The Marlins Sold the Future and Got Nothing In Return


At this point in the offseason, as we inch closer and closer to Christmas the Marlins inactivity has gone from peculiar to legitimately concerning. The Marlins in 2015 were built to “contend” and give a shot at making a run at October. That obviously didn’t happen and the team stumbled to a 91 loss season that was mostly driven by a profound lack of depth both in the Major League roster and down in the farm system.

At this point it is like beating a dead horse. The Marlins traded away all of their depth to try and be a contender and then weren’t a contender because they didn’t have any depth. It is at the very least circular logic and worst the sign of a management suite and front office that operate with no discernible plan.  Jeffrey Loria, David Samson and Michael Hill the three remaining members of the so-called “brain trust” that put the team on this footing can’t be excused anymore.  I for one can’t give them another pass. It is quite simply put inexcusable. The Marlins have so clearly fallen behind even the laggards in the industry that is clear that there is no discernible plan for the future that I can tell.

Baseball as a sport as well as industry has changed immensely in the past decade and a half. The introduction of data and objective decision making has completely changed the game. Teams that had been consigned to the perennial cellar finally had a way to climb out and be competitive. The Oakland Athletics started it and then Andrew Friedman carried on the revolution. Taking the lowly Rays who had been a laughingstock and mostly irrelevant for their first decade of existence to the 2008 World Series.

The thing that these progressive front offices noticed first of all is that received baseball wisdom should be questioned.  While there are some lessons to be learned from baseball’s history and its massive stores of anecdotal data there is more value to using that anecdotal data as a starting point for new points of inquiry.

This is exactly where the Marlins are falling behind. There is a simple taxonomy of baseball teams.

Able to and willing to spend and analytically adept (Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox)

Able to and willing to spend and not analytically adept (Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds)

Unable or unwilling to spend and analytically adept (Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays)

Unable or unwilling to spend and openly hostile to analytics (Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies)

MLB has no salary cap and no salary floor, an owner can choose to spend as little as much as they want on building their roster. Jeffrey Loria quite simply has chosen to not make a bona fide effort at spending money the correct way.  Sure I have to cede some points, the Giancarlo Stanton extension (although not a 13-year deal) was a great move as was Christin Yelich’s extension.

Yelich and Stanton may well be the offensive cornerstone for this club for the length of their contracts but there is no reason to believe that the Marlins can actually make use of these players’ primes.

The Marlins made the most essential mistake in crafting the current Major League roster they got rid of every single asset that they had to make the future of the team for 3 months of Mat Latos and Dan Haren and a spray hitting second baseman

Then to top it all off the Marlins non-tendered Henderson Alvarez which makes Tom Koehler the number 2 starter in 2016.

A smart baseball team when put in the situation where the Marlins were in 2013 does not do what they did.  The Marlins had Jose Fernandez, Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani.  Their strongest point of strength and something that they could build for the future upon.  A week before Christmas 2015 the only one remaining is Jose Fernandez.  Even worse the Marlins have been shopping him to make the juggernaut at Chavez Ravine even more powerful.

So much ink has been spilled on this topic here on Marlin Maniac that at this point it almost feels futile. The Marlins used to have pitching depth and some solid position player prospects which almost excused the Blue Jays trade (although not quite)

But now the Marlins as currently built and you have to imagine it won’t change much will start the 2016 season with Jose Fernandez in the top spot of the rotation followed by Tom Koehler, Jarred Cosart, Justin Nicolino, Adam Conley and David Phelps.

That is unless they somehow unadvisedly flip Marcell Ozuna for a front line guy and overpay for a Scott Kazmir type.  Although we all know that isn’t very likely to happen.

The Marlins by not adding anything to this roster and only subtracting Alvarez and spending time by dithering about trying to trade Jose Fernandez seem to be trying to prove a point. That this team was abnormally bad last year because a few players underperformed and because of injuries. If they brought back the exact same roster without Henderson Alvarez they couldn’t possibly do worse.

I for one and am not so positive about that prospect.