South Florida was promised a baseball franchise that would finally be among the pack in payroll, be a competitive force year-to-year, and keep home-grown talent even when they started to get expensive.
How wrong we were, how big of a lie all Miami Marlins fans, the national media, and roster was dealt in recent days, weeks, and months.
Starting back in late July when the Marlins were a mere 7 1/2 games out of the 2nd Wild Card, they gave up by dealing second baseman Omar Infante and right-hander Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers for catcher Rob Brantly, right-hander Jacob Turner, and minor league pitcher Brian Flynn. The trade seemed reasonable, the Marlins dealt a soon-to-be free agent in Anibal Sanchez and added infielder Omar Infante to maximize the return. No harm done?
The series of baffling moves began with the trade or salary dump of converted third baseman Hanley Ramirez along with lefty specialist Randy Choate to the Los Angeles Dodgers for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and minor league pitcher Scott McGough. The thought process in the wake of this lopsided trade was simple, the Marlins were bound to reallocate the money from a subpar Ramirez to a better bat.
Fast forward to the end of the season, the Marlins finished a disappointing 69-93, about 20-25 wins off of their projection at the start of Spring Training and as such ownership took action by trading closer Heath Bell away and firing manager Ozzie Guillen and replacing him with the favorite Mike Redmond. Stop me if you have heard this before. Owner Jeffrey Loria firing yet another manager, and if you’re keeping count at home that’s five (Jeff Torborg, Joe Girardi, Fredi Gonzalez, Edwin Rodriguez, and Ozzie Guillen) since 2003, and I count Edwin Rodriguez who was bound to meet to same fate but beat them to the punch.
Owner Jeffrey Loria has infested the managerial position for the Marlins like an oil spill, no one would want to swim in these dark waters for a quick buck, not when Jaws is lurking underneath ready to attack anyway.
But this little mess has nothing on the latest disaster to hit the Marlins. On Tuesday, the Marlins pulled the trigger on a utterly shocking and massive blockbuster trade which saw shortstop Jose Reyes, left-hander Mark Buehrle, right-hander Josh Johnson, catcher John Buck and utility man Emilio Bonifacio head north of the border to the Toronto Blue Jays.
In exchange, the Marlins received a quartet of the Blue Jays’ top prospects — outfielder Jake Marisnick, left-hander Justin Nicolino, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. In addition, major league players going south included right-hander Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis, and shortstop Yunel Escobar.
In a move mimicking that to the Hanley Ramirez trade this was a pure salary dump. Adding insult to injury, the Blue Jays farm system wasn’t among the top 10 in baseball according to Baseball America but team president David Samson felt it was a bargain.
On Wednesday, Samson, explaining on a pre-taped segment on The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz on 790 The Ticket said: “While all sorts of different plans were possible. And it just so happens we found a way to possibly in one fell swoop get a whole lot better and get on the road to getting better.”
Or in Samsonese, “we found a way to dump these expensive players in order to put some more cash in our bank accounts, the Cayman Islands especially need some company after our recent spending spree.”
An NL scout on new #marlins shortstop Yunel Escobar: “This guy makes Hanley Ramirez look like Teammate of the Year.”
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 15, 2012
In the same interview, Samson said: ”I actually recognize the names coming back are not names people are familiar with.” Oh but apparently Samson falls under his own “people” category calling one of the returning players “Anderson Alvarez” instead of Henderson Alvarez during the taped segment with LeBatard. Well we can confirm Samson sure has been brushing up on “Talking Like Jack McKeon 101″, a hot new release by Rosetta Stone.
And Jeffrey Loria? He brushed off reporters at Chicago O’Hare Hyatt for owner meetings but told this to CBSSports’ Jon Heyman: ”We finished in last place, you figure it out…We have to get better. We can’t finish in last place. That’s unacceptable. We have to take a new course.”
And the new course was conducting was in essence a Ponzi Scheme to the South Florida community, trading the team’s best and most talented players and using the disappointing 69-93 record as an excuse to do so. The Marlins were in their first year at a publicly-funded retractable roof ballpark, the times where we knew it was a necessity to deal the priced out players, we thought those were history. Apparently not.
What this trade did was set the Marlins back on all facets, both on and off the field. The franchise is a national embarrassment and its reputation of fire sales will be with continue to be with them. The fan base is being eradicated like the population of Pripyat was in the wake of the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster. All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton voiced his displeasure with move changing his Marlins-laden avatar and tweeting:
Alright, I’m pissed off!!! Plain & Simple
— Giancarlo Stanton (@Giancarlo818) November 13, 2012
And that’s just the surface of it, in the wake of this trade Giancarlo Stanton’s chances of signing a long-term deal with the Marlins have gone from sky-high to the depths of the Mariana Trench. Still a few days removed from the deal, Giancarlo Stanton is still upset and David Samson hasn’t even phoned him to talk about it, thinking time will heal the wound, yeah right.
Stanton has since elaborated on his tweet by talking to MLB.com’s Peter Gammons:
“I do not like this at all,” Stanton said. “This is the ‘winning philosophy?’ Then to say it’s not about money? What is the motivation? There comes a breaking point. I know how I feel. I can’t imagine how the city and the fans feel. I had people warn me that something like this could happen, but it runs against the competitive nature every athlete has, that nature that everything is about winning. This kind of thing is what gets talked about all the time around this team. Former Marlins come back and they warn us. It gets talked about during the stretch, in the clubhouse, after games, on the road. Again, I do not like this at all.”
And what’s more, the Marlins apparently broke their promises to Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes about their long-term commitment to the club. In fact, according to FOXSports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Marlins broke their verbal promises to both regarding trades. Since the Marlins don’t award no-trade clauses, they decided to lie in order to close the deal between the two.
And again, it’s not like this was deep into either one of their deals, before the back-loaded figures kicked in. No sir, the Marlins cut the cord on their spending bonanza after three months and completely torched the plan with this trade. While Jose Reyes is said to be surprised as all are, Mark Buehrle certainly couldn’t be happy about the outcome, not only did he reject a three-year from the NL East champion Washington Nationals, but because of it he finds himself in Toronto, where like Miami-Dade county, pitbulls are banned.
Way to treat your former employers who decided against conventional wisdom to come here for your gratitude, Loria.
This inevitably puts a dark mark on the franchise never mind the fact that Jeffrey Loria has essentially alienated every future managerial candidate out there (if Redmond meets a similar fate) and now has every free agent avoiding trips to South Beach.
But David Samson will laugh at that notion saying: “I think at the end of the day players do come where the money is and that’s okay.” No, it’s not okay, not even for you, just what do you think it will take to pry a free agent from another team’s wooing? You have to outbid, you have to guarantee stability (which this franchise can’t), and you have to have what Giancarlo Stanton preaches is a “winning philosophy”!
Commissioner Bud Selig has taken his gracious time reviewing the epic salary dump trade, which will go through because let’s face it, he approved a similar deal between the Red Sox and Dodgers a few months back. However, that trade occurred between two historic franchises, one who will reinvest money (Boston), and the other who has won the lottery (Dodgers). But the Marlins? We’ve been told the same story before and all fans are sick of it.
Speaking of the Dodgers, look at where they are now, a franchise that was in all sorts of ruin under the direction of then owner Frank McCourt is now becoming a reinvigorated franchise with a mission and a purpose. Why? They have the new ownership which Bud Selig tried feverishly to get done after the dispute revolving around McCourt’s legal and financial problems.
In April of 2011, Selig executed his powers as commissioner to have MLB take over the Dodgers. In his statement, Selig stated:
“Pursuant to my authority as Commissioner, I informed Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt today that I will appoint a representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the Club. I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the Club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball.”
Basically what you should take out of that statement are references to the “Los Angeles Dodgers” and “Frank McCourt and insert “Miami Marlins” and “Jeffrey Loria”, cause these matters go hand and hand. Commissioner Bud Selig pushed for baseball in the South Florida market and has gotten the franchise this far but Jeffrey Loria has destroyed it like a category five hurricane.
Sun Sentinel cartoonist Chan Lowe has Loria’s description of his shady business in a few words. Notice how the Marlins logo has three waves of colors? Perhaps Loria already had a hidden meaning to his personal ATM. “My Miami Marlins?” As one fan asks while the Loria cartoon replies with “My Money Machine”. It’s the sad truth.
Loria has done irreversible damage to the Marlins franchise for his own financial benefit. While he thinks all is fine as long as he is making a profit he probably doesn’t think this. They won’t be able to lure prestigious free agents without grossly overpaying (no-trade clause policy), can’t hire a great manager anymore (Brad Ausmus turned them down for an interview), won’t be able to keep their franchise player (Giancarlo Stanton is unhappy), and on top of it, the front office, the same since Loria’s arrival in 2002 hasn’t been able to mold their own talent, the majority of which has been acquired in trades over the years.
Bud Selig can’t over look the fact that with Jeffrey Loria still manning this franchise, the Marlins won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. They will be last in attendance, last in payroll and all with a brand new ballpark, an embarrassment for baseball and a death wish for a baseball future in Miami even with the guarantee it will be here for the next half a century.
It’s anybody’s guess at what attendance will be for next season, probably no more than 18,000 per game for an average of less than 1.5 million for the year. The payroll will likely be as much as the highest paid players in baseball (Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols) are getting, mid 20s. Inside the numbers, Ricky Nolasco will be the highest paid Marlin next season if kept at $11.5 million. And if David Samson isn’t telling another lie, keeping Nolasco along with Bryan Petersen, who hasn’t produced much, might be to appease their best players, Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison respectively.
That seems to be their grand strategy amid their recent fire sale.
But this time it’s gone too far, the Marlins are damaged, a recent future of an All-Star game looks bleak, and Bud Selig must seriously consider ridding himself of a new cancer threatening to damage the sport by making off with a profit while his team’s image takes a nosedive.
That was the last straw and baseball can’t ill afford this franchise to run as a Ponzi scheme among the MLB ranks. Fans need to know they are cheering for a baseball team not a some Wall Street stock in cleats and uniform.