The odds of the Miami Marlins winning the World Series this season are set at +100,000 in Las Vegas — the worst in Major League Baseball. For those of you who aren't familiar with gambling odds, that means if you bet $100 on the Marlins winning the title and they prevail, you'd be paid an amount of money higher than what many players on the team took home the entire season.
So, yeah, nobody is expecting the Marlins to compete this season, much less win a World Series title. Last season's 57-105 record isn't just the floor for the team — it's the basement. But by all accounts, the Marlins should show signs of improvement this season.
If the first week-plus of spring training is any indication, the Marlins certainly seem to be on an upward trajectory. Fans should go into this season with an open mind and hope for the best. The team itself, however, must understand that Miamians have little faith left in the Marlins. That needs to be motivation for the team to grow because this might be its last shot to succeed in this town.
Fans don't immediately need championships or even playoff berths. But they do need to see the team nurturing prospects with obvious potential and spending wisely on free agents.
The Marlins have transformed their Minor League system from one of the worst in Major League Baseball to one of the best. Sixto Sanchez, J.J. Bleday, Edward Cabrera, Monte Harrison, Jazz Chisholm, and Jerar Encarnacion are just the top-flight names you'll see with the big league as soon as this April. There are plenty of players behind them — from 17-year-olds to solid Triple-A guys — who make up a pipeline of talent the Marlins haven't seen in years.
That's different from past seasons. The old regime cared nothing about prospects. It had no patience. It traded tomorrow for a shortsighted and farfetched today. Derek Jeter and this Marlins regime get it: A healthy farm system means competing for titles year in and year out without spending $325 million on one player. It sure seems like these Miami Marlins are a hell of a lot different from Jeffrey Loria and David Samson's Marlins, no matter what people who didn't understand the Stanton and Yelich trades will tell you.
Marlins fans seem positive going into this season, and they should be. The team has a lot of players worth following, and the franchise is in a healthy position. It's up to the Marlins brass to capitalize on the hype, add to it, and grow. Marlins fans are not willing to watch a loser take the field for the next five years, and they certainly won't be sticking around for another rebuild after the last one.
No Marlins season in the history of the franchise is more important than this one. There's a fork in the road, with one path leading to promise, earned trust, and respect and the other leading to new depths of fan numbness and disinterest.