball.

The man who trained and coached some of the famous Yankee Core of the 2000’s, and then later helped build and develop the impressive Yankees’ farm system, has now brought all of his specialties to Little Havana.

Dan Greenlee Director of Player Personnel

Greenlee, another Yankee taken from New York, not only brought his previous success to Little Havana, but also his highly respected analytics department style. For years, Marlins fans and analytic savvy peers ridiculed Miami for their lack of new age scouting and measures; this is now in the past, thanks to the addition of Greenlee.

“The analytics department now has become one of the most valuable departments in the Marlins’ organization” -Gary Denbo

The reason: Greenlee.

”I think we’ve done a lot of catchup in the past couple of months,” Greenlee said. “I think we’ve sprinted ahead in some areas…teams are not going to have more information than we have.”

Derek Jeter 2/13/2018 David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images

Chip Bowers President of Business Operations

Bowers seems to like engaging in projects, growth, and success. During his tenure with the Golden State Warriors, he built a business strategy that led to naming rights, sponsorships, and a team that went from one of the least popular teams in professional basketball, to a powerhouse. For those that say that this feat is easy when the on-field product is enticing, please be aware that Bowers’ influence was being felt multiple years prior to the dominance of the Warriors.

Much like how Denbo was an architect in creating the success of the Bronx Bombers, Bowers served the same role with the Warriors. In Miami, he has not wasted any time. The stadium renovations, Dímelo campaign, rebranding of the logo and uniforms, as well as the revamped public relations and immense improvement in business partnerships, are all Bowers-driven.

The next significant milestones for Bowers over the next couple years?

  1. New, lucrative local television deal
  2. Naming rights partner for Marlins Park

Adrian Lorenzo Special Assistant in Scouting and Baseball Operations

For Yankees fans that are upset about Jeter taking top front office talent from New York, make no mistake: he also took talent from that friendly rival down the street in red. Lorenzo was considered a “growing star” in the Red Sox system, and Miami is hoping his star continues shining as he returns to his home in Miami.

Stan Meek Vice President of Scouting

Stan Meek had been with the Marlins as Director of Amateur Scouting since 2002, but was terminated by Loria in 2017. Jeter made an interesting decision to bring back Meek as a Vice President of Scouting (arguably more of a figurehead position), while taking DJ Svihlik from the Yankees (of course) and giving him the Director of Amateur Scouting position previously held by Meek.

Meek’s presence in the organization is a positive presence, but Svihlik’s addition is the headline here.

D.J. Svihlik Director of Amateur Scouting

Dennis J. Svihlik has spent his entire life in baseball, both as a player and as a scout. Surprise: Svihlik spent almost the entirety of his scouting career with the New York Yankees. Although not as significant an architect to the Yankee powerhouse as Denbo and Greenlee, you can think of Svihlik as the long-tenured construction manager that made the life of the architects much easier.

In Denbo, Greenlee, and Svihlik, one can see how Jeter is attempting to replicate the success found by the Yankees organization. Jeter could not take the owner or the General Manager, so instead he took every other meaningful cog in the system that he could.

Dick Scott Director of Player Development

Jeter changed things a bit here, by poaching a New York Met. If you are looking for who—aside from Denbo—will have the most influence at the minor league level, look no further than Dick Scott. Scott is the Director of Player Development and will have his fingerprints all across the minor league levels. From structure of playing time, to training protocol, to specific goals assigned for each level of the system, Scott will be the man in charge.

Miami Marlins News Conference Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Fernando Seguignol Director of International Operations

Many fans agree that the best baseball-related move made thus far is the signing of Víctor Víctor Mesa and his younger brother, Víctor Mesa Jr. Feel free to thank—at least in part—the new Director of International Operations, Seguignol. Upon taking over the international market for Miami, Seguignol was clear in stating that Miami needed to become more active.

By securing the unanimous No. 1 overall free agent in the 2018-19 international amateur class, it is safe to say that he’s off to a great start.