Pitchers and catchers reported for the Miami Marlins last week, which means one thing: It's almost time to yell at Derek Jeter again. For everything. Just in general. All baseball faults are his.
This time last year, Jeter was getting an intense taste of what it feels like to be in charge of Miami baseball. It was ugly. He was hammered by Marlins Man and season ticket owners for trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Marcel Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. And he was schooled by HBO's Bryant Gumble about "tanking."
But a year later, some of those people may want to apologize, because it seems Jeter's approach wasn't totally wrong. He has made good on a few campaign promises already. Contrary to popular belief, it's not all bad. Here are five things he got right in his first year running the Marlins.
The Miami Marlins have the 2nd best farm system in the NL East and the 6th best farm system in the entire National League.— Danny (@all_right_Miami) February 13, 2019
The last time you could say anything relatively close to that was when Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich were prospects.
Miami....it’s coming. pic.twitter.com/MehC66TS4U
1. The Marlins now have the 13th-best farm system, according to Baseball America. The Marlins farm system has been void of talent for a long time. But now, after a flurry of trades that followed the team's sale to Jeter and his ownership group, it's made a remarkable recovery in a short time.
Just 18 months ago, Baseball America ranked the Marlins farm system 29th in the league. But now the team is slotted at 13th best. For a franchise that never plans on competing with the LA Dodgers or Boston Red Sox in free agency, prospects are a must.
The Marlins may soon have one of the best minor league systems in baseball. That's how you compete for a decade, not just one fluke year.
2. The Marlins ended the J.T. Realmuto saga just in time. As good as J.T. Realmuto is at baseball, he had one characteristic that disqualified him from the Marlins' long-term vision — he didn't want to be here. It's as simple as that. The catcher thought he was suddenly too good for the Marlins.
Somehow, a player nobody knew a few seasons ago felt he was above the rebuilding effort. The same goes for outfielder Christian Yelich. In 2019, young guys tend to feel something is owed them early in their careers. For the Marlins to rebuild and create a Miami Heat-like culture, they had to clean house. Realmuto was the last real link to the old Marlins. Good riddance.
I absolutely LOVE the new look to the #Marlins Park outfield for 2019. The blue outfield fences, the Ivy-covered walls, the Palm trees and the new standing-room/party decks are SPECTACULAR. pic.twitter.com/zwsTSwbsJe— Glenn Geffner (@GlennGeffner) November 13, 2018
3. The new outfield standing-room social area and other park improvements. While we'll miss the Marlins home run sculpture, even though it was weird, Jeter and the Marlins made the right move by adding some spectacular fan areas in the outfield. These will give fans a nice place to congregate during games.
Getting people to the games while the Marlins are rebuilding will be difficult, so features such as the standing-room-only area and a new social area coming this spring will help lure young fans who want to grab a craft beer and mingle. In the end, this is a savvy way of utilizing some prime ballpark real estate.
In my honest opinion, Derek Jeter is doing the Miami rebuild the correct way. The team has a good future ahead of them.https://t.co/krXZyJWnmb— Justin Diamond (@justinddiamond) February 16, 2019
4. Jeter wants to focus on Miami fans first. Fans who live north of the Hard Rock Hollywood casino weren't thrilled when Jeter last week said he cares more about local fans than those who live far from Marlins Park. He plainly stated he can't worry about capturing fans who live 30 and 45 minutes away until he attracts locals who can walk up and buy a ticket on a Tuesday night.
Nothing was wrong with what he said. It should be that way. If you open a restaurant in Broward, you're damn-certain to pass out menus to people in the surrounding neighborhoods before you advertise to those in Jupiter. It's good business, and we're glad Jeter is realistic about whom he needs to please first.
Bruce Sherman on the importance of the #Marlins academy in the Dominican Republic:— Wells Dusenbury (@DuseReport) February 19, 2019
"It's extremely important. We're going to spend money. We told people we're looking at real estate and we're going to build a world class academy. It's critical."
5. The Marlins have turned their international scouting game all the way up. The last regime swung and missed numerous times on international prospects. Jeter, though, recently won the Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Jr. sweepstakes. And he's building an entire damn baseball mecca in the Dominican Republic. These are smart moves, especially for a team based in Miami. Jeter and the Marlins are getting this 100 percent right.
The Marlins will never spend money. Stop trying to make them spend money. They continue to acquire more international player pool money to spend, though. That goes much farther. And it's how the Marlins will likely find their next Stanton or Jose Fernandez.
The way to the World Series is through young, controllable minor league players or international prospects the team can sign to below-market deals. The Marlins seem to get that now. The leadership is without a doubt better than the last guys, who preferred to wait to overpay free agents every winter.
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