There were a couple of peculiar aspects about Jeb Bush’s decision to announce at a Los Angeles convention on Tuesday that former Yankees great Derek Jeter will head the Marlins’ baseball operations department:
• A) Bush and Jeter have been unable to close on non-binding handshake deal to buy the Marlins, and now a group led by Tagg Romney has every much a chance to purchase the team as Bush and Jeter do.
• B) Jeter, despite his impeccable reputation and Hall of Fame-caliber career, has never shown much interest in watching baseball games, according to published reports.
From Joel Sherman’s New York Post column on Sunday:
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“Here is the oddity Jeter might have to work most to explain: He was a man who all but bragged that he never watched baseball, and now he wants to buy one of the 30 teams at a moment when Commissioner Rob Manfred is obsessed with getting people to watch the sport.
“Jeter mentioned his distaste for watching baseball many times during his career. As an example, in his book “The Yankee Years,” Tom Verducci relates that the baseball-infatuated A-Rod was at Jeter’s apartment and was stunned Jeter did not have the MLB TV package. Mike Borzello, the Yankees’ bullpen catcher at the time, witnessed the exchange.
“It was just so funny because Derek will never watch a baseball game other than the one he’s playing in,” Borzello said. “They’re just complete opposites. I remember Alex’s reaction to it was like, ‘How is that possible?’ ”
One source in contact with the Bush group said Jeter wants to be in position to hire the key people in the Marlins’ baseball operations department and actively involved in operations but has shown no interest in scouting a lot of games and hasn’t said how involved he plans to be in trade decisions.
But if Bush buys the team – and then Jeter replaces Michael Hill as the man running baseball operations – the former Yankees great might want to subscribe to MLB’s out-of-market TV package, at the very least.
A few other Marlins notes:
• One person briefed on Bush bid said there isn’t much of a local presence in Bush’s investor group beyond Bush, with Bush going outside the market in his search for deep-pocketed partners.
• Though Bush has repeatedly told friends, associates and the Marlins that he has the money to complete the purchase, his frantic search for investors suggests otherwise.
Not only have three South Florida residents said that Bush has continued to look for money in the past week, but Bloomberg’s Scott Sosnick reported Tuesday night that Jeter and Bush “seeking capital,” are “in advanced talks to have Quogue Capital's [Wayne] Rothbaum” join their group.
Rothbaum expressed initial interest in buying the Marlins but did not believe the team was worth more than $1 billion, according to an associate.
• Prominent real estate developer Armando Codina, friend of Bush, conveyed through his spokesman today that he won’t invest in the Marlins: “I'm a fan of Jeb and the Marlins. I hope Jeb and Derek succeed in buying the team; it would be good for Miami. I mostly invest in things that I know and preferably control, and this simply doesn't fall within my investment parameters.”
• MLB is in the process of vetting a list of investors submitted by Bush and Romney. The initial belief, according to one person briefed, is that there might be a bit more confidence in Romney’s investors, but the source cautioned that won’t be become fully clear until the investors are fully explored and this sale could go either way.
That means MLB is not only checking into the investors’ backgrounds, but making sure that they definitely plan to invest, not merely consider it.
• Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, appearing on Joe Rose’s show on WQAM-560 on Wednesday, said he’s rooting for the Bush group.
Gimenez said he didn’t learn of Romney’s reemergence into the race until he read the newspaper on Wednesday.
“The last I spoke with Jeb, there are still some things to be ironed out, but he seemed pretty confident he could get that done,” Gimenez told Rose and Curtis Stevenson. “I hope they get it done and get it done as quickly as possible….. Eventually, Loria will cash out and we’ll see who the new ownership group is.”
• Among 56 National League starting pitchers, nobody has held batters to a lower average than the Marlins’ Dan Straily, at .183. But Straily, like every Marlins starting pitcher, has an earned-run average over 4.00, one reason why the Marlins’ starters ERA is 29th in baseball at 4.95.
Batters are hitting .295 off Tom Koehler and .273 off Edinson Volquez. Adam Conley’s 6.86 ERA ranks 160th among starters. Wei Yin Chen had a 4.33 ERA but three of his five starts have been very good and batters are hitting .225 off him.
Please check back throughout the day; I’ll have four more newsy posts. And please check out my story from late Tuesday night with some eye-opening comments about Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.