One of the greatest winners in MLB history is on pace to lead the Miami Marlins to perhaps the worst season baseball has ever seen.
Derek Jeter tried to spread the blame last week. All he really did was spread some bull.
As the Miami Marlins exited Chicago with a 10-27 record on Thursday, they continued on a course of potentially historic futility. The Marlins are on pace to win 44 games. Since 1961, when Major League Baseball adopted the 162-game schedule, only three teams have won fewer than 50 games in a non-strike season.
The first was the lovably inept 1962 New York Mets, an expansion team that won only 40 games. The second was the 2003 Detroit Tigers, who won 43. Finally, the 2018 Baltimore Orioles won only 47. To add insult to that, the Marlins are on pace to be outscored by 345 runs for the season, which would be the worst margin ever.
As in forever. As in all of baseball history.
While there have been plenty of bad teams in the history of baseball, this Marlins team is special in one regard. Jeter, a man who undoubtedly will be elected to the Hall of Fame next year when he’s first eligible and who personified class on the field during his career with the New York Yankees, killed this team.
Jeter is the CEO and owns a four percent stake in the team. Despite that impressive title and share of the team, Jeter didn’t just kill the Marlins, he eviscerated this team. The Marlins not only have no present, their future looks awful as well. Jeter not only sent away four excellent-to-great players, he got almost nothing back for them.
That’s why it was almost galling to hear Jeter talk about how everyone in the organization should be unhappy and disappointed.
“We all have to improve, collectively,” Jeter said.
That’s tripe. Jeter is the one responsible for this mess and the brutal outlook. He put his name and his money behind this operation. Manager Don Mattingly didn’t trade away a bunch of good players to create this crapfest. Don’t blame guys like Isaac Galloway, Jon Berti and Pete O’Brien for a lineup that should be playing in Triple-A.
Don’t blame the overwhelming lack of talent in the farm system on anybody else, either. If Jeter wants to assess blame, the only finger he should be pointing is a thumb and poking it right into his chest.
The Marlins should have one of the best outfields in baseball. They had Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. That’s two guys who have won MVP awards and an middle-of-the-order power hitter. Yelich leads the National League with 16 home runs and Ozuna is tied for third with 11.
Their total of 27 is more than the Marlins (24) have as a team. Throw in the fact that the Marlins traded away catcher J.T. Realmuto and you have an exodus of talent that is stunning. With those four players and a couple of wise additions, the Marlins could be competitive.
But that’s not all folks.
Sure, some teams go through rebuilds. They trade away prime talent now to stock up with prospects. That’s modern sports and it can work, if you actually get prospects.
Of the 13 players the Marlins got for Stanton, Yelich, Ozuna and Realmuto, three are currently in the majors (pitcher Sandy Alcantara, journeyman infielder Starlin Castro and fading prospect catcher Jorge Alfaro). Only two others (pitcher Sixto Sanchez and outfielder Monte Harrison) are in the top 100 prospects as rated by MLB.com.
And Harrison, who comes in at No. 100, is a 23-year-old who struck out more than 200 times last season. In Double-A. His swing is better suited to be a ceiling fan in a Florida bungalow.
The rest of the group is either pure mediocrity or is being mismanaged. Outfielder Lewis Brinson,. the centerpiece of the Yelich deal, has been a bust so far. He has hit under .200 in parts of two seasons. Still, there’s no reason Brinson shouldn’t be in the majors when the Marlins wasting at-bats with the likes of Berti and Galloway, who are each 29, and Curtis Granderson, who is 38.
As the saying goes in sports, if you’re going to be bad, at least be young. Young guys just want to play and they’re mentally resilient. Of course, Jeter missed that lesson in team building during all his years playing for the always-contending Yankees. That’s probably why only two of the Miami’s everyday players is under 26 and none of them are under 25.
While some people will point to the Marlins rotation (Alcantara, Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez and Trevor Richards) as a foundation, not one of those guys has ace potential. In fact, none of them may ever be better than a No. 3 pitcher on a good team.
What Jeter did was not only give away prime talent, he gave it away at bargain prices. He turned wine into water.