There has been considerable wailing and gnashing of teeth here in Miami since the Marlins started their “Fire sale? what fire sale?” fire sale. Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante packed their bags for a trip to Detroit, and there were some grumblings and doomsayers, but the consensus was that it was an OK baseball trade. As everyone now knows, the gloves came off in September, and now the Marlins are a team of triple-A prospects and platoon retreads with one gold-plated right fielder (complete with a 3-pound chip on his shoulder).
Back in August, we started writing about Loria and his inability to stay out of the locker room. Last Sunday, Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer wrote in the Miami Herald about how Loria seems to be trying to channel Jerry Jones and George Steinbrenner with his practice of meddling with player decisions. Their contention is that Loria is meddling for money, not the altruistic goal of winning championships. I still say he’s got more in common with Dan Snyder’s early years with the Redskins and Frank McCourt’s entire tenure with the Dodgers. At least Snyder seems to have learned from his mistakes (RGIII’s knees notwithstanding). McCourt may be the closest comparison.
What Jackson and Clark either missed or didn’t point out is that Jones and Steinbrenner won, and no one gives a fig about motives as long as the wins are there. The wins aren’t there with the Marlins, and motives are becoming important. It’s getting tough to give Loria the benefit of the doubt. Perceptions and optics are clearly unimportant to Loria, and both remaining Miami fans are getting tired of David Samson running to the nearest live microphone to talk about how exciting the next season is going to be.
All is not gloom and doom. There have been a number of positive articles from national-level writers that have taken a sober look at the prospects the Marlins picked up, and it’s looking promising. Yesterday, the club released the spring training invitee roster, and there are 71 players competing for a spot. Most notable is Christian Yelich, said to be ranked as the #4 outfield prospect when MLB.com announces its top 100 prospects tonight. We’ll see how long it takes him to get called up.
While the farm system is looking good, it may take too long to identify and promote the really good players, and Marlins fans will only see Giancarlo Stanton during interleague play, wearing pinstripes. There has been a rumor floating around that the MLBPA is considering putting pressure on Loria to raise the payroll, but as our fearless editor here at Marlin Maniac points out, if Houston has $10-15m less payroll than the Marlins, pressure from the league and from the MLBPA is unlikely.
For now, we’re stuck with a bad owner. These are the years that separate fans from front-runners.