Thursday, July 26, 2012

Marlins Continue to Shed Salary

The Marlins’ fire sale continues.  Yesterday they unloaded franchise jewel, Hanley Ramirez.  Ramirez has been essentially untouchable for the last few seasons as he was one of the only players on the club to get a long-term deal (before this offseason’s crop of free agents).  Ramirez was actually paid due to the hand of the MLB Commissioner’s office, which stepped in and insisted that the Marlins give him a long-term deal for big money.  Had that not happened, he likely would have been out the door years ago as part of another dose of “market correcting.”  With this trade to the Dodgers, we see that nothing is off limits for this team.

The main reason Hanley was sent off is because the Dodgers were willing to take on his salary.  And it’s a risk for the Dodgers too.  Hanley is one of the most entitled players in the game, and was handled like a fragile Faberge egg by the Marlins administration.  But even they tired of his antics, and that’s really saying something.  Don Mattingly has done a tremendous job in L.A. of getting heady young stars (Matt Kemp) to get their act together and act like a team.  Hanley could ruin all that good work fairly easily, especially if he’s not happy (which he often isn’t).  However it’s a great trade for the Dodgers as he can replace Dee Gordon at shortstop until he comes back in a few weeks, and then become the full time third baseman.  The former batting champ has shown great power and speed, but has struggled the last few years.  His weight and whining are the only aspects of his game that have climbed while his AVG and OBP have dropped at an alarming rate.  It’s hard to know what’s going on in that mind, but if he can begin to recover his former skills, which were at a near MVP level, this will be a great deal for the Dodgers as they look to add offense to back up Kemp and Andre Ethier.

As for the Marlins, it’s no surprise what’s happening there.  The only thing that surprises me is that they had the gall to begin their fire sale in the same season that they opened their new stadium.  There was never any doubt that the Marlins wouldn’t change.  And despite the promises they made to the fans, a new stadium wasn’t the cure-all to the way they do business.  The way they make money is to run out a team on a shoestring budget, and use the revenue sharing to pay bills and line their pockets.  Jeff Passan goes into great detail in this article, which I suggest everyone read.  It’s tremendous, and an indictment of what this administration thinks about baseball.

Miami baseball fans are craving meaningful September games.  But they won’t even see meaningful August baseball this year.  They’ve unloaded two talented players before they hit free agency, and one mega-star that was owed mega-bucks.  They are fielding offers for ace Josh Johnson, who is also due quite a bit of money.  All indications are that he’ll be gone before the trade deadline on Monday.  This new stadium has not been the answer, despite the Jekyll and Hyde claims of strong attendance from the Marlins top brass.  There has been only one sellout, and they are still in line to finish near the bottom in MLB ticket sales for an 8th straight season.  And while one month they trumpet their new stadium’s success, the next they use the low ticket sales as a scapegoat in their broken promises to fans as they ship off all the expensive, but talented pieces of their team.  They continue to build for a metaphorical future, which will never take hold while this ownership runs things.  The brazen disregard this team has for building a champion is an insult to the city of Miami, and the baseball world.  And regardless of the new team name, or what this team does on the field, the citizens of Miami-Dade County have over $2 billion due on a stadium that will house a team made up of young prospects who won’t sell tickets.  The executives will continue to cash in on revenue sharing, and this team will do what it does best…lose.  It’s like a baseball version of The Producers, make a team bad enough, and you will actually make money, not lose it.  It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad.  But that’s Miami, where baseball goes to die.

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