Recently, the Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Coonelly was quoted questioning the Marlins commitment to Giancarlo Stanton at the tune of $325M. In fact, when asked for a reaction from a crowd about the signing, Coonelly offered his perspective. It went something like this:
“I just couldn’t get my head around the $325 million. [Samson and owner Jeffrey Loria] said to me, ‘You don’t understand. He has an out clause after six years. Those first six years are only going to cost $107 million. After that, he’ll leave and play for somebody else. So, it’s not really $325 million.'”
David Samson later said that Coonelly reached out to him to apologize for mischaracterizing the situation. The fact that a comment from Coonelly like this would be accepted at face value, however, says a lot. Besides, it wasn’t like Coonelly came out and apologized via the media – according to Samson, it came via text message.
The Marlins had a very busy offseason, to say the least. In fact, Joe Frisaro has stated that not since 2005 have the Marlins been as active. He even gave a run down of all of the transactions. People are scratching their heads: how did Miami do this?
- Nov. 28: RHP Aaron Crow (Kansas City) for Brian Flynn, Reid Redman
- Dec. 10: 2B Dee Gordon, RHP Dan Haren, INF Miguel Rojas (Dodgers) for LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Chris Hatcher, INF Enrique Hernadez, C Austin Barnes
- Dec. 10: RHP Andre Rienzo (White Sox) for LHP Dan Jennings
- Dec. 11: RHP Mat Latos (Reds) for RHP Anthony DeSclafani and C Chad Wallach
- Dec. 17: Signed free agent first baseman Michael Morse, two-years, $16 million
- Dec. 19: 3B Martin Prado, RHP David Phelps (Yankees) for 1B Garrett Jones, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, RHP Domingo German
Dec. 19: RHP Kendry Flores, RHP Luis Castillo (Giants) for 3B Casey McGehee
The Marlins have long had a public perception problem. Most of it was self-induced and it has gone all the way back to 1997 after the first championship when Wayne Huizenga blew up the roster in a fire sale to unload payroll. That was another administration (Dave Dombrowski was a part of that group) but the scars remained.
Now, under the current regime, the Marlins have tasted victory with a 2003 championship but then had to blow apart the roster in 2005 (which Frisaro outlines) due mostly to the failing to secure financing for a new stadium. The ream rebuilt but hit its most recent snag in 2012 when the team was again blown up but not for financial reasons, but because of the fear of mediocrity. In fact, allusions were made to the Mets and Pirates franchises who haven’t tasted anything significant in the post season for some time. Looks like Coonelly doesn’t forgive nor forget – and certainly isn’t about letting the facts get in the way of any argument.
So here are the Marlins, fresh off their record-breaking signing of one of the best young bats in the game. If this had been in New York, Boston, LA, or any other major market, it would have been given a prime spot on the major media outlets sports shows, etc. Instead, it is met with bewilderment, confusion, and good old-fashioned knee jerk reactions. The type of analysis that is about as deep as a New York slice of pizza.
If you read the latest news in baseball, the whole world is focused on the Cubs, White Sox, Dodgers, and even the Padres. These are the teams that made the greatest moves this offseason – the Marlins are mentioned but almost as an anomaly. Like the guy who struck oil in his backyard and is now shelling out for a Maserati. Talking points made, let’s move on.
The pundits – the people who actually get paid for a living to talk about sports – do a horrible job of actually evaluating evidence. They can’t get out of the way of their own biases and their own dogmas. Big market this, tradition, name-branding. That is why when you have a World Series played between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants, there was not a whole lot to talk about. These are two franchises that fly under the radar – the Royals, deservedly so because they haven’t been relevant since Dan Quisenberry and George Brett. The Giants, however, have been one of the best franchises in recent memory – much like the Cardinals. They won’t wow you with their roster, but they win games and win when they matter. Not like the Braves who only seem to care about making it through the regular season, snatching a ticket to the post season and then getting home early to watch everyone else play better than they have.
The Marlins made the moves to shore up the areas they needed to in order to create a sustainable winning team. Need a power bat to help protect Giancarlo Stanton? Check. Need another starter to help anchor the rotation until Jose Fernandez gets back? How about two (that is, if Dan Haren doesn’t retire, which is looking more and more likely each day). Want to improve your team speed while also finding a permanent solution at 2B? Enter Dee Gordon. Heck, why not take your sentimental comeback player of the year and trade him away since you acquired a guy that improves that position as well?
It has been a whirlwind. A lot to absorb for the fans. Most are thinking trading McGehee was a bit too much; that said, no one can say Martin Prado is not a tangible improvement over McGehee. For the Marlins though, the only thing that remains is showing – not telling – the rest of the world that they are serious about contention. Yes, the moves made speak volumes. Now it will be seen whether or not this team plays like a contender. The pressure, for the first time in a long time, is finally going to mount. It will be exciting to see how the Fish respond – and watch others feast on crow the whole way.
And not Aaron Crow, for God’s sake.