Take a listen to any of the local sports talk radio stations over the last few weeks and assuredly you will hear a gasbag radio host exclaiming that the Marlins are undergoing one of their classic “fire sales”.
After their championship in 1997, Marlins owner H. Wayne Huizenga obliterated the team and the Marlins ended up 54- 108 the next season. Again in 2005, the current owner, Jeffrey Loria, performed a similar act, sending the team payroll from $60 million to $14 million.
However, what Larry Beinfest and the Marlins management have done over the last few days is not akin to one of those previous fire sales. They traded away a disappointing diva in Hanley Ramirez, a letdown in Gaby Sanchez, a free-agent-to-be in Anibal Sanchez, and others. In return, they received some highly touted prospects and some relief from a regrettable contract to Hanley Ramirez, in which he was owed $31 million over the next two years.
The real test for the Marlins, however, will be whether they turn around and spend the money they saved from these trades. If the Marlins give the money that Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez would have been owed to other valuable players, I would call this trade deadline a “winner”.
On top of it all, the Marlins received two former first round draft picks, a Triple-A All Star, a three-time Futures game player and a first-round draft pick. Indeed, the Marlins brass stated that the key to the Gaby Sanchez deal was, in fact, that firstround draft pick. However, with the Marlins’ proclivity to draft players like Taylor Tankersley, Chris Volstad and Jeremy Hermida in the first round, there is not much potential value there.
A level of mistrust directed at Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria is understandable. He has already ripped apart this team once, and ripped apart another franchise in the Montreal Expos. But Loria should have started to win you back, even just a little bit. The Marlins were not only players at this off-season’s winter meetings, they were superstars. They ended up committing to spend $200 million and were willing to spend even more. For the sake of the future of baseball in South Florida, I hope that was not a one-time-only event.
The team that the Marlins are fielding right now is dreadful. Assuredly, this is not how anybody in the Marlins management envisioned this team performing. On paper, the team should have been competitive with anyone in a weak National League. But for now, the best performer on this team would be Justin Ruggiano, a man who, at the beginning of this season, called Oklahoma City his home, playing for the AAA Red Hawks.
At the beginning of this season, the consensus was that if the Marlins could stay healthy they would be able to compete.
This year, the Marlins have stayed remarkably healthy. Until the Fish traded away Anibal Sanchez, they were one of only two teams to start every game with the five starting pitchers they began the season with. In terms of health, they couldn’t have had much better luck.
But alas, this team has grossly underperformed. They have an inability to score runs and, when they do, suddenly they have an inability to pitch. The definition of insanity would be to try the same thing over and over again and to expect a different result. If the Marlins had tried to field the same team for next year, they would have had the same result. The recent shake-up was not only beneficial, it was necessary.
Preston Michelson is a senior at Palmer Trinity School where he is the public address announcer for all varsity sporting events. Contact him on Twitter at @PrestonMich or by email at michelsonpr@ gmail.com
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