In a move that surprises absolutely no one, the Marlins have decided to make personnel moves that will save them money at the expense of winning games. In a reported trade that has not been finalized yet the Marlins would send Jose Reyes, John Buck, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and Josh Johnson to the Blue Jays. The Marlins receive a handful of players back, among them Yunel Escobar and some prospects. However the real treat for Jeffrey Loria, the kicker that makes his socks roll up and down is the tens of millions of dollars he cut from payroll. A year after making a big push to move into their new stadium, the Marlins have done a complete 180. Or, as it’s known around the major leagues, they pulled a Loria. Lie to about 100 people’s faces in one year, then turn around and do the exact opposite of what you promised. It’s not a huge surprise, but it’s gotta be a record for the earliest that a team has punted on a season. It’s November of 2012, they’ve given up on 2013, conceivably 2014, and pretty much the rest of the foreseeable future with this trade.
Remember last year, when the Marlins swore they turned over a new leaf? They said, “Look at us! We have this expensive eyesore of a new stadium, vomit inducing new uniforms and some bright shiny players who will not at all help us improve as a ballclub but will hopefully sell tickets. And don’t worry Hispanic citizens of Miami Dade County, we got a Hispanic manager to come in and take your mind off the fact that we just screwed you and the rest of the taxpayers into paying for an expensive new stadium to support a team that will continue to yank you around, claiming to be too poor to win, while really just pocketing the revenue sharing money and putting a subpar product on the field!” Maybe they didn’t say all of that, but it’s clearly what they meant. After signing Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle as free agents, they said they were ready to contend. They made ovations towards Albert Pujols. They pointed to all the money they just spent and said they had changed. But only the most gullible amongst us believed them. The contracts to which they signed their new players were back loaded with cash as a trapdoor for them to cut and run with relatively little owed to anyone. And that’s what they’ve done. Here’s a list of the players that the Marlins have parted ways with since the beginning of last season:
Heath Bell (traded to the Diamondbacks this offseason)
Mark Buehrle (traded to the Blue Jays today)
Josh Johnson (traded to Blue Jays today)
Anibal Sanchez (traded to Tigers last year)
John Buck (traded to Blue Jays today)
Omar Infante (traded to Tigers last year)
Hanley Ramirez (traded to Dodgers last year)
Jose Reyes (traded to Blue Jays today)
Gaby Sanchez (traded to Pirates last year)
Emilio Bonifacio (traded to Blue Jays today)
Randy Choate (traded to Dodgers last year)
Chad Gaudin (became a free agent)
Edward Mujica (traded to Cardinals last year)
Sandy Rosario (claimed off of waivers by the Red Sox last year)
Carlos Zambrano (became free agent this offseason)
Brett Hayes (claimed off waivers by the Royals last year)
Donnie Murphy (became free agent)
Gil Velazquez (became free agent)
Scott Cousins (claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays and then the Mariners)
Austin Kearns (became free agent)
Carlos Lee (became free agent)
Adam Greenburg (retired)
So that’s the entire list. Obviously not all of those guys were part of a fire sale. The ones claimed off waivers didn’t make the cut in Miami because the Marlins didn’t think they were good enough. The guys who became free agents, for the most part, probably weren’t worth re-signing. And Adam Greenburg is a special case. But between last year and today the Marlins traded 12 different players to other teams in an effort to cut salary. And at this point the only surprising part is that the racket going on in Miami can still surprise us.
I first heard of the trade from the blog Big League Stew. Their post can be read here, but my favorite part was the Twitter quote from Giancarlo Stanton that they posted which said, “Alright, I’m pissed off!!! Plain & Simple”. Better be careful, Giancarlo. The Marlins don’t do well with players sounding off on Twitter. Just ask Logan Morrison. I would also recommend reading Tim Brown’s column about the unmitigated gall of Jeffrey Loria here. And you can check out my previous rants about this club, here and here.
What the Marlins brass is doing is disgraceful. Even after a season where the Marlins failed to meet expectations, (although a lot of people, me included, didn’t see them as too improved) the complete destruction of this team is still mind blowing. They have some talented young players (Stanton, Morrison). They had some exciting, All Star Talent (Hanley, Reyes, Johnson) and enough veterans (Bell, Buehrle) to build around. But by back loading the contracts and refusing no trade clauses to any of the new players, you have to wonder if this was their out the entire time. They say Ozzie Guillen was to blame. He was fired and they brought in Mike Redmond, a manager at the A-ball level last year. But everyone knows that this team is in the basement due to the ownership. Players didn’t want to go to Miami. A few took a chance when they were told things would be different. Now they are all gone. As is any hope the Marlins have of attracting new players now. The city paid for a $515 million dollar new stadium. It was empty by the halfway point of its inaugural season. And that likely won’t change. My only hope is that Bud Selig and major league baseball become as embarrassed by this spectacle as the city of Miami should be and steps in a la Frank McCourt. It’s too late to save the taxpayers. It’s too late to save this season. But it can’t be undone. Baseball can be great in Miami again. There can be 5 major league teams in the NL East instead of 4 and the shell of the Marlins. The only impediment is Jeffrey Loria and the sham of a franchise he’s running in south Florida.