Barry Jackson

Former Miami Marlins president gives his take on A-Rod, Bonds, Girardi and much more

Marlins president David Samson in February 2017. Samson addressed various topics in interviews with The Miami Herald and ESPN’s Dan Le Batard over the past several days.
Marlins president David Samson in February 2017. Samson addressed various topics in interviews with The Miami Herald and ESPN’s Dan Le Batard over the past several days. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Part 2 of a 3-part series

Former Marlins president David Samson, now unshackled by any contractual restraints, had a lot to say about a lot of things in tell-all interviews with the Miami Herald and Dan Le Batard’s radio show in recent days.

We covered some of them here in part 1 of the series, including revelations on Jorge Mas, Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton.

In part 2 of a three-part series, Samson tackles other topics, these from the Le Batard show:

On the Marlins’ one year with Barry Bonds as their hitting coach (2017), Samson told Le Batard’s show: “I’m trying to think if I ever had a worse hitting coach in my career than Barry Bonds. [Pause for comedic effect] Hold on. I’m thinking. No. You know why Magic Johnson was a bad coach? He didn’t have patience for people who didn’t see the court the way he saw it. Barry Bonds can’t teach hitting because he just hits.”

“You’ve got Stanton saying, ‘Two strikes, I’m bailing against a slider. I can’t lay off it, Barry.’ Barry says: ‘Don’t swing at it!’ That’s how the conversation goes.”

Samson said: “Jeffrey Loria very much wanted Barry Bonds to try to start his road back into baseball because Jeffrey was fond of him, and Barry got that opportunity.”

On the Marlins’ decision to fire Joe Girardi after a 78-84 season in 2005 that earned him National League manager of the year, Samson told Le Batard: “Five minutes before we fired him, Joe in front of the 1,200 fans who were at the game [at what’s now Hard Rock Stadium], said, ‘Sit the bleep down’ to the owner. That’s the biggest act of insubordination you could ever do.

“We had to fire him. It was the craziest day of all time. We fired him and then we had to re-hire him two hours later because we told the clubhouse we fired our manager and the clubhouse revolted. We went up to talk to Jeffrey to say please, let’s just keep him until the end of the year, let him win manager of the year and then we’ll fire him.

“I never wanted to hire Girardi. I knew at the opening press conference for Girardi that he was going to be a nightmare because he was much more focused on making sure all his demands were being met. We had no choice but to meet them because Jeffrey said we had to hire Girardi. We had to do nothing but say yes to everything he wanted, so we created this monster.”

Miami Marlins president David Samson discusses Dan Jennings being let go as manager during an end of season news conference Oct. 6, 2015 at Marlins Park.

He said the Marlins never pursued Alex Rodriguez as a player in the late stages of his career because “there was no possible way anyone could be worse for your team. The juice wasn’t worth his squeeze any more because he wasn’t a good player any more. We would have had the worst part. We would have had the circus without the parade.”

Samson noted that: “A-Rod wanted to be an owner, and Jeter wanted to be an owner. And I love the fact both wanted to be owners because they don’t like each other. So I would say stuff to Jeter’s camp like, ‘Hey, A-Rod is about to get this team.’ And I said to A-Rod, ‘you know Derek Jeter is about to own a team? You better up your bid by about $100 million in the next five minutes or Jeter is going to get the team.’”

Rodriguez has said he never made an attempt to buy the Marlins, though he reportedly considered it.

Asked why Fox Sports Florida and the Marlins dropped popular analyst Tommy Hutton in the year prior to the Marlins selling the team, Samson told Le Batard: “Tommy’s contract expired and he wanted too much money. I didn’t care at all [about his criticism of players]. The players were very unhappy. They would watch in the clubhouse with sound, which is very bizarre. Your broadcasters are part of the traveling party. They’re with the players all the time. I watch games on mute because I know what’s happening. I don’t need it described to me. But the players listen for criticism.”

Fox Sports Florida rehired Hutton as a studio analyst last summer at the request of the Marlins, after fans told the Marlins how much they missed him on the broadcasts. Hutton declined to respond to Samson’s comments.

Samson said former Marlins infield coach Perry Hill, who was dropped after the season and is now with the Seattle Mariners, would call up the official scorer during games “to try to get errors taken away from his infielders to add earned runs to his own pitchers so he could look better as an infield coach. It’s a disgrace.”

Hill did not respond to Samson’s comments.

Samson said Loria once told him that “if you appear on Le Batard’s [show] again, I am firing you for cause, which means you don’t get paid. So I love you, but not that much. His view was you manipulated me into telling you things I otherwise wouldn’t tell you. The joke of it always was it was me manipulating you when I wanted to get certain things out there.”

Samson has a segment on Le Batard’s show in which he talks about movies and baseball, but Loria forced Samson to cancel the segment during his ownership.

Samson called Marlins pitcher Wei Yin Chen “one of the top five worst signings ever.”

On Le Batard’s show, Samson said agent Scott Boras’ handling of Jose Fernandez’s death “was a joke. He stood up at that funeral and he had crocodile tears pretending he was crying talking about the great death file he has about his players. A death file? Really? You have a death file on your players? Except you don’t get insurance for them?... You didn’t advise him to put money away?

“And then you cry and don’t pay for anything — nothing, not the funeral. Jeffrey paid for everything — the funeral, the whole procession that Jose had. Jeffrey paid every dollar. MLB has life insurance on players, which the owners are allowed to keep when a player dies. Jeffrey took every penny that was given and gave it right to Penelope, [Fernandez’s] daughter, in an education trust.

“Where’s Boras? Not calling him. Why? Because Jose can’t make him money any more. He’s a nothing. He’s a lecherous agent who manipulates owners to giving contracts to his players that those players don’t deserve.

“Every time the owners get it wrong — every single time — and then we all do it again. It’s our fault. Boras can’t make an owner give Wei Yin Chen $80 million, but he sure knows how to manipulate. If you’re not a good player, he has no time for you. Once your player is on his team, that’s the end. You think he cares [Marlins pitcher and Boras client] Wei Yin Chen stinks? No.”

Boras declined to comment on the record about Samson’s comments, but Alex Morin — one of Boras’ top executives — said that he and Boras have remained in close contact with Fernandez’s family and said Boras’ tears at the funeral were genuine and that Fernandez’s mother asked Boras to speak at the funeral, which Boras did.

Boras pointed out that he has facilities in Florida and Arizona for his players to use free of charge, offering top-of-the line equipment and medical testing.

The Marlins also declined to comment on any of Samson’s comments.

Samson, who spent 16 years as Marlins president until October 2017, is now active on Twitter (@DavidPSamson) and works as a baseball analyst for CBS Sports HQ.

Coming Friday: Part 3 of the 3-part series, with Samson discussing the future of baseball in South Florida and the new ownership group.

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