The Miami Marlins returned from last December’s MLB Winter Meetings with a new manager (Ozzie Guillen), a new closer (Heath Bell/3yr, $27 million), a new lead-off hitter (Jose Reyes/6yr, $106 million) and a starting left-handed pitcher (Mark Buehrle/4yr, $58 million) — $190 million — to parade around their gaudy new ballpark. It marked the birth of The Franchise and a team-record $101 million payroll. The Marlins were certain their new stars would bring new fans, more wins and a World Series title.
ROI: fourth place, 45 wins, 53 losses, 13 1/2 games back in the National League East.
You can still hear Marlins president David Samson’s haunting words, “Everything sounds good at the winter meetings but it’s the dog days of summer when it matters …” OK, the dog days are here, but after the way the Marlins played in April, June and July, summer in Miami is irrelevant.
I hate to say, “I told you so,” but, I did. Not last week, or last month, but last December.
I am not suggesting I am some brilliant baseball mind or prophet. I will be the first one to tell you, I am not.
In that same post, titled Risky Business in Miami, I wrote, Don’t be surprised if Reyes’ arrival leads to [Hanley] Ramirez’ exit.
Wednesday, the Marlins purged another $6 million from their payroll, trading Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate to the Los Angeles Dodgers for rookie Nathan Eovaldi and minor-league pitcher Scott McGough. The Dodgers also agreed to pay Ramirez $15.5 million next year and $16 million in 2014.
“It’s a business,” said Ramirez. “I just want to play and win. That was the reason I signed here.”
Ramirez is now a fish out a water, flopping his way from a fourth place team in the East to a first place team in the West.
The Marlins traded Ramirez because of his poor performance and steady stream of injuries. Fertilizer. Ramirez balked at the Reyes signing. Ramirez is a clubhouse prima donna. Ramirez punched a dugout cooling fan last month and cut his hand (he forgot to take medication for the injury the hand became infected, forcing him to miss several more games). Ramirez is a slacker on the field. Ramirez is selfish, but we knew that already. So why didn’t Samson, Guillen, Jeffrey Loria and Larry Beinfest recognize it?
“Don’t blame the front office,” Guillen told MLB.com. “I take the blame. I’m the one that should be sad, upset, embarrassed maybe with the fans, with the media, with the hopes. I’m No. 1. I blame myself, first one for making the front office make the move they don’t want to make. The front office was very optimistic — very optimistic about this ball club, and we don’t show them any sign to be more optimistic.”
This coming from a manager who, as of last weekend, believed the organization was not waving the white flag.
“It’s part of our restructuring … it’s time for a fresh change for Hanley Ramirez … it’s time to move on, for both of us,” Beinfest told the media.
Four months into their investment and the Marlins are restructuring. What color is the flag now Ozzie?