The Philadelphia Phillies finished in third place in the National League East Division standings this past season, and actually led the division for more than a month.
The Miami Marlins finished in last place in the same division this past season. It marked a fourth finish in the division basement for the Fish over the last eight years.
In the 26-year history of their franchise the Marlins have just four finishes as high as second place. They have never finished a season in first place.
For much of the summer the Phillies appeared to be an organization on the rise. Improving young players winning improbably under inspiring leadership from a rookie manager.
During July and early August, it looked as if the Phillies and the similarly young and exciting Atlanta Braves were headed for a final week showdown for the division crown. The two rivals were scheduled to face one another in seven of the season’s final 10 games.
Many felt that the Washington Nationals had blown their best chances in recent years and were fading. The New York Mets were typically dysfunctional. And the Marlins were, well, the Marlins.
In other words, not only did it look as if the Phillies major competition in 2018 was going to come from Atlanta, but it also appeared that could be the case for years to come.
We all now know that the Phillies collapsed, and looked anything but a team on the rise over the final seven weeks. The club finished with a losing record for the sixth straight season. The Braves ran away with the division title, finishing 10 games ahead of them.
The Nationals slipped past the Phillies to finish in second place. The Mets finished strong, an 18-10 mark in September pulling them within three games of the Phillies by the end.
The Marlins, well, finished up like the Marlins. They won three games in a row just once after the mid-July MLB All-Star Game break.
As I pointed out in a recent article here at Phillies Nation, the Phillies are going to need to spend big and on just the right players in free agency in order to catch up to the Braves and Nationals.
You can also make an extremely compelling argument that the Mets are in at least as good, if not better, shape than the Phillies over the next few seasons.
Jeter and the Marlins begin to get seriously aggressive with their rebuilding program
And now comes the news today that the Miami Marlins ownership has decided that they are not just going to sit around and remain the divisional doormat over the next decade. Derek Jeter and the others in their ownership group opened up their wallets today.
With the Marlins announcement of the signing of the top international prospect in baseball, Victor Victor Mesa, the Miami ownership group is signaling that they too want to push back towards contention.
Mesa is a 22-year-old outfielder from Cuba who is very nearly ready for Major League Baseball. The MLB scouting report on him reads as follows:
“…an outstanding defender with a strong arm. He’s also a plus runner and scouts like his upside and pedigree. There’s the belief that Mesa would be selected in the first round if he was eligible for the Draft, and he’s the type of hitter who could be placed at the top of the order.”
In making the signing announcement earlier today, Jeter spoke to the media and spoke of the Marlins goals. He was quoted as follows by Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald:
“We want Miami to be the destination for top international talent. We understand the diversity here in Miami. We’re embracing that diversity.”
In addition to Victor Victor, the Marlins also announced the signing of his brother, Victor Mesa Jr. The younger brother is a switch-hitting 17-year-old outfielder who starred with Cuba’s 18-under national team. He will be more of a project than the older brother, who could push his way up to Miami as soon as next season.
The Miami community has a strong Latino presence, especially Cuban, and you can expect that adding players of that ethnic and cultural background will continue to be a priority as the team builds and continues moving forward.
The message? There is another team in the division that is not going to be sitting on its hands. All today’s signing does is highlight with extreme emphasis the warning that I wrote about in that earlier piece. Phillies ownership and management needs to spend on true impact player star power if they want to keep up.
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- Five Phillies prospects primed to make a jump up in 2019
- Machado: a dirty player who admittedly doesn’t play hard, but may want $300 million – you in?
- Nick Williams proved he belongs with Phillies, but in what role moving forward?