Jeter: Winning mindset key for Marlins

July 22nd, 2020

MIAMI -- A cultural change is underway with the Marlins, as the organization is transitioning from building through its farm system to emphasize winning at the big league level.

With Opening Day set for Friday against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter is confident his franchise is moving in the right direction.

“You always hear, ‘What comes first?’ Is it culture, or is it winning?” Jeter said during a Zoom call on Wednesday. “Is it winning, or is it culture? I think, the culture of having a winning mindset is where it all begins.

“Our guys are going to go out there and they're going to take the field, and they're expected to perform and they're expected to go out there and win. In that sense, nothing changes here with us. But our prospects, at a particular point, everyone can get an opportunity to play at some point.”

The Marlins are treating the shortened season as an opportunity to surprise people and become a playoff contender.

The optimism may sound far-fetched with the Marlins coming off a 57-105 campaign and successive last place finishes in the National League East. The 2020 schedule also is difficult, with all of Miami’s games against either the NL East or the American League East.

But despite the long odds, Jeter sees confidence building from the Minor Leagues on up in Miami. With a young group of core players getting more experienced and waves of high-end prospects on the verge of reaching the big leagues, the Marlins envision a bright future.

“There's a mindset that I believe is starting to change here in the organization over the last couple of years,” Jeter said. “You can't accept mediocrity. We preach it over and over and over again. And this is something that is taught from Rookie ball on up. When you take the field, you're taking the field with the mindset that that you're going to win.”

Along with expectations, Jeter addressed several other topics. Here are some of the highlights from his Zoom call.

New playing surface, shorter outfield dimensions at Marlins Park
The ballpark has gone from natural grass to the The B1K: Batting A Thousand by Shaw Sports Turf.

“We've gotten rave reviews from our players on the turf,” Jeter said. “This turf is a lot different than the artificial surfaces that I've played on. When I was playing, I didn't particularly like the artificial surfaces. But this is as close to grass as you can possibly get.”

Tough 10-9 exhibition loss at Atlanta on Tuesday
The Marlins let a seven-run lead slip away in the eighth inning and lost in the ninth on Matt Adams’ walk-off homer. The final result aside, Jeter likes the test his team faces playing another club on the road.

“I said it to our staff earlier today,” Jeter said. “I don't think I've ever been so excited to watch a Spring Training game before. It was good for us to get back on the field.”

Playing through a pandemic
Jeter addressed the club about being responsible and accountable before the team headed to Atlanta on Tuesday.

“I spoke to them right before they left and headed to Atlanta, and said, 'Look, you have to take into consideration what you're doing away from the ballpark,’” Jeter said. “That's where the discipline is going to have to come from. We can take care of you while you are here, but when you go home, that's when you have to be safe.”

Discussions for new local TV deal
In the final season of their TV deal with Fox Sports Florida, which is owned by Sinclair, Jeter said talks are ongoing.

“Where we stand right now, as an organization, obviously, the pandemic set a lot of people back,” Jeter said. “We've been focused on getting back on the field and getting our season underway.

“I'm pretty sure Sinclair has been doing the same thing, as well. We have discussions. We continue to have discussions. Everyone knows that the deal that we have is well below market. We want a partner that looks at this organization and they see the bright future that's on the horizon. We'll continue to have those discussions. But everyone knows this is the last of our TV deal. One way or another, we'll have another one going into next season.”