The baseball hot stove was officially sparked and engulfed in flames this weekend when the Miami Marlins decided to trade reigning National League MVP and certifiable Large Adult Son Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees, of all places. Stanton, who hit 59 home runs last season, joins a Yankees lineup that includes Aaron Judge, the reigning Rookie of the Year and runner-up in American League MVP voting who hit 52 of his own. Derek Jeter, a minority owner and CEO of the Marlins, has taken a lot of flack for the deal.
The criticism of Jeets has been twofold. First, the deal stinks (figuratively) because of his connection to the New York Yankees. Second, the deal stinks (literally) because the Marlins traded the game's best power hitter to an organization already loaded with young talent—both major-league-ready and prospects—and got a very well-respected bag of balls in return.
Neither of those two things are truly Jeter's fault, however. Bruce Sherman, Miami's majority owner, is driving this train and wants to cut payroll. That's because Major League Baseball approved a sale to a group that could not afford the team. Jeets, as face of the franchise, is tasked with running the fire sale. The problem is, Stanton's contract is such that only a handful of teams could afford to absorb it, and Stanton also had a full no-trade clause. It soon became clear that the Yankees were the only option, and so they took the no-brainer deal.
Where Jeets does deserve criticism, however, is that he is not Front Office-ing the Right Way. While he is in the process of dismantling the team, MLB's winter meetings are taking place up the interstate in Orlando. Owners, GMs, and executives all RSVP in hopes of wheeling and dealing. And since every head honcho from every organization generally attends, every member of the baseball media attends, too.
So, guess who didn't show up?
Jeter has always skated by thanks to an otherworldly start to his career—Rookie of the Year, multiple World Series, and the start of a "Yankee Dynasty," all within his first four seasons—as well as a meticulously antiseptic media presence. He never once said a bad thing, or any thing for that matter, and he was revered for his perfect image. Winner. Good Guy. Did It The Right Way.
His start in the ownership ranks has been just the opposite of that. He's a mere 4 percent stakeholder in the Marlins, a loser franchise. He fired what amount to Miami Marlins legends in Jack McKeon and Jeff Conine; most callously, he also fired a longtime scout while he was recovering from colon cancer surgery. And now he can't even show up to the winter meetings and provide some accountability to Marlins fans who just saw the only good reason to pay attention to the team for the next eight years shipped off to the fucking Yankees for loose change.
Sportswriters have long praised ballplayers—Jeter chief among them—simply for showing up in the locker room every day and answering questions. Those who don't are often labelled distractions to the team. It's easy to be a good guy when things are going good. When the shit hits the fan, that's when your true character shines.
This is who Jeter really is. It's not the Mr. Perfect Yankee image he so closely protected in New York. Even then there were cracks, especially when his pride was at stake—he should never have been the shortstop with Alex Rodriguez on the team, for instance. But with such a poor track record in such a short time period, and a refusal to stand in front of his proverbial locker, Derek Jeter has become something no one would have predicted: a distraction.