Give Fins a chance in 2019

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS - By TIMREYNOLDS AP Sports Writer

MI­AMI Mar­lins mess on >> Satur­day, Park The out­field was with a those worn- grass who out at ar­rived for the team’s an­nual FanFest be­ing greeted by signs re­mind­ing them that the turf will be re­placed soon.

When it comes to the Mar­lins, many things are a work in prog-ress

the Wear­ing re­branded new team uni­forms logo, with in a sta­dium that has got­ten sprucedup since last sea­son ended, some of the 2019 Mi­ami Mar­lins gath­ered for the first time to greet fans and start hyp­ing the new sea­son. Pitch­ers and catch­ers re­port to the team’s spring train­ing home in Jupiter on Wed­nes­day.

“I would tell our fans to just give us a chance,” Mar­lins Pres­i­dent of Base­ball Op­er­a­tions Michael Hill said. “So many people have writ­ten off the Mar­lins and re­ally haven’t taken an op­por­tu­nity to take a deep look at what we’re build­ing. When you have a lot to do, it’s go­ing to take time and we un­der­stand where we’re at. But we’ve been able to add a tremen­dous the By last Hill’s 18 months.” amount count, of the tal­ent Mar­lins over have added 38 prospects and up­per-level play­ers since this new regime led by Derek Jeter took over af­ter the 2017 sea­son. That has gone a long way to­ward re­stock­ing a farm sys­tem that by

Hill’s own de­scrip­tion was “bar­ren.”

“We know where we were,” he said. “We know where we’re go­ing.”

TheMar­linswon63games last sea­son, their ninth straight year un­der the .500 mark and the 15th con­sec­u­tive time the team missed the post­sea­son — the sec­ond­longest drought in base­ball, topped only by Seat­tle’s run of 17 straight sea­sons with­out a play­off game. At­ten­dance plum­meted to a club record­low811,104, and the teamjust traded away its best player, send­ing catcher J.T. Real­muto to Philadel­phia.

“Only one team gets to win the cham­pi­onship ev­ery year,” said right-handed pitcher Dan Straily, who started 56 games for the Mar­lins over the last two sea­sons. “I think ev­ery year, with ev­ery team in base­ball, there’s a lit­tle bit of ex­cite­ment for every­body to get go­ing. There’s al­ways that hope that this could be the year.”

The Mar­lins aren’t say­ing if 2019 is their year. Or 2020. Or 2021, for that mat­ter.

They just be­lieve their year is com­ing.

For Real­muto, the Mar­lins got catcher Jorge Al­faro and pitch­ing prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Ste­wart from the Phillies. Al­faro has aboveav­er­age power and, the Mar­lins be­lieve, evena bet­ter arm

than Real­muto — who they con­sid­ered elite in that ca­pac­ity. Sanchez has the arm to con­sis­tently reach the up­per 90s on his fast­ball, while Ste­wart doesn’t throw as hard but has off-speed of­fer­ings that get him out of trou­ble.

It’s deals like that why the Mar­lins truly be­lieve this re­build — one of many by the fran­chise in the last 15 years — is the right one.

“They’re do­ing what they said: build­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion from the bot­tom up,” Mar­lins man­ager Don Mat­tingly said. “You keep ac­quir­ing tal­ent. You keep march­ing down that road that gets you to the point where you are com­pet­ing for a chance to win a world cham­pi­onship ev­ery year.

That’s the plan. That’s the goal. I think any­thing less than that, you don’t ac­cept it.”

There was a rea­son why the grass looked bad Satur­day. Mon­ster Jam — a show where five- or six-ton trucks with 66-inch tires will de­stroy any­thing in their path — is com­ing to Mar­lins Park next week­end. It’ll chew up the cur­rent turf quite nicely. From there, new sod goes down in time for open­ing day.

“It’ll look noth­ing like it does right now when we come back in six weeks,” Straily said.

The grass will be ex­actly what the team wants by then. The Mar­lins only hope the team is closer to their lik­ing by then as well.

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