Marlins Insist Hanley Ramirez Trade Is Part Of Restructuring, "Not A Fire Sale"
The Marlins yesterday traded 3B Hanley Ramirez and P Randy Choate to the Dodgers, and Monday sent P Anibal Sanchez and 2B Omar Infante to the Tigers, but team President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest "insists the proper word for what's going on here is 'restructuring,' as opposed to 'dismantling' or some other distasteful term," according to Mike Berardino of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Beinfest said, "We're in this brand-new building. It's beautiful. It's done its job, and the team has underachieved. This building deserves better. I think our fans deserve better." Berardino writes there seems to be "little rational reason to fear these rebranded Marlins will simply pocket the substantial savings from this week's salary dumps (and those still to come)." Rather, this "flurry of moves can't be judged properly until mid-December." That will give the front office "another chance to rule baseball's winter meetings, where Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria dropped" a combined $191M on SS Jose Reyes and Ps Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle in '11 (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/26). Marlins President David Samson said, "This is not a fire sale. This is saying: Mediocrity really isn't good enough. We're not trying to be a .500 team. We're trying to be much better" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 7/25). Reports are Marlins P Josh Johnson might also be on the trading block, and ESPN’s Buster Olney reported the Marlins are “aware of the perception around the game that this might be another fire sale." Olney: "They don’t want that. ... From a baseball perspective, the deals they’ve made so far make complete sense, but they are nervous about that perception” ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 7/25).
IT JUST LOOKS BAD: SPORTING NEWS' Anthony Witrado cited sources as saying that other teams' front offices "are looking down on this latest Marlins fire sale." An MLB agent said, "It just looks bad for baseball. Teams will take their players, but I've already heard concerns about how the Marlins do business in the past. This doesn't help" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 7/25). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "What’s happening in South Florida is not good because it doesn’t appear the Marlins know what they’re doing” ("Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 7/25). ESPN's John Kruk said, "It’s difficult to sell the fans on a team when the front office has no idea what they’re actually going to do come next week" (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN, 7/25). MLB Network’s Larry Bowa said, “It’s going to be hard to convince your fan base this is not a fire sale because you’re getting rid of some players and the return, I don’t think is looking too good right now” (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 7/25).
TIMES OF UPHEAVAL: SI.com's Cliff Corcoran wrote the Marlins' moves signal the "dissolution of the Miami Marlins team that created so much buzz this past winter." For all of their "rebranding and relocating, the Miami Marlins have done the one thing their fan base is least likely to tolerate, which is to bring back memories of the fire sales that followed" the team's World Series wins in '97 and '03 (SI.com, 7/25). FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote, "Yes, the Marlins are about to go through yet another violent upheaval, though with a different motivation than in the past." Trading Sanchez and Infante was "an admission by the Marlins that they didn't know what they were doing last winter." The Marlins "did not trade Sanchez and Infante for payroll reasons," but rather made the deal "because they're disgusted by their underachieving team, and want to try something different" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/24). MLB Network's Kevin Millar said, "It just hasn't worked out. They were the biggest buzz going into winter meetings. It was an exciting time to be a Marlins fan: New stadium, new colors, new budgets. ... (But) nothing's happened, nothing's worked" ("Intentional Talk," MLB Network, 7/24).
TAKING THE HEAT: CBSSPORTS.com's Scott Miller wrote, "You can't help but believe disappointing attendance is triggering much of this as well." The Marlins' "average attendance of 28,398 ranked 14th in the NL." Miller asked, "Did the Marlins fail their fans by putting together a losing and unlikeable team? Or did a lukewarm fan base that is not exactly flooding the turnstiles at Marlins Park force the issue by their apathy and cause Loria to bail early?" Miller: "Either way, it's another ugly chapter in Marlins history" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/25). NBCSPORTS.com's Craig Calcaterra asked, "Someone, somewhere, explain to me why anyone in Miami should give a flying fish about the Marlins? What possible reason should any baseball fan in south Florida have for giving a dime to a team run by Jeff Loria?" (NBCSPORTS.com, 7/25). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote, "When Jeffrey Loria and David Samson are involved, it can't end any other way, because they know no different." Loria and Samson are "turning the Miami Marlins into a chop shop." They are "two charlatans, ripping off a major American city and laughing all the way to the bank" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/25).
GOOD BASEBALL SENSE: FANGRAPHS.com's Dave Cameron wrote, "In reality, underperforming teams that aren’t in the playoff race trade expensive underachievers and pending free agents every year." It is "not fraud, it’s baseball." Whether it can be "interpreted other ways or not, these trades make baseball sense." Cameron: "You can view them through the lens of 'Evil Jeffrey Loria Screwing Over His Fans Again' if you want, but I don’t think the facts really support that kind of conclusion" (FANGRAPHS.com, 7/25). In Miami, Greg Cote wrote the Marlins' trades "do not constitute a fire sale." This might "need a revisit and still turn toward a feeling of here-we-go-again if prior to the July 31 trade deadline more significant players depart." But as of now, this situation "is in no way comparable to the genuine fire sale that followed" the Marlins’ '97 World Series win. When good teams "are broken up for financial reasons, that’s a fire sale." When bad teams "are broken up because they aren’t winning, that’s closer to a garage sale" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/26).
CHANGING TIDES: In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes Dodgers fans "more than anything" want Dodgers Owners Guggenheim Baseball Management "to show a commitment to winning." In trading for Ramirez, the Dodgers made a statement "as plain as green and white." The Dodgers "finally have the means and motivation to throw a bunch of money at a championship" (L.A. TIMES, 7/26). In California, Vincent Bonsignore writes, "It's a whole new ballgame for the Dodgers. ... The new Dodgers pay in cash, thank you very much" (Long Beach PRESS-TELEGRAM, 7/26).