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Olney: What should Derek Jeter do in the Marlins' front office?

From ESPN - August 13, 2017

There have been more twists in the sale of the Marlins than in a season of "Game of Thrones," with plenty of perceived villains and heroes. So, until the financing of the proposed sale of the franchise is fully examined and approved by Major League Baseball, Derek Jeter and the money men who aspire to own the Marlins will have to wait.

But if the deal is completed -- if -- Jeter will assume the role of chief executive officer, in charge of business and baseball operations, despite having had no practical experience or formal training for that position.

He has been a success at pretty much everything he has done in his life, from playing shortstop to performing in the World Series to hosting "Saturday Night Live" to serving as a pitchman for some of the countrys largest companies. But trying to pump life into a dormant franchise in Miami might be the greatest challenge he has ever faced -- so great, rival executives say, that theres a real chance that nobody can overcome all of the Marlins problems.

With that in mind, some advice for Jeter, based on some input from officials and evaluators involved in baseball.

1. Jeter must rebrand the franchise entirely and work to distinguish it from the Marlins toxic past. The bottom line is that some fans in Miami have stayed away from the Marlins because of the actions of Jeffrey Loria, who stripped down the team repeatedly to minimum payrolls, even after the team moved into a taxpayer-funded ballpark.

Jeter and the owners he will work for need to do everything they can to separate the new Marlins from the old Marlins -- different colors, a different logo, the construction of relationships in the community, even the deconstruction of the home run sculpture in left-center field, which has become a symbol of Lorias ownership.

The more that I think about it, said one marketing type, blowing up that home run display might be a cathartic thing for the fan base. Its got to go, and quickly.

Heres the other part of this: Jeter needs to execute this shift quickly, from the first day he takes over. The longer he waits to build a wall between the old Marlins and the new Marlins is lost opportunity, because after Jeters group takes over, he will gradually lose the attention of fans. He has a finite amount of time to reset the image of the Marlins in Miami.

2. Jeter should keep Giancarlo Stanton. Squeezing Stantons rising salary will be extremely difficult over the next decade, because hes owed $295 million. There is a reasonable argument to be made that, for the incoming owners, it would be better if the outgoing owners dumped Stanton early in the offseason, to clear the payroll (and debt).

The problem is that from this day forward, any move will be seen in the publics eye as the responsibility of Jeter and the new owners, and the trade of Stanton, the teams monster slugger and face of the franchise, will be perceived as business as usual for the franchise. As Jeter works to rebrand the team, he cant unload Stanton.

3. Jeter needs to seek out the advice of former star players who have gone on to run teams -- Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, John Elway, etc. Initially, Jordan was very hands-on in basketball decisions, and he demonstrated he wasnt very good at it. Johnson doesnt have a lot of experience yet to draw on, but he has run other businesses. Elway built a Super Bowl winner. If Jeter makes these calls, hell get a lot of thoughts.

4. Jeter should hire really talented front-office types and then get out of the way. It used to be that a lot of general managers were former players, and some had success. But in this analytics-driven era, almost all of the vice presidents and general managers of baseball operations have years of training in negotiations and assessing players and their value. Jeter will know far more about playing shortstop and getting hits than his front-office peers, but he will be out of his element in building organizational talent, weighing player data and assigning appropriate meaning.

And besides, Jeters greatest potential value to the Marlins isnt about seeing games in Class A and identifying a trade target; he can hire people who are really good at that.

No, Jeter will be worth most to the Marlins in being Derek Jeter -- welcoming possible advertisers in meetings, wooing potential season-ticket holders, making appearances and leading conversations for the clubs broadcasters.

John Executive could walk into a room of Miami residents and discuss the turnaround of the franchise, and after three minutes, a lot of eyes will be glazing over. But if Jeter does it -- posing for selfies and signing autographs along the way -- he could be turn out to be as big of a draw as any player.

5. Jeter will need to manage up. Jeter would be the most prominent and recognizable face of the Marlins, but the fact is that the real power belongs to the guys who write the biggest checks. While Jeter will be happily embraced by MLB as its only African-American owner, he will have to answer to others in a way that he hasnt for most of his adult life.

From the time Jeter reached the big leagues, his managers -- Joe Torre, Joe Girardi -- catered to him, because of his talent as a player. The Yankees sometimes deferred to him because of his star power. When Jeter started The Players' Tribune, he was held up as The Boss because, well, he is Derek Jeter.

But now, Jeter will work for owners who might be asking hard questions in a few years if the community doesnt respond and the team continues to hemorrhage millions of dollars. This is not something to which hes necessarily accustomed. Its one thing to go in an 0-for-18 slump and answer reporters questions about your swing, but its a whole other dynamic if situations arise in which your bosses are wondering about your strategy.

If the Marlins business goes really badly, then being Derek Jeter wont necessarily be regarded as a weapon; rather, it might be viewed as a potential liability, because he hasnt run a franchise before. If the Marlins business goes badly, he may not get the benefit of the doubt.

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