Success is an interestingly ambiguous concept. For some, being successful means living a fulfilled and content life. For others, it is more closely tied to achievement.
The same holds true in the baseball community. Organizations such as the Red Sox and Yankees are easy: World Series or bust. Then you have teams like the Braves and Phillies, now coming out of their rebuilding phases, eyeing deep playoff runs.
But what would be considered success for a team such as the Marlins in 2019?
They chose this course with the intent of building a winner—something the fanbase has not experienced since well before Marlins Park existed—as well as a sustainable core. Starting from scratch, that window for seriously competing is still a few years away from opening, whether team officials can publicly admit that or not.
In the meantime, what are the organizational goals for this upcoming season? How will we be able to tell that they are staying on a promising, long-term trajectory?
Pegged by virtually every analyst as the least-talented major league team in the National League East, the Marlins have a choice between competing and tanking.
Tanking signifies that the organization accepts not being a playoff competitor and frantically weakens its roster in an effort to yield a losing team and acquire better draft assets. Bad news for fans that hope this is the Marlins’ mentality: it is not.
The front office’s lack of MLB free agency spending—Sergio Romo received the largest guarantee at $2.5 million—is a huge detriment. However, once the games begin, every single player and coach is intent on winning. That’s the only way to approach business in a clubhouse with any semblance of individual pride.
The alternative to tanking is consistently competing. This is what the goal that Marlins executives, coaches, and players are echoing. While the J.T. Realmuto trade, current NL East juggernauts, and young unproven talent on the Marlins may make this goal difficult, it should not be considered lip service.
As for what kind of win-loss record represents a successful 2019...it is as simple as seeing improvement to the 2018 record, whether by three, five, or 10 games. I personally pick this team to surprise—similar to the 2008-2010 Marlins—and show promise, rather than lose 100+ games. Tanking works in basketball, but this isn’t always the case in baseball, and this article isn’t about what the Miami Heat should be doing.
Win-Loss Record Prediction: 71-91
The most important section for the 2019 Miami Marlins. The Fish could plummet in the standings, lose 110 games or more, but if 3B Brian Anderson, CF Lewis Brinson, C Jorge Alfaro and the starting staff solidify themselves as the future talents many expect them to be, the season would be deemed a victory. When an organizational plan is about building a winning team for the future, then individual ability is the most vital bracket to monitor.
For the first time in approximately a decade, the Marlins have both exciting prospects in their farm system and young, controllable talent already at Marlins Park. Their individual performances and development is unquestionably the most important variable in whether the 2019 campaign is successful.
Prediction: Anderson, Brinson and Alfaro combine for 8+ WAR this season
Front Office Decision-making
As Jose Ureña tosses the first pitch on Opening Day, the Marlins front office officially closes the book on the 2018-19 offseason.
From there, they turn their eyes towards incessantly improving the Marlins future. Accomplishing this goal for the 2019 campaign lies on two vastly important organizational markers: the Major League Baseball Draft and trade deadline.
For the Marlins front office to have a successful 2019, they must continue their organizational growth via the draft. The most important draft in recent Marlins history, these selections will go a long way in either solidifying the future, or creating a bigger hole. Miami owns three of the first 46 picks in this draft, and the No. 4 overall slot. They cannot mess this up!
As for the trade deadline, the Fish will not have the star power of previous years to trade away, but the likes of Neil Walker, Curtis Granderson, and other veterans may still yield interest to a competing club. Don’t scoff at the idea of deadline flips for prospects—note how the Brad Ziegler, David Phelps, Fernando Rodney, and Jarred Cosart trades each had lasting impact for the “selling” team.
The business side of baseball typically gets overlooked in these types of articles, but I genuinely believe that would be a significant disservice to the fans. No other MLB franchise—aside from those without a stable stadium situation—has as much work to do off the field as the Marlins do.
Not only is this the first year of their rebrand, the “ballpark enhancements” and heightened community involvement, but it may be the year where they secure Marlins Park naming rights and a new television contract. For those that have been following along this offseason, you know how important added financial flexibility will be moving forward.
Progress is coming along in our new Centerfield Zone. We’re looking forward to having you all experience this new area at @MarlinsPark on March 28th for @Marlins #OpeningDay. pic.twitter.com/lSfMo5EdYO— Chip Bowers (@chipbowers) March 1, 2019
The Marlins are in good hands with president of business operations Chip Bowers, but there is little doubt that he faces an arduous task. It’s up to Bowers to position his “product” attractively to potential sponsors and media partners despite the National League’s longest active postseason drought.
When walking into a raging fire in order to save a house, you cannot simply focus on one room; the main objective must be to keep the foundation intact. A successful 2019 Marlins season hinges on the different aspects of the organization being cared for equally, combining to hoist them closer to true contender status.
What would you consider a successful season for the Fighting Fish? Is there anything that was overlooked? As always, let me know in the replies!