Miami Marlins: Defending Jeffrey Loria
Thursday November 22nd, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: What the Marlins had to do this offseason is horrible. Last year, the Marlins raised the hopes of the fans with a rejuvenated logo and uniforms, a new stadium, and most of all a new-look team. Last winter, Marlins management made a commitment to the fans to provide a contending team for the years to come. They went out and signed Jose Reyes for seven years. He and Hanley Ramirez were supposed to serve alongside Giancarlo Stanton as the core of the team for almost the next decade. To build on the Reyes signing, the Marlins also inked pitchers Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. Ozzie Guillen also jumped aboard and was set up to be a lovable manager. With this spending spree, the Marlins brought a lot of excitement to South Florida and were supposed to be a major contender in the NL East.
Unfortunately this was not the case. The Marlins quickly faltered and Ozzie Guillen was immediately under the spotlight for his comments about Fidel Castro. Fans were already calling for Guillen to be fired. The team’s performance was not helping. I personally attended the second home game at Marlins Park against the Astros. Although it was against the Astros, any team that spends as much money as the Marlins did in the offseason should have a packed house at their second game of the season (in their new stadium!). The stadium was full, but not sold out. I was hoping that this was not a sign of things to come, but it was. The Marlins continued their spiral downward and talks of trades began. Heath Bell was the opposite of what the Marlins signed him to be and lost his job as closer. Both Reyes and Ramirez slumped. The Marlins needed to make some moves.
The first big trade came right before the trade deadline when Hanley Ramirez was moved to the Dodgers for namely Nate Eovaldi. Eovaldi is good enough, but for a superstar type like Hanley Ramirez, a team would expect a little more back if they were trying to build for the future. This Ramirez trade was obviously a salary-dump that the high-spending Dodgers took advantage of. Well, thought Marlins fans, that was bound to happen sometime. Ramirez had slumped in the past and was rumored to be traded a few times before, so this was not a huge surprise. Now this was Reyes’ team. The Marlins continued to slump and wound up in last place in the NL East. What could they possibly do for the next season?
The Marlins started this offseason by shipping Heath Bell to the Diamondbacks. This was the first of the deals. Then, as if the Bell move did not take enough money off the books, the Marlins sent Reyes, Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck, Josh Johnson and cash to the Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar and prospects in a deal for the ages. By making this trade, Jeffrey Loria was basically saying, okay, I give up, let’s start fresh.
Now the Marlins are back right where they started—one guy to build around (Stanton) and a little money to spend. They do not have nearly as much money as last time though because it is likely that fans wont want to come to the games anymore—why would they spend money to see a last-place team? Loria had to blow the team up. With the team he had, there would be no way they would reach the playoffs in the next few years. And, this past year was the year that was supposed to be accompanied by the biggest fan-fare. Instead the Marlins ranked 18th in attendance and finished last. The Marlins could only go down from here. Loria did the right thing, and now he gets to start fresh. In my opinion, the most important thing Loria must do in the next few years is earn back the trust of the fans—after completely letting them down. It could take a lot, and it might mean building the minor league system and home-growing some talent. Fans will undoubtedly second-guess Loria the next time he signs a big-name free agent. Maybe the best thing Loria could do for the Marlins would be to sell the team. Only time will tell.
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***Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshansky, Baseball Writer & Facebook Administrator. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky)***
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Posted on November 22, 2012, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged arizona diamondbacks, astros, attendance, baseball, fidel castro, florida, giancarlo stanton, hanley ramirez, heath bell, jeffrey loria, john buck, jose reyes, Mark buerhle, marlins, money, nathan eovaldi, New Marlins Park, ozzie guillen, ramirez, toronto blue jays, yunel escobar. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.