Derek Jeter: Marlins still wouldn’t have been successful if club had signed Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish

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On Wednesday, Tom Verducci published a feature on Sports Illustrated centered around Marlins part owner Derek Jeter. Jeter has been a lightning rod for criticism since he and Bruce Sherman purchased the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria. Along with trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, and Dee Gordon, Jeter has had a hand in giving Jack McKeon, Jeff Conine, and Andre Dawson the pink slip. Jeter was also involved in the firing of a scout who was receiving treatment for colon cancer.

Verducci mentions the myriad controversies but they are quickly brushed aside with a Jeter quote, usually condescending in nature. For example, Verducci wonders if the Marlins might have been competitive had the club kept Stanton et. al. instead of trading them, and went out and signed free agent starters Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish. Jeter said, “When we were at the town hall, one of the fans said, ‘All you needed to do was sign to pitchers.’ I said, ‘Okay, who are those two pitchers?’ He couldn’t answer. You could have added two pitchers to this team and they still wouldn’t have won.” Verducci suggests Arrieta and Darvish, to which Jeter responds, “No. They still wouldn’t have won. So you just dig a bigger hole, and eventually you have to get out of it. That’s a lot of work.”

Eno Sarris of FanGraphs countered Jeter’s claim quite well:

Sarris added to his response, “Even if you’re being more conservative and just give them 14 or 15 wins, they’re above .500.” Presently, FanGraphs projects the Marlins to put up the second-worst record in baseball at 68-94, just ahead of the 65-97 White Sox.

The NL East doesn’t seem like it be highly competitive. FanGraphs projects the Nationals at 91-71, the Mets at 81-81, the Braves at 75-87, and the Phillies at 74-88. With 57 games scheduled against intradivision opponents projected to be .500 or worse, the Marlins would’ve been legitimate Wild Card contenders at minimum if the club had signed a pair of free agent pitchers. And they need not be Arrieta and Darvish specifically; Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn would have sufficed as well.

As Verducci notes, Jeter and Sherman assumed $400 million in debt in acquiring the Marlins. Winning games is incidental to keeping the organization in the black, especially in this case. Jeter’s Marlins are the prime example of what’s wrong in baseball right now and why the free agent market was completely stagnant between the end of the World Series and now, just a few days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training.

There are a lot of other mystifying quotes from Jeter in Verducci’s column, but his claim that the Marlins wouldn’t have been competitive with the likes of Arrieta and Darvish really sticks out. Jeter’s squeaky clean image has certainly taken a hit in the last few months, that’s for sure.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 5-3, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closed out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before 15-game winner Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).