Dobbs embraces leadership role in Miami
Veteran sees potential in raw talent, solid young pitching on Marlins squad
MIAMI -- The record showed the Marlins lost 100 games, but the big picture tells Greg Dobbs a different story.
A veteran presence on a youthful squad, Dobbs sees plenty of reasons for optimism as the Marlins move forward. The raw talent, the quality pitching and the players' camaraderie are reasons the 35-year-old wanted to stick around.
In early June, Dobbs agreed to a one-year, $1.7 million contract extension to remain part of the rebuilding process in Miami.
"I embrace the challenge," he said. "But I embrace the challenge, because I understand the pieces we have in place. The future looks really, really bright, even though we are going through some tough times right now."
A valued left-handed bat off the bench, Dobbs has established roots in the organization. He signed as a non-roster invitee in 2009, and he's been a fixture with the team ever since.
As a pinch-hitter, he is arguably one of the best in the business. Since he broke in with the Mariners in 2004, his 95 pinch-hits are the most in the Majors.
Dobbs was 10-for-48 as a pinch-hitter this season, and he was at the plate in the memorable season finale when Henderson Alvarez no-hit the Tigers.
In the bottom of the ninth, Dobbs ducked out of the way on the wild pitch and immediately waved home Giancarlo Stanton, who scored the winning run that secured the Marlins' 1-0 win and Alvarez's unconventional no-hitter.
With Philadelphia from 2007-10, he played in three postseasons and won a World Series title in '08.
The Marlins are going through a transition, building around a young nucleus that showed promise in 2013, even if it didn't reflect in the overall record.
"There is a learning curve," Dobbs said. "Things aren't going to happen overnight. The Eiffel Tower wasn't built in a night. The Great Wall of China wasn't built in one night. It is going to take a little time. It's going to take a little patience. It takes dedication.
"I think, moving forward, we're going to be a really good team. I want to be part of when that happens."
With strong starting pitching in place, Dobbs foresees a relatively fast turnaround.
Even though the Marlins will not be signing Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu, who appears headed to the White Sox, Dobbs feels Miami has plenty of talent already on its roster.
Dobbs points out that Stanton is an ideal middle-of-the-lineup force, and Christian Yelich has the makings of a perennial .300 hitter. A healthy Logan Morrison and Marcell Ozuna are also potential impact hitters.
"There are a lot of really good pieces here," Dobbs noted. "It takes time for all that to culminate, for all these pieces and all these players to realize what it takes on a daily basis -- for them to realize, not only what it takes to compete at this level, but to win at this level."
Having the assurance that he will be with the organization has enabled Dobbs to take on a leadership role.
"I'm not the loud, boisterous leader," he said. "I'm not the rah-rah, in your face, scream and smash your football pads type. I'm a bit more reserved.
"I watch a lot. I watch and I listen more than I speak. If there is something that needs to be addressed, I absolutely speak. There is no question. To be an effective leader, you have to pay attention and watch and listen more than you speak."
Early in the season, he received steady playing time at first base because of injuries to Morrison, Casey Kotchman and Joe Mahoney.
When Morrison returned in June, Dobbs went back to his familiar roles as a pinch-hitter and spot starter.
In the past, the Marlins have had more than their share of roster turnover. But the team now is striving to put a core in place to build around for the foreseeable future.
"Continuity, that's a big part of it," Dobbs said. "You want that continuity. You want everybody to be on the same page. To have everybody on the same page, you have to have certain pieces that understand what it takes to win, and what it means to be a good Major League player. If I'm one of those pieces, I embrace that.
"I've had the privilege of winning a World Series. I've been on winning teams. I've played in the postseason. I've learned a lot, because I've paid attention more than I spoke."