Shocker! Mar­lins re­build

Tampa Bay Times - - Commentary Rays - BY DAVE HYDE

You know the drill.

“It takes time,” Mar­lins CEO Derek Jeter said.

And they’re build­ing and grow­ing.

“We con­tinue to build, we con­tinue to grow,” he said.

And there’s no time frame on win­ning.

“I don’t put a time frame on it, be­cause any time you put a time frame on it, it al­lows your team to ac­cept medi­ocrity,” he said.

Year 2 of the New Mar­lins, or Next Mar­lins, or what­ever you want to call who­ever they are now is about to start, ready or not. And for lovers of sym­bols, con­struc­tion equip­ment kept beep­ing and ham­mer­ing in Mar­lins Park as Jeter an­swered ques­tions for a few min­utes Mon­day on the edge of spring train­ing.

Loud con­struc­tion, you see, is the theme of an­other year. And pa­tience, if you have the kind that al­lows you to watch them re-con­struct, brick-by-de­tailed-brick.

So far the ob­vi­ous change is to the home run sculp­ture (gone), the out­field fence (blue, not green), the team logo, uni­form col­ors and (oh, God, not this) Billy The Mar­lin be­ing put on a Pa­leo diet and in a trimmed cos­tume.

The run­ning theme is Jeter & Co. want to dis­tance them­selves as far as pos­si­ble from ev­ery­thing about pre­vi­ous owner, Jef­frey Lo­ria. The only thing left would be to take down the 2003 World Se­ries marker high up in left­field. Can we get some­one on that?

Of course, by this point, no one cares about Lo­ria’s fin­ger­prints be­ing wiped clean as much as when Jeter’s team wins. If it does. Los­ing like Lo­ria is what Jeter re­ally needs to sep­a­rate him­self from, and no one knows when that will hap­pen.

The Mar­lins have added 38 play­ers in the past year. Maybe a few young play­ers take off this sea­son. Maybe not. The only good part of the Mar­lins com­pli­cated his­tory is hav­ing painful points of ref­er­ence. Year 2 of this re­build means it’s 1999 all over again.

Mark Kot­say was the fu­ture. Bruce Aven was a big hope. And ev­ery­one was ready to quit on Der­rek Lee for hit­ting .206. Who knew only Lee would be­come a fran­chise cor­ner­stone?

Who knows what any of these 2019 Mar­lins be­come, re­ally?

The is­sue is not many fans will even care un­til win­ning makes them care again. Who do you even fol­low? Even Jeter ad­mit­ted to sit­ting back and ob­serv­ing last year rather than get­ting to know his play­ers. Who knew who would sur­vive?

“Look, I’d love for ev­ery­thing to be fixed overnight,” he said. “But there’s a lot of things we need to im­prove upon in this or­ga­ni­za­tion. Re­pair­ing our re­la­tion­ship with the com­mu­nity is one of the big­gest ones we had to work on.

“I think we’ve made progress in that di­rec­tion, but we have to con­tinue. Ball­park ex­pe­ri­ence, I wish some of these im­prove­ments in place last year. They take time. We’re go­ing to con­tinue to make im­prove­ments to this park, con­tinue to make im­prove­ments for our over­all fan base.”

I get it. I’m one of those who un­der­stood the path Jeter took. Any­one who bought the team was trad­ing Gian­carlo Stan­ton’s con­tract. And, once he was gone, there was no way to win with the worst-rated mi­nor leagues in base­ball.

In the long run, it might work out. But Year 2 is the short run. We wait to see if they’re the worst team in base­ball or, like last year, achieve enough to be the sec­ond worst.

“I would take that like as a slap in the face, if I was a player,” Jeter said. “That’s the ap­proach we’ve got to have.”

Pa­tience is the only ap­proach this sea­son. And most fans are out of pa­tience. Jeter’s Mar­lins will only see them when they get a prod­uct worth watch­ing. Jeter is smart enough to un­der­stand what he in­her­ited and what is needed now.

“Im­prove­ment,” he said. “We need to see im­prove­ment. We need to see im­prove­ment from our younger guys who got an op­por­tu­nity to play last year. That’s how you get bet­ter. We can sit and talk about mi­nor­league sys­tems all you want, but it gets to a point when you’re in Mi­ami you have to de­velop and have to im­prove year in and year out.”

Un­til then, en­joy the newer, slim­mer Billy The Mar­lin.

As­so­ci­ated Press (2017)

As Mar­lins stars Gian­carlo Stan­ton, left, and Chris­tian Yelich de­parted, 38 play­ers were added in the past year.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Derek Jeter adopts a very fa­mil­iar Mar­lins re­build­ing strat­egy en­ter­ing his sec­ond sea­son as CEO: “It takes time. … Any time you put a time frame on it, it al­lows your team to ac­cept medi­ocrity.’’

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