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Really now, what should the Marlins have done?

Jul 25, 2012, 12:21 PM EDT

The Monstrosity AP

Look, I’d be just as happy to kick Jeffrey Loria to the curb as the rest of you. I’m not going to slam him for all of the sliminess involving the Marlins ballpark deal because in those maneuverings, he’s basically just doing everything Bud Selig wants his owners to do. But, yeah, as far as MLB owners go, I think he’s the worst of the bunch.

That said, what should the Marlins be doing differently right now? They went for it, signing Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to big contracts, and they came up way short. Should they have tried to re-sign Anibal Sanchez to a four-year, $48 million deal and gone forward with the same bunch of guys who couldn’t get it done this year? It wouldn’t have made a lot of sense.

I don’t see this as nearly as disgusting as the Marlins’ previous fire sales. They tried their damnedest with Hanley Ramirez and it just didn’t look like it was going to work out. Trading him wasn’t all about saving money — if the reports are correct, they offered to pay $20 million of what he was still owed in order to get better prospects for the A’s — it was also about trying to build a team in which the pieces fit better than they may look on paper.

And it’s not like the Marlins have done any real damage with their spending. None of the contracts they gave out last winter established a new market for players. Six years and $106 million for Reyes? Someone else would have gone that high had the Marlins not moved so quickly. Four years and $58 million for Buehrle? That’s the deal that looked the most out of line at the time, but then, he made $56 million over the previous four years. Three years and $27 million for Bell? Of course, it looks like a bust now, but he had the track record. Maybe no other team would have gone three years at that rate, but he would have received at least $18 million for two years elsewhere.

Honestly, I think the Marlins are going about things the right way now. Given his history of arm problems and his status as one of the top three free agent pitchers available this winter, Sanchez was going to be a very risky signing. And as great as Ramirez was a few years ago, I’m not convinced he ever would have turned it around in Miami.

But with those two gone, the Marlins are facing their toughest decision; whether to trade Josh Johnson. If they keep him, they’re not going to be in bad position going into 2013. A rotation that includes Johnson, Buehrle and the newly acquired Nathan Eovaldi, along with probably either Ricky Nolasco or Carlos Zambrano andwith two premium youngsters on the way in Jacob Turner and Jose Fernandez looks pretty good. One of the Marlins’ biggest issues this year is that neither Giancarlo Stanton nor Logan Morrison has ever been 100 percent. Stanton still has MVP potential, and Morrison could break through offensively and prove more useful defensively at first base. If they use their savings this week to bring in a premium outfielder and a quality third baseman, they could pose a threat in the NL East.

Or they could continue down this path and sell Johnson. As difficult as he’d be to replace in free agency, it’d make a run in 2013 far less likely. On the other hand, they’d have the chance to continue to add to a farm system that entered 2012 as one of the game’s weakest and maybe bolster their chances for 2014 and beyond. I like the idea of retaining Johnson; the NL East should be winnable next year and the Marlins need to try to keep people interested in coming to their new ballpark. Still, if the Rangers are willing to offer a Hanley replacement in Mike Olt and a quality pitching prospect, it might be hard to turn down.

  1. SmackSaw - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    It’s not a bad deal. Ramirez is a head case. Eovaldi isn’t a bad pick up and the M’s didn’t have to throw money at the Dodgers to take him. They gotta keep Josh Johnson.

  2. ugglasforearms - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    I think this season would have gone better for the Marlins if Ramirez had been dealt when Reyes was signed.

    • willsolo - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      They probably would have got alot more than they got from the Dodgers in this deal, that’s for sure.

      • Old Gator - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:30 PM

        Think that one over, guys. The Hanster was coming off substantial shoulder surgery, had missed the last few months of last season and hadn’t taken a swing yet. If the Feesh had wanted to trade him for anything at all, they would have had to wait several months into the season so that he could demonstrate he had recovered. They’d still be in the same place with him.

  3. hammyofdoom - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    Did anyone think the Heath Bell deal was a good idea though? He was obviously on a downturn and they spent a ton of money on a closer that wasnt going to get any better. A lot of things didnt turn out great for them, but I think that move was the one that was nearly blindingly stupid, while the rest has been a lot of bad luck or just things not working out

    • kopy - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      It’s been a long time since I’ve though any deal given to a closer was a good idea.

    • myopinionisgarbage - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      Giving ANY closer, that isn’t named Mariano Rivera, obscene contract money seems like the dumbest thing in the world to me. Maybe the GMs need to play fantasy baseball so they can see how quickly closers turnover, and readjust their real world value of them.

      • gpatrick15 - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:15 PM

        More like giving ANY closer who plays in the extremely pitcher friendly Petco Park obscene contract money to pitch anywhere BUT Petco Park seems like the dumbest thing in the world to me.

      • Francisco (FC) - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:49 PM

        Umm… have you checked the Dimensions of Marlins Park? It’s LARGER than Petco Park.

      • ptfu - Jul 25, 2012 at 7:02 PM

        It’s not just Petco’s size that makes it a pitchers’ park. It’s the dense nighttime marine air that holds up fly balls and slows them from reaching the seats. Ask Craig what it feels like.

        Bell typically pitched around 10pm and by then the air in San Diego is cold, dense, and damp. The ball flies a lot better in day games, and earlier in night games before the cold air has fully moved in.

        Even an air-conditioned Marlins Park can’t be anything like that.

  4. Old Gator - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    It isn’t difficult to make more sense than Calcaterra, but somehow you managed it anyway Matthew.

    I’m conflicted about Josh Johnson. Right now the Feesh farm looks like a midwest cornfield and they can begin a premium restocking with a trade of JJ. If he weren’t so frangible I would be leaning towards keeping him but because of (a) his lost velocity, (b) his flattening curveball and (c) his wonky back and shoulder, I lean lean a little bit the other way – depending on who they get for him.

    Having said that, I’d rather see them trade Nolasco and/or Zambrano first. But JJ will surely bring the best return – assuming they can move him before he hurts himself again.

    • lorddarkhelmet - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:17 PM

      I kind of agree. JJs health is a serious question mark (particularly long term), seems like now is the best time to get something for him. If Olt is anywhere near as advertised it seems silly not to make the move.

    • danielponce - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:51 AM

      wow a post where your assault on language is limited to one Feesh, a frangible, and a wonky. wonders never cease

  5. thereisaparty - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Olt and a pitching prospect? Why wouldn’t Olt alone be enough for 1.5 yrs of a high-risk, high-reward pitcher? I think it could be reasonably argued that Olt is too much.

    Otherwise, fantastic article. I do not understand the backlash over some sound baseball decisions. Why don’t MLB owners worry about the DBacks and their apparent willingness to trade away Justin Upton? Two MLB-ready arms and salary-relief is a substantial return for the Marlins.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      Pretty much every team in contention could use a potential ace, so I’m sure they can get more than a single blue-chip prospect for 1.5 years of Johnson. Texas gave up Smoak (who was regarded as a blue-chip, can’t-miss type) for 2 months of Cliff Lee, so I would imagine 1.5 years of Johnson should return more than that, health concerns and all. I suppose it all depends on what the other teams are offering.

      • lorddarkhelmet - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:30 PM

        But on most teams JJ isn’t an ace. Lee then was much better than JJ

      • danielponce - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:24 AM

        uhhh jjs an ace. he poste like a 1.3 era last year and repeatedly took no hitters into the 7th and 8th innings before getting hurt

  6. danaking - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    The real issue is perception. The marlins have a bad reputation along these lines, and it’s well deserved. They spent all that money in the off-season, and didn’t even wait a year to start unloading guys who were considered foundation players, including one of the new free agents.

    Make one of these deals–even the Ramirez deal–and nothing gets said. Maybe all the moves are justified and will bear fruit, but, given their history, it sure makes them look either clueless or cheap. or both.

    • lovistemiami - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:00 PM

      Totally disagree, the front office spent a lot of money to build this team. Buerhle’s been as advertised (#2-3 guy in the rotation), Reyes has been down all year (who could have seen that?), and Bell is a disaster (that one I cant apologize for), and they even made a move for Lee (it was a cheap and fast upgrade) to see if they could spark the team after the break. But the team is a trainwreck.. so should they sit and be mediocre for 3-5years?? No, blow the team up and rebuild around Stanton, Lomo, and whatever prospects they get. What’s the point of shooting for .500?

      They have a crappy reputation for the historical fires sales (with 2 WS titles people seem to forget about), but this doesn’t seem like that at all. Of course this is all premised on them reinvesting the Hanley money.. if not then I totally agree with you..

  7. milemarker17 - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Worst owner in baseball? Please. I spent years in the DC area and I’ve lived in South Florida since 2003 and have been watching the Marlins closely since. I’d take Loria over Angelos any day. From the firing of Jon Miller to the unjustified confidence in his own opinions about personnel matters to his attempts to keep the Nationals off local cable — the list goes one and one — no owner has done more to damage his franchise than Peter Angelos.

  8. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Maybe something like Olt and Ogando, since the Rangers seem to view his as a middle reliever anyway. That should help the Marlins now and in the future

    • theawesomersfranchise - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      The Marlins won’t get Olt, nevermind Olt and Ogando. That Olt rumor has already been squashed as the Marlins trying to drive up the price for other teams. Nobody from the Rangers had said such a thing as Olt being available.
      No way Josh Johnson is getting trade for Olt unless the Marlins are giving up more on their end.

    • thereisaparty - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      Olt AND Ogando. You are absolutely delusional

  9. icanspeel - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    I think question people should be asking is.. What will the Marlins do for next year?

    They could go the route of being major buyers in the off season since they freed up salary. If so then these moves will probably seem good. Or they could go the route of just saving money and in that case it may look as if they just wanted to save money

  10. birdsnblues - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Trade/Sell the swap meet looking statue in the outfield to the Cubs for Ryan Dumpster

  11. chiadam - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    The Marlins’ biggest problem is the same problem that every team in Florida has: they play in Florida. No one there cares. They’re the worst fans on the planet. I don’t know how much more evidence owners there need. Just stop trying, because no one will care. Bandwagon fans sprout up like they did during the Rays’ WS run (when the Rays were 28th in attendance until people realized they were going to the World Series), but that fades.

    • sabatimus - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:30 PM

      I think the Rays have some dedicated fans now, but it took them 4 years to realize they had not a good but a great team, and that it might be interesting to check them out in person.

      • bigdogpappad - Jul 25, 2012 at 9:07 PM

        SO… Marlins get a new ballpark and half a season before they ditch it all while the Rays play in an indoor Hell Hole and can’t get out of their lousy deal and into a nice ball park and you wonder why the fans don’t show up on a WS run??? Really?? With Tampa – St. Pete Ft. Myers and everything else to do here you think someone wants to watch them in person on old indoor carpet with 1980’s lighting. Please stay home and watch them on the TV if you must catch a game…

  12. mikeincmn - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    The real test is if they go after guys this offseason. If they go after a few of the top guys, then you really cant rip them too bad since they were just freeing up salary on guys who werent working out.

    Now if they go super thrifty like usual, then they deserve the ripping and poor fan support. I dont think its fair to judge them until we see what they do this off season.

  13. novanation33 - Jul 25, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    I just think this was a poorly put together team. It’s just not as simple as putting together a talented big name roster. Too many big personalities on one team. That clubhouse seemed circus-like at times. There needs to be a certain mindset/attitude in and around the clubhouse and I never thought this team had that.

    As talented as Hanley is (maybe was), to me, he’s just not a winning player. Too much of a me first guy. Guys like that just carry around a negative vibe and a lot of times it affects the rest of the team.

    They need to forget about the newspaper headlines and build around their young, talented, self-motivated guys like Stanton and Reyes.

  14. steelerfanforlife - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    I think it’s the fact they gave up on this after 6 months. They got the stadium built and made it look like they were going to spend big money but the first sign of trouble they start unloading everyone. Now they can go back to being the Marlins who don’t spend and collect millions from the big dogs, much like my beloved Pirates have done(hopefully no longer though!!)

  15. myopinionisgarbage - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    PS – What if….Ruggiano is for real, Stanton comes back in MVP form, young pitchers outperform, and Heath Bell retires? Anyone else seen how frequently the NL east leaders just completely COLLAPSE at the end of the season?

  16. xmatt0926x - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    If the Marlins can get such a highly thought of prospect as Olt for JJ, they should jump on it. There’s no reason to believe that Josh Johnson will ever be what he was or what people thought he was going to be. Is he an ace anymore? He doesn’t look like it. Maybe a good #2 or a very good #3 at best. Great 3rd base prospects seem to be a rare breed.

  17. tcostant - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Did you say “NL East should be winnable next year”. Are you kidding me. The Nationals a year more mature, with less injuries and a full year of Strasburg. The Phils more healthy and will the big three back. The Braves with a FA pitcher and another year of development. This was the year to win the NL East, not next.

  18. drewsylvania - Jul 25, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Uh, you keep the guys who are going to help you win and get rid of the guys who aren’t. You re-sign Sanchez, for instance. And you assume much of Hanley’s contract in order to get a better deal. That’s what teams that fleece taxpayers and get given hundreds of millions of dollars are supposed to do. But not the Marlins. Loria is more than happy to take the stolen money and run, while jerking off to his revenue-sharing check.

  19. Walk - Jul 25, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    They should put that huge eye sore hr statue thing on the trade block. If they get no takers they can option it to the junk yard.

  20. flyeredup - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    Get baseball, football, hockey out of Florida. Joke fans. Bandwagoners that deserve nothing better than AA Ball, College football and no hockey. Sell FLA back to Spain. What a horrific fan.base!

    • danielponce - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:32 AM

      first of all, racist.

      second of all, miami is a perfectly viable market for baseball. there are a ton of baseball fans in miami. just not marlins fans. older fans are yankees/mets fans. younger fans 25-35 are braves fans who watched the braves on tbs before miami had a baseball team. team just needs to get a foothold down here and stop pissing off their fan base. and part of the stadium deal was the marlins have to stay here for 35, 55, or 85 years so theyre not going anywhere

      • lovistemiami - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:06 PM

        Totally absurd and borderline inappropriate comment. And nail on the head daniel.. It’s unfair to compare a fan base with so many immigrants (both of the internal and external variety) who have no historic connection to the team, to other teams’ fans have been fans for generations.

  21. danielponce - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    the marlins are not going to spend the money they save on hanley/infante/sanchez on free agents. buerhle(buerhle, buehrle?) and reyes’ contracts are both backloaded. i think reyes is making $9mm this year and.. mark is making 8. reyes’ contract is for 106 and burlys 58. they still owe 150 million on both after paying only 17 this year. reyes makes 26 in his last year i believe. in short, theres no money for free agents.

    the marlins stated at the meetings, when they were trying to sign pujols, that this season was a total crapshoot. they were spending money, or trying to in the case of pujols, that they didnt have and were banking on the increased revenue from the stadium. with lackluster attendance its clear the marlins cannot continue to have a payroll of $115mm a year. they’ll probably end up spending 75-85 million a year. If they ever go back to spending $57 million a year, you can get upset.

    the main problem with the marlins is their terrible talent evaluation. their only 1st round picks to play for them since 2003 are jeremy hermida and chris volstad. they signed buck fo 18 million after an aberration of a season, during which it was widely reported that the bluejays were stealing signs. they traded hanley at his lowest possible value. they signed bell for 27 million after a couple of seasons of declining velocity, k/9, and swing and miss %. and, as lebatard pointed out yesterday, they are letting beinfest and hill make all the moves now when they’ll most likely be fired next year.

  22. walterwhite1976 - Jul 26, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    I’m shocked that Boston didn’t get another pitcher with arm issues. Being a Red Sox fan, I’m guessing that will happen soon. Oh well, they made their bed now they have to sleep in it, just like the Marlins.

  23. marlinman15 - Jul 27, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    This was an extremely savvy by the Marlins by trading Hanley here is what they can now do they can sign a good center fielder Pagan,Ross,Melky Cabrera and Michael Bourn are all available, Mike Napoli they could sign to play first then sign Edwin Jackson Or Brandon McCarthy, assuming they trade or release Nolasco and his bloated contract and the 2013 Lineup would look like this on opening Day
    1.Reyes,SS The Rotation would be like this: 1.Johnson 2.Bonifacio,3B 2.Buehrle
    3.Stanton,RF 3.Jackson/McCarthy
    4.Napoli,1B 4.Eovaldi
    5.Morrison,LF 5.Turner

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