Jeffery Loria sang a great song, didn’t he? Like Lyle Lanley selling Springfield a monorail, Loria convinced us all that the Marlins had turned a new leaf. He finally secured his new stadium and celebrated by unveiling a new look for the team. He went and traded for the manager he wanted, getting Ozzie Guillen to pilot his new ship. He took it a step further and spent money like we had never seen in Florida, signing the likes of Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, and Heath Bell. Hell, Loria even danced convincingly with Albert Pujols over the winter.
The long and short of it is, Loria finally built excitement in South Florida again. After years of tearing down and selling off, the Marlins fans finally had a team of marketable players to get behind. The front office felt like it was building something and fans were excited, and they showed it by raising the average nightly attendance by nearly 9000 fans.
Unfortunately, the season itself has not played up to or off of that excitement. They struggled out of the gate and never quite lived up to the hype of the offseason. And when good teams do not perform up to expectations, changes are bound to happen. When good teams in Florida do not perform up to expectations, something else happens.
That’s right folks, the Marlins are having a fire sale.
Sure, Larry Beinfest may deny that the Marlins are once against selling everything but the kitchen sink, saying “I would not use the term ‘white flag.’ I would not use ‘fire sale.’ These moves were not payroll motivated. They were player motivated. However, baseball fans have seen this act before. They know when the fire drill starts and they know when it ends, with all players of any value in playing in new uniforms.
“I would not use the term ‘white flag.’ I would not use ‘fire sale.’ These moves were not payroll motivated. They were player motivated.”
The first move occurred Monday when Miami traded starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez and utility infielder Omar Infante to the Tigers for top prospect Jacob Turner, Brian Flynn, and Rob Brantly. This is a justifiable move for Miami, as Sanchez is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and at 29, was going to command more than the Marlins would be willing to pay him. In return, they acquire Turner, who is ranked as the 10th best prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com. This isn’ indicative of a fire sale; it’s just smart baseball by a team that is out of contention.
However, the second move is much more like it. Late Tuesday night, the Marlins flipped third baseman Hanley Ramirez and reliever Randy Choate to the Dodgers in exchange for right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough. The Marlins again get a top pitching prospect, with Eovaldi being ranked number 2 in the Dodger organization by both Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs. Eovaldi is ready to step right into the Marlins rotation.
However, we are talking about Hanley Ramirez, a former corner stone of the organization that had fallen out of favor over the last two seasons. Certainly, a change of scenery was due, especially after the debacle around moving Hanley to third and making room for Jose Reyes, but couldn’t the Marlins have gotten more for their buck? Seems like the A’s, who are dying to upgrade in the infield, would have been willing to pay more, especially in major league ready talent.
But the worst is knowing that the Marlins are not yet done. They are still likely to try and move Josh Johnson, especially now that his price will rise in the wake of Cole Hamels resigning with the Phillies. The Marlins may wait to see what starts happening with either Zack Greinke or Matt Garza, but Johnson will be moved. Logan Morrison and Carlos Lee may get dangled out there. About the only player who will be truly untouchable is Giancarlo Stanton.
No, these Marlins may look different and they may play in a different house, but these are the same old Marlins indeed. And when you play for the same old Marlins, everything is for sale.