For Marlins, Perception Is Now Reality

A year ago, the Marlins signed a bunch of free agents to long term contracts that were backloaded in salary and didn’t include no-trade clauses. At the time of the deals, many skeptics suggested the organization’s past history and the structure of these deals meant the entire spending spree was a mirage designed to fool the city of Miami into thinking they actually bought a competitive team with their new $500 million stadium. That once the rubber hit the road, the Marlins would just trade all these expensive players away and go back to putting a low payroll team on the field to accomplish their real goal: raking in cash while exploiting the flaws in the revenue sharing agreements for the owner’s own personal gain.

Tonight, the Marlins completed a trade with the Blue Jays that vindicates every single person who said or wrote such a thing last year. It doesn’t even matter if this was the original plan, or if this is just an audible that the organization called after things went south. There is a chance this wasn’t all pre-scripted 12 months ago, and the organization really did want to try and win with the group of players they signed. That’s now irrelevant. The fact that it looks like this was all part of a master plan concocted before Jose Reyes or Mark Buehrle signed up to play in Miami means that the Marlins not only traded away a bunch of players today, they shipped out any last remaining amount of credibility the franchise had as well.

Ken Rosenthal is right – the only option for the Marlins to ever be seen as a legitimate MLB franchise again is for Jeffrey Loria to sell the team. Loria’s reputation — already the worst of any owner in the sport — is unsalvageable now, and he’s just alienated a whole new generation of people. It’s not just the fans. There’s no serious argument to be made that any established Major League player is going to want to play in Miami if they have the option of playing somewhere else.

This isn’t even about signing future free agents. This is about being able to retain any homegrown developed star in the future, including Giancarlo Stanton. He’s under team control for another four years, but the likelihood of him taking anything this ownership group tells him seriously just went to zero. His “I’m pissed” tweet says it all; it’s a good bet he’s already informed his agent to ask for a trade or is counting down the days until he is traded to a team that actually appears interested in winning.

And if you can’t keep a 22-year-old superstar, then what’s the point of any of this? The whole point of having cheap young Major League talent is that you can get quality performance at a low cost, allowing you to redistribute the majority of your payroll to expensive veterans and build a good team around them. But if you alienate your franchise players and have lost any credibility in negotiations with free agents, then all you are left with is a bunch of minimum salary kids who aren’t good enough to win on their own.

Developing young stars through prospect accumulation is great if you actually plan on keeping them long enough to try and win. But no one thinks that’s what Jeffrey Loria is trying to do anymore. Now, he’s just the greedy bastard who ruined baseball in Montreal, only with yet another evil deed on his resume. He’s basically a cartoon villain at this point. He’s the wench who owned the Cleveland Indians in Major League, only if she also threw kittens in a wood-chipper in her spare time.

You can only claim that you’re misunderstood so many times. There is a line at which point no one has the time or energy to ever decide whether you’re trustworthy again. With the new stadium and new uniforms, Loria was able to sell the idea of a new direction for the franchise well enough to get people to trust him one more time. This trade is a betrayal of all of that. The fact that it probably makes some sense from a purely baseball standpoint doesn’t matter. You can’t trade for trust and credibility, and that’s what the Marlins will never have under Jeffrey Loria again.

As long as Loria owns the franchise, they’re going to be perceived as a minor league team. A farm system for the rest of the league. A bottom feeder whose entire existence is focused on funneling cash to the ownership.

There are probably shades of gray that are more true than that black and white picture. No one is going to care to stop and look for them, though. The idea that this was all a scam — that Jeffrey Loria just played everyone for a fool, again — is just too powerful to be overcome. As long as he’s in charge, the Marlins won’t be seen as a real Major League organization.

If Bud Selig isn’t going to stop Loria from treating the franchise like an ATM machine, then he just needs to take the franchise away from him. Once again, the league is 29 real teams and a joke. Once again, Jeffrey Loria is the guy responsible for intentionally destroying the credibility of a Major League franchise.

It’s beyond time for him to go. We can only hope Rosenthal is right, and this is a precursor to Loria putting the team up for sale. With any luck, the franchise will get new ownership in place in time to convince Stanton not to leave, and can restore some hope in the Marlins once again. As the Dodgers new ownership group has shown, it doesn’t take long to dramatically alter the image of a franchise once new management takes over. The Marlins can be a legitimate MLB franchise again.

They just won’t be one as long as Jeffrey Loria is in charge.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman

Once was enough.

Twice is an appalling thing.

Jeffrey Loria destroyed the Expos and he has destroyed the Marlins. He needs to be banned from the sport. Clearly he cares very passionately about something, but that something is not baseball. It is baseball’s antithesis.

wily mo
Member
Member

cricket?

Rippers
Guest
Rippers

At least Loria gave something back to Canada with this trade.

joser
Guest
joser

Taking from Montreal and giving back to Toronto is not really a recipe for peace or goodwill.

Terrence Phillips
Guest
Terrence Phillips

I’m not your buddy, pal.

Frank McCourt
Guest
Frank McCourt

Jeffrey Loria is a terrible owner.

Scott Ferris
Guest
Scott Ferris

How’s the wife, Frank?

Fred Wilpon
Guest
Fred Wilpon

Hey there, play nice now.

Cliff
Guest
Cliff

Okay, so what about when they sign a bunch of new big-time free agents this off-season? Is he still a joke and a jerk?

I mean they sign a bunch of expensive free agents to long-term, back-loaded contracts, get their best and cheapest year, then sell the rest of the (bad) contracts for high-level prospects?? How is that not a huge win? Rinse and repeat a couple times and they have the best team in MLB, right?

Cidron
Member
Cidron

you say that as if he COULD sign a bunch of big time free agents this off season. That was one of the points of the article. If you were such a free agent, would you sign there, or another place, if the money were similar?

Matt
Guest
Matt

A bunch of high level prospects? They got Marsinik and a bunch of average guys. Even if all he wanted to do was dump salary, you’d think he could have gotten quite a bit more bang for his buck in the form of at least one top 30 prospect?

wobatus
Guest
wobatus

Well, didn’t Reyes and Buehrle know their contracts were back-end loaded and they didn’t have no-trade clauses? I think we can assume they thought the team was going all-in for 2012, but that if the team collapsed (which didn’t seem that likely at the time, I suppose) they might be dealt. If they wanted no-trade clauses they would have taken less money elsewhere. They didn’t.

Gomez
Guest

One thing worth noting is that these players are getting paid their full contracts no matter what. Yes, many players don’t like rooting somewhere and then getting dealt during their contract to a place they might not want to play. But I would surmise that many understand the nature of the business and simply want a competitive place to play ball and to get paid a ton of money to do it. Are we assured that no one would take a massive contract to play for the Marlins just because they’re sure they’ll get dealt at some point?

GMH
Guest
GMH

Yes, the Expos had such an amazing run in the 30 years before Loria purchased the team. One postseason appearance, and that was only due to the insanity of MLB for dividing a strike-shortened season into halves. And then Rick Fucking Monday.

Your anger should be directed at Bud Selig and John Henry. Loria is their creation, brought to fruition by Selig’s evil plan to contract Montreal and Minnesota, presumably because there was room for only one “M” team in Selig’s universe.

Brewers
Guest

What the hell are you talking about?

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman

Wow, I’m glad that post makes sense this morning. I may or may not have been quite intoxicated.

chuckb
Member
Member
chuckb

From your name, we assume that’s true all the time. You got pluses anyway, or perhaps because of it.

Bip
Guest
Bip

Baseball is probably the one thing you can write about as lucidly drunk as sober.

Justin Smoaked Cheese
Guest
Justin Smoaked Cheese

Are you well-beered because you are drunk as skunk? Or you have been drinking only the finest beers? Sam Adams is Crap btw

Pinstripe Wizard
Member
Pinstripe Wizard

All Sam Adams or just Boston Lager?

Justin Smoaked Cheese
Guest
Justin Smoaked Cheese

Definitely start with those awful commercials that ruin MLB network shows. As a proud west coast beer lover, I don’t want to hear about Sams “special” beers.

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman

I regret to inform you gents that last night it was a bottle of shiraz.

However I should like to think that my well-beeredness is attributable to both quality and quantity.

Ben
Guest
Ben

For a session beer, I think Sam Adams does the trick quite nicely.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R

Loria is proof of what is wrong with two things.
1) MLB’s revenue sharing policy: This is a problem with American sports in general, but it’s particularly evident in MLB. While people whine and complain about how much teams like the Yankees spend, they spend it because they have it to spend. MLB doesn’t exist, or at least not in its current form, without prestigious franchises like the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox. What good does it do for the league to make these teams fund the operations of small franchises that no one cares to go see? Maybe Miami should be a great market for MLB, but that shouldn’t be an open invite to just funnel money to whatever location the league is desperate to get a base in.

2) Taxpayer funded stadiums: It should be a huge red flag when a man worth half a billion dollars cries that he “needs” the city to build him a stadium to lease. Politicians simply are not too bright, hence their attraction to jobs where they can only can be fired once every 2 years, and seem to love being sucked into ponying up for these single-use stadiums. This is ridiculous in its own right, given how much tax revenue has to be sucked out of the local economy to build it, but it becomes even worse when the team is already located in the city (so the whole “it’ll develop the area” argument becomes totally moot because it’ll just transfer what was business around Sun Life Stadium in the summer to the area around Marlins Park). He got his park, he got his deal, and now he can kick back and watch his bank account grow. After all, it’s not his worthless monstrosity of a ballpark, it’s Miami-Dade County’s.

Basically, Loria has gamed the American system of sports (a very protectionist system) to maximize his own income w/ little risk. This is exactly why I advocate a promotion/relegation system to be implemented in American sports; if guys like Loria decided to not spend and for his team to be bad, his team would be nowhere near the top flight of the sport. Obviously the EPL isn’t exactly the perfect model of financial sanity (as it has ownership w/ the exact opposite problem that the Marlins have), but terrible owners like Jeff Loria, Donald Sterling in the NBA, Frank McCourt, etc, simply do not last long.

Peter Gentleman
Guest
Peter Gentleman

By “twice” I assume you mean when he signed Carlos Delgado with the promise of making the team good and then traded him after a year, just like he did now.

People forgot about that. They’ll forget again about this.