24 Oct Jeter wants his Marlins to be winners. And this move Monday shows he means business
October 22, 2018
If Derek Jeter is serious about winning, then Monday was a good day. He got three Victors for the price of two. “Victor-y is ours!” he ought to have proclaimed.
Hey, sorry, but if the Miami Marlins are going to introduce two major new signings and they are brothers named Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr., I’m going to have my fun.
So did the Marlins, who immediately (and presumably temporarily) changed their Twitter name to “Miami Miami Marlins.”
Some of Victor Victor’s followers on social media were doing the same. “People are changing their user name with their first name twice like I have it,” he said in Spanish, smiling.
In 1982, Bob Newhart on his TV sitcom meets his oddball new neighbors. “I’m Larry,” says one, “this my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.”
There’s New York, New York. So why can’t Miami have Victor Victor and Victor Jr? Victor Mesa Sr., their father and legendary former Cuban baseball player and manager, evidently liked the name.
Now let’s get serious.
Some things just feel right, like they shouldn’t have happened any other way, in any other city.
I felt that when the Miami Hurricanes needed a football coach and proven winner/UM alum Mark Richt came available.
I felt it again Monday when Jeter helped Victor Victor Mesa into his new No. 32 Marlins jersey, like a past Masters champion helping the new winner into his green jacket.
Victor Victor, 22, is the centerpiece of the double-bro bounty, getting a $5.25 million signing bonus as MLB’s No. 1-rated international prospect. Junior, 17, gets a $1 million bonus as a developmental project, whereas the older brother is said to be near big-league ready. Both are outfielders.
“Above average tools across the board,” raves Marlins president of baseball ops Michael Hill.
Vic-Vic is not a longball guy to make anyone forget Giancarlo Stanton, but brings great defense, an outstanding arm and speed as a top-of-the-order type. How soon will he rise from the minors to the Marlins?
“Cuidado,” he said.
Much less is known of Victor Jr., but I can tell you he’s Miami-ready with the attitude. Showed up Monday in a gray and white checked casual suit, open collar unbuttoned to mid-chest, gold necklace, earring, wristwatch with a face the circumference of a tennis ball.
“I will not disappoint anybody,” he promised.
Singer-actor-producer Marc Anthony, a part of the agency representing the Mesas, strode into the news conference wearing sunglasses. The event began 20 minutes late — Cuban time, Miami style!
The Fish also went hard after Cuban free agent pitcher Sandy Gaston, but post-Mesas didn’t have enough dough left in their international bonus spending pool. Each team has a set amount, but the Marlins acquired more from other teams in trades (such as sending reliever Kyle Barraclough to the Nationals) — all with landing the Mesas in mind.
This was the culmination of a well-executed plan by the Jeter group. Well-executed is not the same as successful. Let’s see what becomes of the Mesa boys. But if the elder bother lives up to billing, Marlins fans should be pleased.
Jeter toed a delicate line Monday on the Cuba Factor. Trying to fill a ballpark located in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana, Jeter knows it’s a bonus if the Marlins’ next big star is of Cuban heritage. The franchise lost one of those, tragically, in Jose Fernandez. As an everyday player, Mesa (who left Cuba with his family last spring), has a chance to be embraced and be the face of the team. The club will market him heavily.
But that only works if he earns that. If he proves himself. If the winning comes first.
It’s nice the Mesas are Cuban.
It’s more important that they’re good.
“You can’t market them unless they play well,” Jeter admits. “It starts with talent. We want Miami to be the destination for international talent.”
It’s a natural. Why do you think so many Latin American ballplayers have homes here? And why it was an easy sell to get the Mesas to sign here?
“It’s a not a secret,” as Victor Victor put it. “A lot of Latin Americans here. A lot of Cubans. So we feel like home here.”
That and a committed ownership group willing to spend could be a Victor-ious combination for Marlins fans.
Before Monday we’d not heard much from Jeter since the payroll purge that saw Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna dn Dee Gordon traded in a flurry, for prospects. He talked about building a team whose winning was sustainable.
Monday was a step there. Maybe two.