Samson sees Marlins trending upward for 2015

Fifteen-game bump and fan interest has team president feeling confident

Samson sees Marlins trending upward for 2015

MIAMI -- After years of uncertainty, the Marlins firmly believe they are entering an era of stability. The product on the field improved by 15 games in 2014, and the perception around the community is changing, reflected by increased season-ticket renewal numbers and more overall interest in the club.

"I think it really is the Marlins' time in Miami to shine," team president David Samson said. "We have a unique opportunity right now. We are truly getting better off the field and on the field at the same rate. That's what is so exciting to me."

One of the surprise teams in the league, the Marlins ended up a respectable 77-85 a year after finishing 62-100. The club remained on the fringes of the National League Wild Card chase until the final two weeks of the season.

Samson noted more fans are signing up at this point for season tickets, and those already locked up to plans in 2014 are coming back for next year.

Internally, team officials wonder what might have been if NL Most Valuable Player Award candidate Giancarlo Stanton didn't get hit in the face by a pitch at Milwaukee on Sept. 11. Losing Stanton at a time they were hopeful of making one last postseason push was too much for the team to overcome.

Looking at the big picture, the organization recognizes what it is building. All signs are pointing up, and Samson sees the Marlins' brand catching on in South Florida.

"You see it with the people who are at the ballpark and the way they enjoy themselves at Marlins Park," Samson said. "You see the way they enjoy watching games. You see the way the team fights for 27 outs. You see the way the crowd stays in it for 27 outs, because they never know what they're going to see."

What Samson also sees are the dark clouds of uncertainty that mired the franchise for nearly two decades are starting to disappear. When Jeffrey Loria assumed ownership of the club in 2002, the Marlins shared Sun Life Stadium with the NFL's Miami Dolphins, and they had no guarantee of a home of their own.

In 2012, the Marlins finally moved into their own building, state-of-the-art Marlins Park, complete with its retractable roof.

"All of the distractions that have accompanied this franchise since 1993 [the team's first year], I feel as though now, 21 years in, the franchise is finally at a place of stability," Samson said.

Improvement on the field came a few years later than the club had anticipated. But the Marlins are tracking in the right direction. Manager Mike Redmond was rewarded on the final day of the regular season with a contract extension through 2017.

The performance and promise of 2014 has raised optimism for next year and beyond.

"We finally have an opportunity to grow and have continued and sustainable growth," Samson said. "That's something the franchise never had before I got here, or since I've been here. There was always something that was next. Something that had to happen next.

"All that's next is to try to make the playoffs. [The process] started with the first year, getting better than we were last year. And next year, getting better than we were this year."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.