Monday, November 19, 2012

Marlins Gut Their Team, Again

                                          Toronto bound

When the Marlins spend money, what usually happens next is they look for a way to dump those contracts. They went out and signed manager Jim Leyland, Bobby Bonilla, Moises Alou, and Alex Fernandez before the 1997 season. They already had veterans Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Robb Nen, and Gary Sheffield, and up and coming players like Edgar Renteria, Livan Hernandez, and Charles Johnson. They won the 1997 World Series, but within a couple of years, all those players were traded away. They lost 108 games the next season after gutting their championship team.

In 2003, the Marlins had a group of talented players entering their prime. They changed managers mid-season and under Jack McKeon they went on a second half surge. They won the wild card and upset the Giants, Cubs, and Yankees to win their second World Series. Yet, after the season they didn't re-sign Pudge Rodriguez and traded away Derrek Lee. A few years later, they either traded or didnt' re-sign Luis Castillo, Juan Pierre, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Alex Gonzalez, Brad Penny, and many others. They entered the 2006 season with a 15 million dollar payroll, with only Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis remaining from their 2003 team. Two years later, they traded both players to the Tigers for practically nothing. The big prospects from that trade(Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller) did little with the Marlins, and Cabrera just won the Triple Crown and MVP this past season.

Marlins ownership then decided to sign Hanley Ramirez to a long term deal during the 2008 season. After the 2009 season, MLB Players Association and Commissioner Bud Selig forced the Marlins to spend more of their money. The Marlins were due to open Marlins Park in 2012 and they had received $300 million in revenue sharing in the last 10 years. The Marlins then signed Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco to contract extensions. They still traded away Dan Uggla a season later after signing free agent catcher John Buck. The prior offseason, the Marlins said they would change their ways and keep a higher payroll. The went on a spending binge and got a new manager in Ozzie Guillen. They went out and acquired Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Carlos Zambrano. The Fish were expected to contend this year, but they were a flop.

Maybe it was a bad mix of players, or that manager Guillen wasn't a good fit, or it could of been that ownership didn't give this team a fair chance to succeed. They traded away Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica, Gaby Sanchez, Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante at the deadline this year. Guillen was fired weeks after the season ended, and Heath Bell was traded away to Arizona after a disastrous season. Then last week, the Marlins announced they would be trading Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio to the Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar, Jeff Mathis, Henderson Alvarez, and 4 minor leaguers. The Marlins heavily backloaded the Reyes, Buehrle, and Bell deals and traded them all after 1 season.

The Marlins have now shed $236 million in future contracts since July. Some of the players they recieved back could be good players like pitchers Jacob Turner and Nathan Eovaldi. But, the Marlins have said for years they needed a new stadium to be competitive. Now that they have it, they still are cheapskates. Giancarlo Stanton is now the face of the franchise and is a a enormous talent, but he wasn't happy about the trades and I can't blame him. Stanton tweeted after the Fish-Jays megadeal, "Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain and Simple." I doubt the Marlins will pony up the money for Stanton when he's eligible for free agency either.

Jeffrey Loria is one of the worst owners in professional sports, if not the worst. He bought the Montreal Expos in late 1999, and is somewhat responsible for the extinction of baseball in Montreal. He wanted more money for English broadcasts of the team in 2000, and ended up having no English broadcasts available. The Quebec government had a deal for a new stadium for the Expos, but Loria wanted them to spend more money. The proposed Labatt Park never became a reality because of Loria's greed. He then sold the Expos to MLB before the 2002 season, and bought the Marlins from John Henry for a discount rate. Henry went on to buy the Red Sox.

Despite winning the 2003 World Series, Loria would not keep that team together. He dumped salary and explored moving the team during 2005 and 2006. Loria was then able to work out a sweetheart deal with Miami to build a new stadium. The city of Miami and Miami-Dade County agreed to pick up 80% of the $634 million costs of the new ballpark. Loria isn't as rich as some big league owners, but he has a net worth of $500 million. Loria is also a big recipient of revenue sharing along with the corporate welfare picked up by the city of Miami. Yet, he has not held up his end of the bargain in trying to field a competitive team.

The latest trade with Toronto is under review from Bud Selig. He is angered about the deal since he helped Loria secure the stadium deal. Still, Selig is likely to approve the deal. There is talk that he could strip the Marlins of the 2015 All Star Game now. The Marlins will have a tough time recruiting free agents to Miami now because of this. There was not a no-trade clause in the Reyes, Buehrle, or Bell deals, but Loria assured Reyes that he would not be traded. Loria only cares about making money, and isn't all that interested in winning and has alienated Marlins fans. It would be for the best interests of the Marlins franchise, their fans, and baseball if he sold the team.

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