Marlins Continue To Make Moves, Boost Rotation With Deal For Buehrle
Prior to the Angels signing 1B Albert Pujols and P C.J. Wilson this morning, the Marlins had continued to "dominate the news at the winter meetings," formally introducing SS Jose Reyes and agreeing to contract terms with P Mark Buehrle, according to Clark Spencer of the MIAMI HERALD. The team since Sunday has reached deals with three players, "whose future salary commitments total $191 million." The Marlins have gone from "paupers to fat cats in a blinding flash, spending money in a bewildering sequence of signings that has turned them into baseball rock stars." The team's bid for free agent 1B Albert Pujols "generated the biggest buzz," but the club withdrew its offer yesterday. Nonetheless, all of the activity by the Marlins "has generated excitement in South Florida." Marlins President David Samson said that the team’s "souvenir stores spread throughout the region sold out of dozens of replica Reyes jersey[s] in a matter of hours Wednesday after his signing was formally announced," adding that "more jerseys were ordered." Samson also said that ticket sales "increased every day since Friday." He said, "With the team we’re putting together, we expect there to be very few empty seats at this ballpark ever" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/8). In West Palm Beach, Joe Capozzi notes the addition of Buehrle "gives the Marlins an estimated $83 million in contract commitments in 2012 for nine players." The team's "final payroll next year should top $100 million." Guillen said, "People always criticize the Marlins because they never spend any money. Now they are spending money and they are criticizing how much money they got. I can't figure it out" (PALM BEACH POST, 12/8). Samson said yesterday, "I have great respect for the process and we could not be happier with Jose Reyes on this team with Heath Bell. When we drew up our offseason plan and how we wanted our team to look, we are in the 'A' box right now" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 12/8).
EXTREME MAKEOVER -- MIAMI EDITION: In Miami, Greg Cote writes the Marlins are "redefining 'extreme makeover' with one of the most astounding metamorphoses in the history of pro sports." It is the "new spending, the voracious aggressiveness of it, that has made this club the talk of South Florida, and of baseball." The Marlins are the "biggest player in baseball free agency even without" reaching a deal for Pujols, and they are "showing no signs of ending their shopping spree." In a "normal year," signing either Bell, Reyes or Buehrle "would have legitimately topped the marquee on this team’s offseason shopping." The idea of Owner Jeff Loria "increasing the payroll sufficient to land all three of them is mind-boggling" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/8). CBSSPORTS.com's Scott Miller wrote under the header, "In Stunning Transformation, Marlins Become The Talk Of Winter Meetings." Miller: "There are not enough ooohs and aaahs in the state of Texas for what they're doing. ... Odds were you would have seen elves in your living room and reindeer on your roof before you would have seen free agents flooding to South Florida on I-95" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/7). In L.A., Dylan Hernandez notes the Marlins "turned the baseball world upside down at the winter meetings this week" (L.A. TIMES, 12/8). The GLOBE & MAIL's Jeff Blair writes Loria and Samson are "turning the baseball world on its head" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/8). In Toronto, Bob Elliott writes under the header, "Marlins Spend Like Drunken Sailors" (TORONTO SUN, 12/8). SportsNet N.Y.'s Jonas Schwartz said, “They seem to have money coming every which way. ... No question, the Marlins are making the biggest splash in baseball right now” (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 12/7). MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger said, “Again, we’ve got to talk the Miami Marlins, not because we’re biased and we’re season ticket holders, but they’re making the most headlines” (“Hot Stove Live,” MLB Network, 12/7). Agent Scott Boras said, "It’s almost like we have a new expansion franchise, isn’t it. It’s like the minnow has become the marlin. It’s fun to watch" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/8).
COUNTING THEIR CHICKENS BEFORE THEY HATCH? SI.com's Joe Lemire writes the Marlins "are baseball's nouveau riche, ready to build a sustainable long-term contender by hedging the bets of future revenues in their soon-to-open ballpark." It is a "risky endeavor as they try not to become a sporting equivalent of last decade's housing bubble burst or last century's dot-com crash." If the fans of the "historically fickle baseball market do respond with attendance that meets the Marlins' projection of 2.8 million ticks of the turnstile," then the team presumably "would also have the ability to retain the club's incumbent young talent," including RF Mike Stanton, LF Logan Morrison and 1B Gaby Sanchez (SI.com, 12/8). The N.Y. Times' Tyler Kepner said the Marlins "are banking on the fact that a fickle fan base will finally start to show up believing that having the retractable roof will cure everything." Kepner: "That ballpark is in a different part of Miami -- it's farther away from Ft. Lauderdale -- and the fans have had their hearts broken a lot by this ownership group and previous ownership groups. There is a lot of skepticism there, even if they get these star players. Who's going to end up paying most of these contracts?" YES Network's Jack Curry said, "You look at what they brought in last year, about a million-and-a-half fans. Jeffrey Loria said he's hoping for 2.8 million. That is a huge leap. You could win 110 games and not go from 1.5 million fans to 2.8. ... I would be shocked if they draw 2.8 million fans next year" ("Yankees Baseball Daily," YES Network, 12/6).
ATTENTION FOR BALLPARK NAMING RIGHTS: Samson indicated yesterday that the signings of Reyes and Bell and the "pursuit of more big-name free agents has sparked interest in companies wanting to attach their name to the retractable-roof park in Little Havana." Samson said, "We certainly have gotten more calls in the past week than I would have expected from people we have never spoken to before, so I’m kind of glad there was nothing announced prior." In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis noted that would "suggest that companies aren’t concerned with implications from the federal investigation by the Securities Exchange Commission into the controversial financing of the ballpark that surfaced last week." Davis also noted the team "plans to sell secondary sponsorships to the four quadrants of the ballpark, but Samson said they wouldn’t finalize those until the primary deal was done" (SUNSENTINEL.com, 12/7).