Derek Jeter owns five World Series rings, which may be the reason agent Scott Boras had jewelry on his mind when discussing the Miami Marlins' new ownership.
Boras said Jeter and his group are turning the Marlins into a pawn shop.
It was yet another jab at the Marlins' direction under new CEO Jeter, who continued the team's payroll purge Wednesday by trading outfielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Speaking at baseball's winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Boras said Jeter inherited a team with a strong foundation of young players that needed only more pitching to become a title contender. Boras said the group that bought the team should have been more carefully vetted to prevent the dismantling, which included trading major league home-run king Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees.
"You would hope that … MLB would screen the ownership so that we have an ownership that comes in and provides additions," Boras said. Instead, "they come in and they redirect, so you're not a jewelry store that's coveting your diamonds, you now become the pawn shop that is trying to pay the rent of the building, rather than focusing on the diamonds and growth that you covet."
In contrast to Boras, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he's excited about the direction of the franchise, which hasn't had a winning season since 2009. Mattingly defended his new boss, and predicted Jeter will improve as a baseball executive, just as he improved at shortstop.
"Derek may be the first to admit, `Hey, I would do some things maybe a little differently,"' Mattingly said. "I don't know that. But I look back to Derek's first year in pro ball. He makes 58 errors -- 50-something errors -- at shortstop, and we know what happened after that."
Jeter actually committed 56 errors at Single-A Greensboro in 1993, his second pro season. He went on to become a 14-time All-Star.
Mattingly anticipates that Jeter will approach his new job the same way he approached his last one.
"He has got a lot on his plate, a lot going on, a lot happening very fast," said Mattingly, who played with Jeter on the Yankees and later coached him. "But I fully expect any adjustments that he has to make or that he thinks he has to make, we're just going to move forward. We're not going to look back. We're going to keep our eye on the prize and where we're going, and we'll make the adjustments as an organization."
Detractors say Jeter's group overpaid for the Marlins and is underfinanced. Boras said that's the reason the group is cutting payroll.
Jeter also has drawn criticism for skipping this week's winter meetings. Instead, he attended a Miami Dolphins game Monday night.
"With his stature as a player, people ask questions about his decision-making," Boras said. "I'm not clear that it is his decision-making. … You see an owner at an NFL game, something tells me that he's hired someone else to manage the construct of the team."
Jeter, however, has said he'll be hands-on with both baseball and business operations. And Mattingly, who is going into his third year as the Marlins' manager, said Jeter's plan for Miami will work.
"To know actually what our direction is, and to know that we're going to sustain that and we're going to build this organization from the bottom to the top, and it's going to be consistent and we're going to stay with it, it's an exciting time for me," he said. "We needed a reset. What we were trying to accomplish and the way we were doing it, trying to win, it just wasn't working."
AP Baseball Writers Ben Walker and Ronald Blum in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, contributed to this report.
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