Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush head an ownership group that has reportedly won an auction to buy the Miami Marlins. While the price paid for the team is not known and there has been no confirmation from Major League Baseball, all signs point to Jeter joining a long line of former players who became owners. Marlins fans excited about this development should pump the brakes. It’s going to take far more than Jeter to turn the Fish around.
After years of abuse at the hands of Jeffrey Loria’s ownership group, Marlins fans are rightly disenchanted with the franchise. Miami finished dead last in the National League in attendance in 2016, bringing in just 21,405 fans per game. That’s despite a fairly new stadium and an exciting collection of young players. Overall, they had the fourth-worst average attendance in baseball, ahead of only the Cleveland Indians, Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays.
So far this season, the Marlins rank 24th in average attendance (24,313) for their first six home contests. To say there is no buzz around the franchise would be a massive understatement.
Jose Fernandez’s death last season hit the Marlins and the Miami community hard. In fact, the after-effects of that tragedy will be felt for years. That said, the Marlins still have a young core centered around Giancarlo Stanton (27), Christian Yelich (25), J.T. Realmuto (26) and Marcell Ozuna (26). That’s an exciting group that people should be going to the park to see.
The Marlins face some big problems. The pitching staff is a disaster, and the farm system ranks among the worst in baseball. Miami has traded away its first-round picks from 2012, 2013 and 2015, while 2014 first-round pick Tyler Kolek underwent Tommy John surgery last April and hasn’t pitched since 2015.
Jeter’s presence will definitely help with public relations — if he puts in the effort. And he might be able to entice some free agents, along with the weather and favorable tax situation in Florida. But it’s going to take a Herculean effort to turn things around in Miami. Jeter alone won’t be enough to make things right with the Marlins.