Quick Fix For Fish?
Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria does not anticipate a prolonged stretch of struggles for his ballclub. “I don’t think it’s going to take long at all” Loria said in regards to getting this team turned around. With all due respect for Mr. Loria but he cannot have been watching the same team Miami baseball fans have. This season has been an absolute train wreck for the Fish. Loria recently made reference to Jose Reyes and Giancarlo Stanton being excellent pieces to build around. While that is true, the keyword there is “build”. According to Loria it will be an expedited process to get back on top. Unfortunately for him as well as the front office, they have lost the trust of the fan base. After years of mediocre roster moves and fire sale after fire sale, the fans are fed up. The people of Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami funded arguably the most elaborate stadium in all of baseball with the sole promise that the front office would do their part and put a winner on the field. Fact is, the people of Miami were conned. After making a giant splash in the offseason with a new stadium, new uniforms, marquee free agents, and a whole new identity; the Marlins abandoned the experiment just a mere four months in. They did what they have are notorious for, they dumped salary. It’s fair to say the team was under-performing and were clearly below expectations. The solution? Fire sale and cut salaries wherever possible.
President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest along side General Manager Michael Hill claim the goal was to get good young talent on the ballclub because the team was losing rather than just to subtract payroll. Perhaps he’s right; maybe the Marlins were indeed trying to get younger. If so, how does the Gaby Sanchez trade make sense? A year removed from an All-Star appearance, the first-baseman has had his worst career season. There is no denying his talent, both with his glove and bat. But the Marlins grew tired of “waiting” for him to come around after two stints in the minors. Instead they moved in another direction, they pulled the trigger and brought in veteran first-baseman Carlos “el Caballo” Lee. So what did the Marlins really do? They gave up on a 2005 4th round pick with tremendous upside with minimal salary ($483,000) only to replace him with a fizzling out 36 year old Lee. The Houston Astros did pick up the majority of Lee’s ridiculous contract so it isn’t costing the Fish much financially to have him around this season but what it did cost them was a good young player and more apathy from the fan base. The Marlins front office also made moves sending Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Jacob Turner. Turner was a high minor league prospect with little major league experience. The thought behind this move is to rebuild the starting rotation with younger arms. In essence, it makes more sense than the Gaby Sanchez move. But it came at a time where Infante was putting up career numbers and for a while was the only one performing for this team. The Fish then traded superstar Hanley Ramirez and reliever Randy Choate to the Los Angeles Dodgers for starting pitcher Nate Eovaldi. This is all too familiar, reminiscent of the Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis trade. The Marlins made a similar trade when they basically gave away Cabrera and Willis to the Detroit Tigers. In that particular trade, the Marlins received outfielder Cameron Maybin, pitcher Andrew Miller, catcher Mike Rabelo and minor league pitchers Eulogio De La Cruz, Dallas Trahern and Burke Badenhop.
So what do the Marlins have to show for Beinfest’s 10 year tenure? A perennial mediocre product on the field and a depleted farm system. A farm system that was coveted as one of the best in all the Bigs for years is but a barren wasteland now. Ten years of bad trades and horrendous drafting will do that to a team. In the last ten drafts the Marlins have had 11 selections in the first round. Of those 11 players taken, none of them are on the major league roster today. The lone semi-exception would be Giancarlo Stanton who was a 2nd round pick back in 2007. With a President of Baseball Operations and a General Manager that cannot correctly evaluate talent and draft successfully, how can the fix for this team possibly be a quick one Mr. Loria? Building an entire team through free agency only works for the big-market extremely high-payroll teams. Are the Marlins suddenly going to dish out 200+ million a year to compete with the Yankees? Highly unlikely. So a “quick fix” doesn’t seem very likely for this ballclub. What needs to be done is a deep reevaluation. Not just with the players, but throughout the entire organization. Rather than any players being subject to the ‘chopping block’, the first two names on there should be Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill.
Early in his Marlins career Beinfest was toted as a magician for putting a World Series Champion on the field in 2003 in just his 2nd year in Miami. However, that is just an illusion. Beinfest was rally trading on former General Manager Dave Dombrowski’s name. The 2003 Florida Marlins championship roster was filled with Dombrowski players. In essence, all Beinfest had to do was sit back and watch. It is no coincidence that after Dombrowski left Miami for Detroit that the Marlins have basically been in the toilet with the guidance of Beinfest and the Detroit Tigers are now a perennial contender.
For the Marlins to truly return back to their winning ways, it will likely not be an expedited process unless they decide to take a page out of the Yankees and Red Sox book and buy a championship. They can choose the route of banding together free-agents in hopes of success but that can be hit or miss. This season for the Marlins is a perfect example of a miss. The other choice they have is to do it the right way and build from within. But that is a much more time-consuming path. For the Marlins, there is just too much to build to even fathom a “quick fix”. They would need a complete change in management, Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill must be gone in order to rebuild this team. Ten years of mistakes have to be undone and contrary to what Owner Loria believes, that is not something that just happens overnight. Loria’s enthusiasm is overshadowed by lies that have been told by the very same front office in the past. The only thing that will truly excite this fan base and gain their support is a winning product.