Award season is starting for MLB and it’s going to be a long one for Fish fans. Miguel Cabrera, fresh off his Triple Crown season and World Series appearance, now is a constant reminder of the wrong direction the Marlins have taken since 2003.
Sure, Miguel Cabrera was putting on weight and there were some maturity issues back when Miggy was looking for his first big contract. The amount of money he was going to command was significant, and the Marlins were cash-strapped and had no real way to bridge Cabrera to when the Marlins would have more revenue. There was no tangible plan on the horizon, at the time, for a new park for the Marlins.
That said, it pains to think of what Miguel Cabrera, teamed up with Hanley Ramirez, would mean for this team’s identity and on-field performance. If you do feel though that the Marlins had to deal Miguel Cabrera, then you would look to what was acquired in return to assess the Marlins moves. In dealing Cabrera along with fan-favorite Dontrelle Willis, they netted back Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin, neither of which made an impact for the Marlins nor even with subsequent teams outside of Maybin’s defensive presence. Basically, the Marlins traded both Cabrera and Willis away for future talent that never arrived. This was not a move to save money as neither player had significant money on the books at the time.
Flash forward to the Hanley Ramirez debacle this season. The Marlins had spent money in the offseason and had a brand new facility to generate new, previously unfathomed revenue. They decided enough was enough and had to deal Ramirez because of maturity issues and other behaviors that just became too much to bear. This was not a financial move because the Marlins had taken the plunge to build a contender. There were concerns about his plummeting performance over the last few years as Hanley’s average has declined from .342 in 2009 to .300 in 2010, .243 in 2011, and .257 in 2012. If the Marlins simply thought Hanley’s time was up, that wouldn’t have been too much of a problem but the Marlins dealt future 3B, Matt Dominguez, for rental Carlos Lee. In fact, they made this deal only a few weeks before they decided to pull the plug on Hanley – which is a clear sign that the Marlins had some mixed signals internally about the direction of the Fish.
If there was doubt about Hanley, they wouldn’t have dealt Matt Dominguez as he could have manned the position for the future. If there were doubts about both players, then perhaps this makes sense. Still, the free agent market for 3B starts, and pretty much ends, with Kevin Youkilis as he is the best option on the board right now.
Which leads us finally back to the Marlins’ hiring of Mike Redmond as their new coach. He is clearly a great pick as an understated guy who has garnered lots of respect throughout the league both as an overachieving player and now as a rising coaching talent. The question is, will the Marlins give him a longer leash than they did with Joe Girardi, Fredi Gonzalez, or even Ozzie Guillen? Girardi was named coach of the year in 2006 – after being let go by the Marlins. Both he and Fredi Gonzalez have skippered their clubs into respectable contenders. All along, the signs pointed towards getting Ozzie Guillen as he was the Marlins’ “guy”. They got him, and he didn’t deliver. They let Ozzie be “Ozzie” and it didn’t pay off.
So, it seems the Marlins latest trend of trying to go big failed. They have to get back to building with pitching, defense, and speed. They have to get back to maximizing talent and overachieving. They do have some extra money to spend this year, as the new ballpark has helped level the playing field, but this front office has to do better with their allocation of funds and identification of talent. Very little has played out the way it should.