Marlins Madness: Fans Go After Jeter in Town Hall, Dan Le Batard Goes After Commissioner in Interview

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Marlins Madness: Fans Go After Jeter in Town Hall, Dan Le Batard Goes After Commissioner in Interview

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I can’t say that this particular Bleacher Nation post has much of anything to do with the Chicago Cubs – outside of, perhaps, reminding you just how very fortunate Cubs fans are to have the Ricketts Family as owners of the team – but I can tell you that any tangential baseball fan can enjoy(?) the pure insanity emanating out of and around the Miami Marlins right now.

A little upfront: If you’re unaware, the Miami Marlins were recently purchased by a group fronted (as the face) by former Yankee Derek Jeter. Since that sale, the team has begun dismantling the roster, doing so without particularly good messaging or returns. It started with a trade of Dee Gordon to Seattle, was followed by Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees, and has briefly paused after shipping Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals, though each of Christian Yelich and JT Realmuto have expressed discontent (to which the Marlins bizarrely responded publicly to say they aren’t going to listen to it).

In each and every trade, the Marlins dropped loads of payroll (and talent), at the expense, some would argue, of a quality return. And while rebuilds, in general, are often a good idea, most can tell that this “rebuild” is more about slashing payroll than improving for the future – oh, and they’re probably not done yet.

In any case, as I’m sure you can imagine, Marlins fans and analysts have been absolutely reeling with anger over the apparent direction of the team, which is not much improved from Giancarlo Stanton’s days there at the “circus,” as he called it on his way out the door.

Well, perhaps – in part – in response to the recent backlash, Marlins owner Derek Jeter held a town hall with Marlins’ fans yesterday, and, well, it did NOT go according to plan. In fact, by most accounts it was a downright disaster.

You can read all about it at Local10Yahoo Sports, SportsNet, but I’ll share just a sample of some of the tweets from the event:

Needless to say, it goes on like that and doesn’t get better. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t be 100% convinced that the Marlins owners don’t just have a communication problem. In other words, the Cubs front office did an extraordinary job getting us on board with the rebuild, while explaining, in detail when available, what steps they were taking to ensure the team was better in the future. I’m not sure that’s what the Marlins are doing.

Instead, it genuinely seems like they’re tearing this thing down to the studs, because the financial situation is a bit more dire than desirable. Take, for example, the deal they made for extra financing up front. If I’m reading this correctly, the Marlins owners basically gave up an un-losable position in exchange for $90M in cash right now. A position so desirable for MSD Partners – the hedge fund financiers – that they’ll make out whether the Marlins are extremely successful … or bleeding cash. Yeah, figure out how badly the new Marlins owners must’ve needed that one …

And then, after all of the town-hall madness, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred went on ESPN radio to talk Dan Le Batard in what I can only assume was one of the most regrettable conversations of his life. This is truly one of the wildest baseball interviews I’ve ever seen:

Wow. You can see the full interview here.

First of all, I can’t help but be impressed by Le Batard for pressing Manfred on his answers more than most reporters will ever be willing to go. And yet, in the end, Manfred works very hard to tip toe around whether he truly knew what the Marlins were going to do with the team (i.e. slash payroll this aggressively), by saying the league doesn’t have to “approve” those sort of deals.

A source directly involved in the Marlins sale, per the Miami Herald, said that the Commissioner’s comments were “Absolutely not true. They request and receive the operating plan from all bidders.”

Apparently, ‘Project Wolverine’ – the name for Jeter’s plan (presumably because no matter how many times the team’s payroll is cut, the plan to cut more keeps regenerating) – always suggested an effort to reduce payroll to $85 million (down from about $140M if the whole team was kept together). Indeed, according to Barry Jackson, this entire plan was both vetted and approved by MLB prior to approval of the sale: “Every [Jeter] investor and non investor has the Wolverine financial plan of slashing payroll to $85 million. Widely circulated.”

Insanity.

And you know what? I feel terrible about it. Miami seems like a great place for a baseball team, and for the first time in a while, their fans had a young, exciting core led by an MVP and surrounded with cost-controlled youngsters. I know things don’t always work out as planned, and I know the tragic death of Jose Fernandez is a part of this story, but with the Nationals seemingly at the end of their competitive cycle after 2018 (they lose Bryce Harper and keep a lot of aging, expensive contracts), the Marlins might’ve been wise to strike, not retreat.

And the fact that the retreat was not only pre-meditated (and approved by MLB), but that the pre-meditation has rendered the rebuild mostly fruitless so far only makes everything worse.


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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.