Derek Jeter’s low-key approach is right fit for Marlins teardown

Derek Jeter’s low-key approach is right fit for Marlins teardown

Derek Jeter will pass on his first chance to be an enemy in The Bronx, and that continues what has been a good run, relatively speaking, for the Yankees icon.

Why should the Marlins’ CEO accompany his tanking club to this quick, two-game series against the Yankees? It would represent a pure ego trip, and while no one would dispute that Jeter possesses the self-importance to match his massive accomplishments, he’s not the type to derive pleasure from a class reunion, his prom-king status notwithstanding.

No, Jeter will best help the Marlins by focusing on his current job. Actually, in the richest of ironies, Jeter — whose name and brand are synonymous with winning — has done his finest work while his big-league team loses like crazy.

After a highly turbulent beginning to his new gig, Jeter, by accounts inside and outside the organization, is letting the baseball people conduct their business. Which represents a significant contrast from his predecessors at Marlins Park.

The Marlins bring a lousy 4-11 record into Yankee Stadium, and it’ll be tough for manager Don Mattingly, Jeter’s Monument Park co-resident, to try to outwit the Yankees’ machetes with his Swiss Army knife of a team. Beneath this ugly veneer, however, the real future grinds away.

Gary Denbo, Jeter’s first professional manager (with the 1992 Gulf Coast Yankees), operates out of the Marlins’ minor league headquarters in Jupiter, Fla., as vice president of player development and scouting, attempting to make the Marlins as proficient in churning out young talent as the Yankees became with him running their minor league complex.

Known for his attention to every last detail (like his former boss George Steinbrenner), Denbo has done everything from hire a new analytics staff to revamp the process by which other organizations’ players are scouted to upgrading the receptionist’s desk at the Jupiter complex.

On the business side, Jeter made an acclaimed hire in Chip Bowers, formerly with the Golden State Warriors, as president of business operations. The Marlins’ innovation of announcing each home game’s “tickets sold,” rather than “attendance,” serves as a nice touch reflecting Jeter’s aversion to nonsense.

And little nonsense exists in a teardown. The young players learn. The old superiors teach, scout and institute a culture. The couple of times I saw the Marlins in spring training, they seemed calm — and relieved that this plan would be in place for a while. No one doubted the passion of Jeffrey Loria, the man who sold the Marlins to Jeter and his money man Bruce Sherman, but Loria’s impatience and impetuousness, seconded by team president David Samson, created a culture of chaos. Jeter asked for patience from the remaining fans as he gutted the team, and now he’ll be patient as the team sets a new course.

There of course exists no guarantee that any of this will work. The shipping of Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees created questions over this group’s financial might — if the Marlins had agreed to take back Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract to offset the Stanton costs, they surely would have received better prospects, too — and Jeter’s proficiency at this position. It’s amazing both Stanton and his agent, the respected Joel Wolfe, have repeatedly, publicly accused Jeter of threatening Stanton that he’d be a Marlin for life if he didn’t accept a trade to the Giants or Cardinals.

In the present, though, Jeter has earned a sliver of credit. And it’s worth noting, too, with Jackie Robinson Day having just passed, how Jeter’s presence in such a big chair — one historically dominated by white men — can inspire youngsters of color.

“I haven’t actually been to a game since he’s been in ownership, but I’m thrilled,” Sharon Robinson, Jackie’s daughter, said Sunday at Citi Field. “He’s going to have a hard little time there for a while. Miami’s a tough market. But I know he will do well. I believe in him.”

The less we see of Jeter at the moment, no matter how many losses pile up, the easier it is to believe in him.

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar
wpDiscuz