You could hardly find a player as beloved as Derek Jeter, not in recent MLB history anyway. Just look at his victory tour, which was not only ballyhooed but insanely profitable as well. One of the things that ensured Jeter’s image was the fact that he revealed himself to very few people, and closely guarded himself from the press. The situation is a little different when you want to run a team, however, and as BetOnline customers probably recall, he did not have an auspicious debut as chief executive with the Miami Marlins, with whom he came in as a minority owner (with Bruce Sherman as the majority partner) shortly after his retirement.
In a series of moves that was wildly unpopular, Jeter dismantled what may have been the best outfield in baseball, surrendering Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. To put this into perspective, Stanton and Yelich have won the MVP award, while Ozuna is a prime candidate for that award this season, as he led the National League in home runs and RBI’s. To boot, he also traded Dee Gordon, a former batting champion, and then JL Realmuto, who is now a two-time All-Star catcher.
The gripe was that he got very little back for these players. Clearly the team’s trading partners understood that the Marlins were desperate to slash payroll, which gave them more leverage in these deals. As for questions about the wisdom of his personnel moves, Jeter more or less sidestepped them, and that included a rather infamous interview with Bryant Gumbel for HBO’s “Real Sports” where he was particularly evasive and even a little combative.
In 2018 the team went 63-98. Last season they were 57-105. All along, though, Jeter said he had a plan. And although he was not always able to articulate it very well, some could see that at least there was some structure to it.
In an effort to look a little more like a major league team, Miami acquired veterans Brandon Kintzler, Jorge Aguilar and Jonathan Villar. But there were youngsters like Sandy Alcantara, who came in the Ozuna deal, who people were looking at. Just what was going to be the product of these deals Jeter had made?
Well, Alcantara, who came in the trade for Ozuna, pitched a beautiful game on Wednesday as Miami took a 1-0 lead in their series against the Cubs. Sixto Sanchez, a right-hander with a 100-mph fastball who was acquired for Realmuto, is the Game 2 pitcher. He is opposed by Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish, who is a -194 favorite in the game at BetOnline.
Whatever happens in the series, you would have to consider this season to be wildly successful for the Marlins and Jeter. This team was ravaged by COVID-19 cases in the early part of the abbreviated season, which took down almost half the roster. But this team kept its head above water through it all. There have been 61 different players and 18 members of the team who made their major league debuts. And because there were games that had to be postponed during the outbreak, the Marlins had to come down the stretch playing 28 games in 24 days.
No wonder why Jeter called his manager, former Yankee great Don Mattingly, and told him he could catch a breather for a day or two after that.
And now Jeter gets a breather as well. After all, he has at least bought himself some time until next season. He has set a course for the future of the franchise and can declare himself safe from the wrath of fans and media who would have probably fired him last year and the year before, if only they had the opportunity.
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