MIAMI -- New Marlins CEO Derek Jeter saw the promise at this year's World Baseball Classic, which turned Marlins Park into a party atmosphere, complete with live music and sellout crowds.Jeter recognized that promise again on Tuesday night along the Skyline Terrace, where the organization held the first of a
MIAMI -- New Marlins CEO Derek Jeter saw the promise at this year's World Baseball Classic, which turned Marlins Park into a party atmosphere, complete with live music and sellout crowds.
Jeter recognized that promise again on Tuesday night along the Skyline Terrace, where the organization held the first of a series of town-hall meetings with 200 season-ticket members for 90 minutes.
"They're passionate. I think that's the thing that's most important, and I think that's the thing that stood out," Jeter said. "I would much rather have a situation where we're here and we're answering questions from fans that are passionate and care about the organization, as opposed to people just saying all positives. That shows me and us that they care about the performance on the field, this team, this organization, and obviously they've been through a lot."
Jeter preached building -- not rebuilding -- through character, integrity and hard work, with a focus on sustained success. The organization will develop by adding talent to all levels.
The Marlins began that process by trading National League MVP Award winner Giancarlo Stanton, as well as fellow All-Stars Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon within the past month. Not only did Miami shed more than $340 million off future payroll, but the organization also acquired 10 players, including seven prospects who landed in its Top 30, according to MLBPipeline.com.
Jeter acknowledged that the fan base has seen the Marlins "make moves like this time and again," and that the new ownership group will need to gain trust. Jeter reiterated that his message has been consistent since Day 1, when at the introductory news conference two months ago, he asked the fan base to be patient.
"This is not the same old, same old. This is not a project to break a team down just to break it up again. That's not our plan here," Jeter said. "We have clear direction [to be] sustainable over time. We have to mend a lot of broken fences."
Before taking questions from the season-ticket holders, Jeter said he disagreed with some "inaccuracies" out there, and that he feels the trades the team has made for Gordon, Stanton and Ozuna have been favorable. Jeter believes president of baseball operations Michael Hill is "very capable of doing his job," and that the organization added members to various departments -- such as Gary Denbo -- to help in the evaluation of talent.
"You have to build the organization in order to be sustainable," Jeter said. "You can't go around trying to chase a championship, because it just doesn't work that way. What we need to do is we need to build, and we need to build from the bottom up. We've made steps in that direction. I would expect people to be upset with some of the moves we've done.
"I said that from our opening press conference that we would make unpopular decisions at times. I wouldn't expect everyone to agree with the decisions that we make. Just know we have a plan moving forward, and we will stick to that plan. It can be painful. Saw it with some of the fans' questions, statements and comments. They're hurt, but I'm confident if we put a good product on the field they'll come back and support us."
Hill added that the returns in Miami's recent trades included a mixture of low- and high-level players to "create layers of depth."
"You don't know their names yet, but you will, just like you did with the ones in the past," Hill said.
There has been an acknowledged learning curve for Jeter, the 14-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion, as he transitions into a front-office role. That's why Jeter thought it was important to hold the town-hall meeting now before the holidays, especially after an active Winter Meetings.
In addition to questions about the roster, the fans in attendance offered their recommendations for the ballpark experience that Jeter wants to improve upon -- from tailgates to replays on the jumbotron to Wi-Fi. He hopes to create community goodwill and outreach. What better way, Jeter explained, than by getting direct feedback?
"We bet on Miami, the fan base and the fan base coming back into this stadium," Jeter said. "We tried to acquire this team for 12 months and heard time and time again ... 'We don't think it's going to work.' We do. We think it does. That's why we acquired this team."
Christina De Nicola is an editorial producer for MLB.com based in Miami.