The Wednesday buzz column -- including a candid one-on-one with Chad Johnson - is below.
First, in the wake of the Hanley Ramirez trade to the Dodgers, here's a late Wednesday afternoon update on what Marlins president David Samson told Herald colleague Dan Le Batard on his weekly 790 The Ticket radio show:
### Samson, asked whether the salaries purged by dumping Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante will be re-allocated on other players, was non-committal: "We're not even thinking about next year. None of that is the focus. Now we're going to figure out what we have to do to win more games.... There is no cash being pocketed."
### Samson, asked whether the jobs of Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill are in jeopardy, paused for a few seconds, then said: "Everybody is being evaluated at the end of the year. [Owner Jeffrey Loria] does this every year from me down to the traveling secretary."
### Are the Marlins now building around Josh Johnson or is he on the trading block? "Nobody is on the trading block," Samson said. But... "If someone overwhelms us with something that makes us win more games, of course you make that trade."
### Samson, on what the Marlins have done the last 72 hours: "This is not a fire sale. This is saying: Mediocrity really isn't good enough. We're not trying to be a .500 team. We're trying to be much better. We want to win games and we think this is the better way to win games.
"The pitcher we got from the Dodgers [Nathan Eovaldi] will go into our rotation. We wanted to get a pitcher back that would go into our rotation. Hanley is a .240 hitter the last couple years, and I love Hanley. We wanted to build around him, but it wasn't happening. What people think of Hanley is not the reality. We were looking to get better because we were not winning with him. It's time to try to see if we can try to win without him.
"The baseball people... said having Hanley Ramirez hitting .240 is not helping us win. We went seven years with Hanley being the center of our team. We didn't make the playoffs. He can't be the center any more."
### On this season going horribly wrong: "What we said is we simply were wrong. The players we thought would be better weren't. It's not the world's greatest mystery. We didn't think they would win in 2013."
### Looking for behind-the-scenes insight into the Ramirez trade? You weren't going to get it on Wednesday's episode of Showtime's reality series on the Marlins.
Instead of re-editing parts of the show Wednesday to incorporate the Ramirez trade, Showtime gave the topic less than 20 seconds at the end of the show - spending far more time on Edward Mujica's family life (are you kidding me?); the friendship between Mujica and Ryan Webb; and a fluff-filled vignette on Ozzie Guillen's marriage - a segment that could have been held for a later episode.
Showtime promised more on Ramirez next Wednesday, but the topic will be far less relevant in a week. The show's producers should have adjusted to the news by making changes to the episode in the 19 hours between the completion of the Ramirez trade and the time it went to air. That's not a lot of time, but editing in a couple minutes of reaction to the trade could have been done.
It was an embarrassing moment for a program that Showtime producers promised would be "ground-breaking."
### Also Wednesday, Olivier Vernon and Michael Egnew signed with the Dolphins, leaving only Ryan Tannehill unsigned.
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
With training camp opening Friday, Dolphins receiver Chad Johnson is changing more than merely his name. He has reverted to the flamboyant personality, the relentless offseason worker, who flourished in Cincinnati before what the Dolphins hope was an aberrational 15-catch season in New England.
After changing his name back from Ochocinco, Johnson told us Monday: “This season is going to be a monster year. I don’t care who’s playing quarterback. I’m going to have a great year. The first day I get to camp, everybody’s mouth can drop [the bleep] open. My game is at the point where it doesn’t matter who starts at quarterback. Oprah can play quarterback and we’ll be all right.”
He’s so convinced he will be celebrating routinely this season that he plans to send Commissioner Roger Goodell a check for $100,000 “right after the last preseason game” to pay for anticipated regular-season fines, though he says he will be careful to avoid excessive celebration penalties. (That can be done by delaying the celebration and doing it on the sideline.)
"I’m going back to my normal ways,” he vowed after a photo shoot for Zico Coconut Water. “My normal ways, when I was at my best, when I got fined, look at the production those years. Usually things don’t go right when you try to change the way you do things. I’m back to normal.
“My personality was controlled last year. You didn’t hear me at all last year. Zero. Zilch. When my mouth is running, it forces me to perform. It’s never been vindictive. I never got anybody in trouble.
“One of the things I like about being here, that’s so refreshing, and is such a weight off my back, is I can be me, whatever that entails. When I can be me, I am loose. Everything just flows for me. Whether it’s the style of play, the way I learn.”
Besides getting married and starring on a VHI reality show, Johnson, 34, sharpened his skills during a grueling 10-day program with mentor Charlie Collins, a former assistant with the 49ers and Bengals.
“Do you want to be honest? Do you want to know why my numbers dropped?” he said. “It’s because I got complacent, I got somewhat comfortable thinking I had the formula and could do it on my own.
“I know how I’ve been to six Pro Bowls. It’s Charles [bleeping] Collins. Case closed. My preparation with him, before the season started, is what got me to Pro Bowls. Getting back with him has me mentally prepared to be the same again.
“People base it off numbers. My numbers last year would tell everyone this [expletive] is done. But there’s nothing wrong with me physically. You will see with your own eyes. You will see the speed, the quickness. It’s ridiculous. I’m willing to do whatever I have to do, race [speedy receiver] Clyde Gates, whatever.”
Asked about reports that he failed to completely learn the Patriots offense, he said, “The stuff that I do well, I do extremely well. The Pats know what I do well. You put that player in position to make those same plays he’s been making his whole career. It’s not rocket science.”
He said the Dolphins don’t need to tailor the offense for him “because I came in with what we have here and didn’t miss a beat. Picked it up like that,” he said, snapping his fingers.
“One of the things they like to say is, ‘How much does he have left in the tank – which is very dumb when it comes to me because I never ran on gas in the first place. I take care of my body. Don’t drink. Don’t do drugs. Training ridiculous. Gym rat. But I don’t want anyone to see that side. I want you to see the fun side, the [expletive] talking side.”
What about criticism that his off-field antics create a distraction?
“That’s a distraction??? The tweeting?” he said incredulously. “My answer when people say that is, “Shut the bleep up.’ Be real! How many [NFL] arrests have we had this offseason? But my tweeting is an issue? Get an [expletive] life, people.’
“I’m the least of anybody’s worries,” noting the only time he broke the law was when “I stole a candy bar when I was eight, Snickers, King size. I didn’t complain once last year. Not once. I would be more surprised I wasn’t a distraction after last year’s [expletive] year. That’s what people should be talking about.”
He said he has choreographed celebrations for this season - more will be disclosed later - and he’s hoping that “anytime I score, not only am I celebrating, but fans have to follow along. Something real short: five, six seconds. There won’t be a penalty for that. It’s people in the stands, unless they want to fine an entire stadium! Once you stand up, you know what to do.”
Johnson said starting isn’t important to him and acknowledges, “I have to earn a roster spot, most definitely.” He said he “loves” Joe Philbin: “Very cool. He will tell you straight up what he expects out of you. [Offensive coordinator] Mike Sherman, same thing. The first thing coach Sherman said is ‘You put the team first. Everything else is going to be all right.”
He said he likes all the quarterbacks and doesn’t have a inkling for who will start. He hasn’t spoken to owner Steve Ross, a fellow Miami Beach High alum, but “he and I will meet at some point, have a cigar or two.”
Evelyn Lozada, who married Johnson on July 4, senses Chad’s determination to re-establish himself: “He’s happy. Yesterday he was in his car, singing, ‘I can’t wait.’ He’s beyond excited.”
Johnson puts it this way: “I had a few places I could have gone, which was pretty cool. It was important for me to be able to come home, close to my family, my kids, my grandma. With my focus the way it is now, it’s going to be good for both ends.”
### A source confirmed profootballtalk.com's report that the delay in signing Ryan Tannehill has resulted from the Dolphins' request for offset language that would get them off the hook for some of his salary if he's cut in his first four seasons. Of course, if he's released during that time, this regime might not be around to be concerned with that issue.
### An American League official said the Marlins’ asking price for Hanley Ramirez “has not been ridiculous. They’re looking for younger players.” Why are they suddenly open to dealing him? Besides the prolonged mediocre offensive play, several Marlins baseball people (both on field and off) have soured on him, with at least two endorsing a deal. [UPDATE: As most of you probably know, Ramirez and Randy Choate were traded in the middle of the night to the Dodgers for two pitchers.]
The AL official said the Marlins will at least listen on offers for anyone except Giancarlo Stanton, though they prefer to keep Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes.
### Though the Marlins want to fashion their moves as a restructuring and not a salary dump, there are serious second thoughts internally about last winter’s decision to have a $100 million payroll… There was no anger inside the Marlins’ clubhouse about Monday's trade of Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante, with one player saying it’s understandable because “we’re playing like [garbage].”
### Right-hander Jacob Turner, the top prospect acquired from Detroit, “could be a top half of the rotation guy,” one AL scout said. “Heavy sink on his ball, good breaking ball, good feel for pitching.” The Marlins aren’t concerned that he has given up 23 runs in 25 big-league innings because of the youth (21) and small sample size. MLB.com ranks him 10th among all big-league prospects.
### The NCAA has renewed efforts to try to get former UM players to corroborate Nevin Shapiro’s claims and has asked UM for help in contacting them. Predictably, the former UM players have been ignoring the NCAA’s calls. UM is in a tough spot, because it wants to cooperate with the NCAA but doesn’t want any former players giving credence to Shapiro’s allegations, either.
### Heat assistant and Summer League coach David Fizdale said rookie center Justin Hamilton “was a big surprise and raised eyebrows” in Summer League play and thought Miami’s “first thought” was stashing him in Europe, “guys are giving some thought” about whether to bring him to training camp instead.
As of Tuesday morning, with Pat Riley vacationing overseas, the Heat had not decided whether to sign a cheap veteran such as Darko Milicic or go with another developmental center such as Mickell Gladness or Hamilton.