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Miami Marlins

Jose Fernandez: What Could Have Been

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Having worked in Major League Baseball off and on for the majority of my life I can tell you that no one is more shocked than the family of Baseball with the tragic passing of Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez.  From February until September you are together with your teammates on a daily basis.  Guys from all different backgrounds learn to get along, learn each others culture and most importantly learn to trust and count on each other.

I held a few different positions in baseball during my time, I was a bat boy for the Atlanta Braves, I was a Video Coordinator for the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers and the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals.  I have made life long friendships that cannot be replaced.  It is going to take the Miami Marlins and all of Major League Baseball a long time to get past this tragedy.

Marlins Were Headed In The Right Direction

Jose Fernandez was not only the ace of the Marlins but he was arguably the best young pitcher in baseball.  He reminded me of Felix Hernandez more and more every time he took the mound.  He made hitters look over matched with his great fastball and chageup command.

The Marlins future looked so bright with Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton, it looked like they had the best combination of hitter and pitcher in baseball.  I was so eager to see both of them healthy for a full season and see if Fernandez could win the Cy Young and Stanton the MVP in the same season; it would have been something to see.

Fernandez played the game with joy and enthusiasm, sometimes that enthusiasm rubbed his opponents the wrong way.  Just ask Brian McCann of the Yankees, while he was the Atlanta Braves catcher Fernandez in his final start of his rookie season “pimped” his first career home run.  There had been some smack talking during the game between Fernandez and several Atlanta Braves.

 

Fernandez Always Kept Things Interesting

Fernandez relished in the smack talking, he loved getting into his opponents heads, it wasn’t enough that he had a plus 95 MPH fastball at the time.  The benches cleared after Fernandez took a long Rickey Henderson type trot around the bases.  Brian McCann lit into Fernandez verbally as Fernandez approached home plate and then all hell broke loose.

After the dust settled and the game was over Fernandez apologized not only to his teammates but to the Atlanta Braves and also to America.  See the day all of that happened was September 11, 2013 and Fernandez was quoted as saying “I had a good year, and it ends up like this, on a day like today, which is really important to all American people; It’s something that is not right, and I’m embarrassed by it.”

 

Finally Started To Get It

Fernandez knew the importance of the day and the impact of his actions, he started to get “it”.  He set up a meeting with McCann after the game in the tunnel of the stadium to clear the air and let McCann know that the emotions of the game had gotten the better of him.

That bad looking situation helped him gain the respect of his peers as he handled it like a seasoned pro behind closed doors and without the media involvement.  Fernandez could have continued to act like a cocky kid and said some things that would have done nothing to cement his reputation among his peers but he took the high road and handled it like a man.

Jose Fernandez’s love and enthusiasm for the game will be truly missed, we can all only wonder what could have been?  R.I.P. Jose Fernandez baseball needed you and will miss you.

Miami Marlins

Derek Jeter Discusses Project Wolverine Plan For Miami Marlins

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Miami Marlins CEO and part-owner Derek Jeter has taking a beating publicly since taking over the team as fans have slammed the new regime for their cost-shedding moves.

However, Jeter sees the franchise becoming profitable as soon as this season, according to documents obtained by the Miami Herald.

Project Wolverine, a nod to Jeter’s native Michigan, is Jeter’s attempt to prove to potential investors that the franchise will turn a profit immediately.

How?

Decreased payroll coupled with increased revenue from ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and a revamped local TV deal, as well as a one-time payout of $50 million that each MLB franchise will receive this season, will carry the moribund franchise to profitability, according to the Miami Herald’s report.

The Marlins have shed $36 million from their 2018 payroll in the 1st phase of Project Wolverine.

“I can’t sit here and say trust me,” Jeter told Marlins fans during a heated and emotional town hall meeting back in December.

“You don’t know me. You earn trust over time. I know how organizations are sustainable over time. I know you have been through a lot. I can’t relate to it. It’s going to be a tough road. It’s going to take time and effort.”

The Herald outlines a number of hurdles that may stand in the way of Jeter’s lofty goals.

“We are going to invest in building this organization the right way so we can, year in and year out, be able to compete,” Jeter said back in December.

“We are trying to fix something that is broken.”

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Miami Marlins

Bashing Together In DC: The Nationals Should Go All-In For Stanton

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Since moving to Washington, D.C. the Nationals have been one of baseball’s more aggressive franchises.  Under the ownership of Ted Lerner they have never been shy about making the bold moves necessary to bring a winning team to the nation’s capital.

They have signed Max Scherzer to what was then the largest free agent contract ever given to a pitcher.

The handed Stephen Strasburg a $175 million extensions to avoid the open market and stay in D.C.

Along with everyone else they had on the books in 2017 the Nationals exceeded the luxury tax for the first time. 

And yet, NOW is the time for the franchise to go ALL-IN!

The upcoming season represents a make or break year for the franchise—or at least a transition year.  They have won 95+ games in four of the last six seasons, yet haven’t made it passed the division series.

The 2019 team could be vastly different.  They stand to lose several veterans including franchise player Bryce Harper, offensive standout Daniel Murphy, starter Gio Gonzalez, and shutdown setup reliever Ryan Madson to free agency.   

While the Nationals’ farm system is well-prepared to restock the major league team, prospects, no matter how highly touted, are never sure things.  Washington needs to operate as if 2018 is their best (and only) chance to win a World Championship. 

They need to cash in their chips, go all-in, and make the Marlins an offer they can’t refuse. 

The Nationals NEED to get Giancarlo Stanton. 

On the surface the idea seems ludicrous.  Trading for Stanton, especially from division rival Miami, would require a massive haul of prospects.  Washington would likely be able to hang onto prize prospect Victor Robles, but anyone else would be up for grabs for the Marlins.

Then there’s Stanton’s contract to consider.  His salary alone would blow their budget, pushing Washington deeper into the luxury tax than ever before.  It would be an extremely expensive transaction to make. 

But only for one year.  Following the 2018 season the Nationals clear more than $65 million from their books, and likely would escape from a third consecutive season. 

Nearly a third of those dollars belong to Harper, who undoubtedly will leave Washington for much greener pastures.  That is why acquiring Stanton NOW, despite all the hurdles, makes so much sense.  It would be a preemptive strike, aiming at keeping their window of contention wide-open.

Either Stanton or Harper can man left-field for a year, and together they could mash their way into bringing that elusive World Championship back the D.C.  Then when Harper leaves Stanton can slide into the face-of-the-franchise role.

It would be a huge risk.  It might backfire.  The cost in prospects is going to sting.  And for years the Nationals have been robbing Peter to pay Paul, deferring tens of millions of dollars.

Regardless of how their TV contract/lawsuits go, those bills are going to come do.  And it could bankrupt the franchise.  But that’s not enough of a reason to not bring the game’s best slugger to the nation’s capital. 

A parade down Pennsylvania Avenue would look pretty sweet next fall, and help everyone forget about the cost. 

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Miami Marlins

Derek Jeter Fronts Group Set To Purchase Miami Marlins

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As first reported by The Miami Herald on Friday, a source confirmed that Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria agreed to sell the team to a group led by Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman for $1.2 billion.

Sherman, 69, is a wealthy New York businessman who’s building a home in South Florida. He’ll be the “control person” of the group while Jeter, 43, will serve as CEO running the business and baseball operations.

NBA legend Michael Jordan, 54, was reported to be another investor in the group—it’s no secret that him and Jeter are very close friends.

According to The Miami Herald, there are “about” 16 investors in the Jeter/Sherman group with Jeter “believed to be” contributing $25 million of his own money.

Loria, 76, has been the owner of the Marlins franchise since February 12, 2002. Since winning the 2003 World Series to Jeter and the New York Yankees, the team hasn’t made a single playoff appearance. In addition, they haven’t had a winning year since 2009.

The Miami Herald reported in December 2016 about Loria’s willingness to a potential sale. A purchase agreement with Jeter’s group was completed on Friday after several months and sent to the MLB offices in New York.

According to MLB.com, Loria’s preference from the beginning of the process was to complete the sale to a group that included Jeter.

A vote is the final step for completion of the sale, which is expected to take place in October between owners of other MLB teams.

What a big step this is for Jeter, as he joins a large and growing list of professional athletes turned owners. The future 2020 first-ballot MLB Hall of Famer—and possibly first ever unanimous vote to the Hall—can definitely turn this Marlins franchise around with the knowledge and experience he brings.

Jeter’s 3,465 career hits are the sixth most in Major League history, spanning a 20-year career with the Yankees from 1995-2014.

Here’s a look at his other Hall of Fame credentials:

Wikipedia screenshot

Will Jeter look to rebuild the Marlins, or build around a talented young core that includes the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna? It will be interesting to see what Jeter does with the franchise going forward.

With Monday night’s win, Miami improved to 57-60 on the year.

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