If for some reason you haven’t dug into the Miami Herald’s excellent exposé on Derek Jeter and company’s plans to make the Marlins profitable, uh, do that real quick and get back to me. (Parts 1, 2, and 3 here, with another slated to come out today).
Authored by Barry Jackson, it lays bare all sorts of interesting financial details, ranging from projected payroll information to Jeter being able to recoup all of the money he invested in a couple of seasons.
All caught up now? Fantastic. As with most things related to the new regime, the revelations have caused a wide variety of reactions. Fresh calls for a boycott have resurfaced, coupled with renewed anger at Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball for allowing this group to buy the Marlins and treat the fan base in this fashion.
Personally, I can’t bring myself to get too worked up about all of it. We can’t undo the sale, and we (still) don’t really have any idea what this team is going to look like this season, let alone in a few years when payroll is supposedly going to rise. I’m not going to fault Jeter for trying to get his investment money back, that’s not an indictment on him as a person, it’s more of an indictment of the business side of the sport, because I think we’d all agree that the Marlins were better off holding on to Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton, and Marcell Ozuna, if money weren’t a part of the equation.
Wouldn’t it be great if cities owned the rights to the teams that bear their namesake? Perhaps this scenario would entail something along the lines of all baseball revenues being dumped into a giant pool that dictated each team’s payroll. The best teams would then be the ones that employed the smartest people, the teams who most wisely allocated their resources.
Without digging too deep into the merits and disadvantages of a salary cap system for baseball, we plainly understand that this utopian world does not exist. We as fans choose to root for laundry, largely (but not always) based upon zip code location of said uniforms. They are beholden to us only insomuch as the cost of building a competitive team does not conflict with their ability to generate a profit. Baseball is a game and simultaneously a big-time business, and the two are forever inextricably intertwined.
Fortunately for the fans, it’s often in the best interest in the business of baseball for ownership groups to strive for a winning franchise, a product that will consistently generate interest among the fan base year in and year out. If we judge Jeter and company on the second half of 2017 alone, you would of course grade them out poorly. Taking the moves made thus far, both on and off the field, into consideration, one can’t help but feel that the ticket sale projections from these earlier Project Wolverine reports are a bit...optimistic?
Of course, a more prudent course of action would be to observe over a longer period of time what Jeter’s ownership group can accomplish. If the Marlins suck in 2021, Jeter will have a lot of ‘splainin to do. In the meanwhile, as Dayton Moore once told impatient Royals fans, we simply need to “trust the process.” Maybe the Marlins version of that is “trust Project Wolverine.”
And the new Marlins play-by-play voice is...
Speaking of unpopular moves by the new ownership group, one of the greater outcries emitted from the Marlins’ fan base came when Fox Sports Florida let go of longtime play-by-play voice and all-around good guy Rich Waltz.
This decision was framed as a choice by Fox Sports Florida, which, sure, fine, whatever. You didn’t really expect Jeter to come out publicly and say that he personally had a hand in ditching Waltz, did you?
Much like the sale of the team, what’s done is done, and now we have no choice but to speculate on who will be the new TV voice of the Marlins in 2018. Thanks to Craig Mish, we now have an idea of who the finalists will be:
The finalists I confirmed are :— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) January 6, 2018
Scott Braun @scottbraun
Paul Severino @SeverinoMLB
Jesse Agler @jesseagler
Jeff Levering @JLevering4
Jose Mota @JoseMota05
Agler has recently opted to stay with the Padres. In person interviews are next in South Florida.
What do we know about the confirmed final four? (excluding Agler who is out as mentioned in Mish’s tweet).
Scott Braun is a host on MLB Network and he also performs hosting duties for NHL Network, SportsNet New York TV and appears on SiriusXM radio. He spent two seasons as the play-by-play voice for the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod League. Notably, he has local ties as a University of Miami grad. Here is a clip of him doing post-game for the New York Mets last season with Ron Darling:
Paul Severino also appears as a play-by-play guy on both MLB and NHL Networks, and has also in the past anchored ESPN News and Sportscenter.
Here he is hosting a MLB Tonight segment on 1995 prospects:
Jeff Levering has done radio play-by-play for the Milwaukee Brewers since 2015. He also appears on TV for the Big Ten Network and Fox Sports.
Below is a clip of him calling various highlights from a Rockies/Brewers game:
José Mota is the son of baseball luminary Manny Mota. José himself had a cup of coffee in the majors as a second baseman in the early-mid 90’s, but he’s made his mark more as a play-by-play guy, at first doing only the Spanish side for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim but later adding English-side duties to his workload as well.
Here’s Mota interviewing Angels’ owner Arte Moreno this past Spring Training:
I don’t really have a favorite among that group, but all things considered, I think I’d prefer a young guy who has a chance of sticking around awhile, growing with the franchise and making this thing his own. Given the local tie, Braun might be the best bet in that category.
The latest on the Yelich/Realmuto saga
The subject of our latest FanPost Friday, practically every team in the majors could use one or both of the remaining Marlins’ offensive stars.
In that vein, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports has reported that Christian Yelich and the Marlins are meeting (or have already met?) this weekend to discuss the possibility of a trade.
It’s a formality, of course, as Yelich does not have a no-trade clause and is under team control for a minimum of four seasons. More likely, ownership would like to gauge how Yelich is really feeling about things; despite reports that he may be unhappy largely based upon speculation regarding a cryptic emoji tweet in the wake of the trade of his best friends on the team, he has not come out publicly and asked for a trade (unlike J.T. Realmuto).
Again, though, how they feel about being traded or not is ultimately irrelevant; they will continue to play and perform at a high level whether it be in Miami or elsewhere. It’s not as though Realmuto and Yelich would turn into a couple of miscreants, spreading discontent around the clubhouse.
You can add Ken Rosenthal to the list of people who think the Marlins should trade Yelich and Realmuto now (subscription required). Rosenthal believes that Yelich alone would net two elite prospects alongside potentially two additional moderately promising ones, ala the Chris Sale/Adam Eaton trades executed by the White Sox. Now couple that return with a Realmuto trade and you’ve rebuilt the farm system with the stroke of a pen (or is that a dash of a hand across a keyboard...doesn’t have the same ring to it).
Rosenthal also mentions that the Astros and the Cubs held onto one superstar apiece during their transition from cellar-dwellers to World Series Champions. It’s almost as if, even though he’s decided in favor of trading the duo, a part of him thinks they should hold fast.
I entertain a similar dichotomy within myself. It certainly would be easier for the team to sell tickets next season if Yelich/Realmuto were still around. For a spell, anyway, until the team around them crumbles due to not being up to snuff with the rest of the NL East. I can envision a future where the Yelich and Realmuto are key cogs on a rising contender, but I can more easily see them being cashed in as the valuable trade chips that they are, producing such a veritable bounty that the Marlins can’t help but be good in three years time.
The conclusion is inescapable: The Marlins don’t have to trade Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto right now, but they absolutely should. What’s it going to do, alienate the fan base?
A bit too late for that.
Now’s not the time to get squeamish.