The Marlins and Fox Sports Florida dropped TV analyst Tommy Hutton on Monday, a move that elicited a flood of Marlins-bashing on Twitter.
Hutton — whose lively personality, candor and willingness to criticize made him popular with viewers — was the team’s TV analyst for the past 19 seasons. He said the Marlins and Fox gave him no explanation for why they aren’t renewing his contract.
“All I got was, ‘We’ve made a decision to go in another direction,’ ” he said. “They insisted it wasn’t about budget. I was surprised and shocked the way it was handled given the fact it was two months into the offseason and a couple days before Thanksgiving.”
The Marlins have had only two TV analysts in their 23-year history: Hutton, 69, and deceased former All-Star Gary Carter, who held the job for the team’s first four seasons.
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“I am thankful to have worked 51 years in this game,” he said. “I am thankful to have spent the last 19 doing Marlins baseball.
“I am in no way thinking about retiring. I still love the game, still have passion, still have energy.”
The Marlins declined to explain the decision.
P.J. Loyello, the team’s senior vice president/communications and broadcasting, said only: “It was a mutual decision between Fox and the ballclub, and we decided to go in a different direction.”
The team has not targeted a replacement for Hutton.
A search will begin shortly.
The Marlins said they plan to retain TV play-by-play voice Rich Waltz and radio announcers Dave Van Horne and Glenn Geffner.
Marlins executives David Samson and Michael Hill said recently that Scott Boras, the agent for pitcher Jose Fernandez, would not be included in discussions about how many innings Fernandez would pitch next season in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery.
But MLB Network’s Peter Gammons reported Monday that Boras and Hill, among others, recently participated in a three-hour conference call to discuss the usage plan for Fernandez for next season.
Hill said recently that he intended to discuss the issue with doctors and that the preference would be to adjust Fernandez’s innings during the season, if needed, as opposed to entering the season with a strict innings limit.
Fernandez was 6-1 in 11 starts last season after returning from the elbow surgery in July.