Barry Jackson

Marlins executive offers timetable for on-field competitiveness. And praise for young arms

Jeter: “When you compete, you’re competing to win”

"When you compete, you're competing to win", said Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter during a press conference at Marlins Park the day before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training
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"When you compete, you're competing to win", said Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter during a press conference at Marlins Park the day before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training

A six-pack of Marlins notes on a Monday:

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter has been reluctant to offer a timetable about when the Marlins can be good again, insisting that he wants to have a good team now, even though that’s unrealistic in the early stages of rebuilding.

And you can understand Jeter’s reluctance.

But the team’s chief revenue officer, Adam Jones, offered a timetable last week in an interview with Front Office Sports’ Adam White.

Asked what the Marlins future looks like in three years or five years, Jones spoke of a “three- to five-year window” to put a “sustainable product on the field that’s competitive day-in and day-out.”

One longtime American League scout told me this spring that’s it’s unrealistic to expect a team competing for a playoff spot until five years into this rebuilding program, even though the young pitching has been impressive.

Nevertheless, if the young pitching continues to perform well, it would be disappointing if this wasn’t at least a .500 level team by 2021.

The question is whether there will be enough revenue streams to address offensive holes in free agency then. Wei Yin Chen’s onerous contract comes off the books after 2020, because the Marlins will presumably make sure he doesn’t reach innings thresholds to active a 2021 option.

Whether Don Mattingly makes it to the end of this rebuilding project is highly questionable. A source said there was no thought being given to an in-season managerial change even before the sweep of the Mets this past weekend.

But Fox’s Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday that a Marlins managerial change is likely after the season when Mattingly’s contract expires. I have been told that decision hasn’t been made; it will be based on large part on how the team plays the rest of the way.

First baseman Neil Walker hopes Mattingly is retained through this process.

“He’s a great leader, gets us through ups and downs and he’s always cool, calm and collected and as knowledgeable as they come,” Walker said.

Even after being swept by the Marlins, the Mets offered begrudging praise.

“No matter what kind of team they have they are on the major-league level,” Mets second baseman Robinson Cano told New York media Sunday. “Just because we have a better team on paper doesn’t mean we can go out and play and win a game.”

Even beyond the great work by Pablo Lopez and Sandy Alcantara in dominant starts against the Mets over the weekend, here’s another encouraging angle about the Marlins’ young pitching:

None of the four youngest pitchers in the rotation is allowing batters to hit for anything close to a high average.

Batters are hitting. .180 off Caleb Smith, .227 off Trevor Richards, .238 off Pablo Lopez and .258 off Sandy Alcantara. That ranks Smith fourth in the National League, Richards 29th and Lopez 41st.

Jose Urena is allowing hitters to bat .290 off him, much higher than his .259 average.

Marlins catcher Chad Wallach said when he was standing at first base against the Cubs, Anthony Rizzo (.245, 11 homers, 30 RBI) “said how good our staff is and their stuff is, and how it’s never easy at-bats against them. It’s incredible how good they are now and how good they could become.”

Though Lewis Brinson hit well at Triple A for a time last week (including home runs on Thursday and Friday), the Marlins don’t want to rush him back up. He’s at .259 with 14 RBI and 22 strikeouts in 17 games after going 0 for 5 Sunday.

“The thing with Lewis was to get his confidence back, being able to work in an atmosphere which is not the big-league level where everything is being judged,” Mattingly said. “We’ve got to get this guy right. It’s getting his swing together.”

The Marlins also don’t want to rush Monte Harrison (.286, 12 RBI in 38 games at Triple A). Harrison, incidentally, is 16 for 16 on stolen base attempts this season.

At this point, the Marlins prefer to share playing time between Curtis Granderson (.179) and Harold Ramirez instead of playing Ramirez every day.

But Mattingly said “we need to find out” about Ramirez, who’s 3 for 14 since being promoted. “He needs a number of at-bats. I don’t know if it has to be every day. He’s going to get a lot of at-bats. He’s going to dictate at-bats.”

Mattingly said he speaks to president/baseball operations Michael Hill about what players the front office wants to see in games and how often. Mattingly, easy to work with, is receptive to that sort of input.

Quick stuff: Radio announcer Dave Van Horne, 79, is skipping 20 games this season, with Gaby Sanchez and Jeff Nelson among those filling in…Jeff Brigham, who had a 6.06 ERA in four late-season starts for the Marlins last season, has been shifted to the bullpen this year and has allowed only three hits in 10 2/3 innings at Triple A New Orleans....

Middle infielder Joe Dunand, Alex Rodriguez’s nephew and the 2017 second-round pick out of North Carolina State, started 2018 promisingly at Jupiter but has struggled to hit Double A pitching; he’s at .221 with 15 RBI this season at Jacksonville.

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