I've been meaning to post this for some time, but this is the first time in a while I spend a significant period of time at my computer.
So as we all know, the Marlins' new ballpark has been approved, assuring baseball is here to stay in Miami. I'm sure this brings a lot of excitement to fans everywhere, and maybe even conflicting emotions in regards to the current economy and the timing of this deal. This is not the focus of this post. I am posting this because I'd like to share my view of what the payroll for this club will be going forward and beyond 2012 when the park opens.
Many Marlins fans will jump to the conclusion that this new stadium means more of a revenue stream coming to the club and thus more money being shelled out to big-time free agents. I'm here to shoot down such notions. Sure, this is what the organization and fans have been waiting for: larger revenue coming into the team to be used on players and not lease payments at Dolphins Stadium. But that is not this team's track record. The Marlins have a very particular way of running their business. Overpaying for players is not one of them.
I do not doubt that this organization is about winning and being competitive, which they've done. And, hopefully, this new stadium will prompt them to open up their wallets some more. But don't get ahead of yourselves, fans. It's not as though suddenly the Marlins will be players in sweepstakes for the likes of Mark Texeira or C.C. Sabathia. I believe the Marlins will spend on players that are fiscally beneficial.
Let's face it. As much as it frustrates us sometimes to not be in play for top flight free agents, the Marlins know how to maximize the talent they have available to them. They know that the A-Rod's and ManRam's of the world are few and far between. those are players that come along only once every generation. And as great as those players are, they don't assure you success or championships. Most players only give you about 4 or maybe 5 years of solid production. And that is what the Marlins try to do: capitalize on that time window. And it works for them, and that's fine.
I'm not here to say that the Marlins will continue their bargain-basement ways. They better not. Not only will it shed bad light on the organization to continue in their current spending habits with a new revenue income (especially since the team chose to not open its books during stadium negotiations), but also it is not what our great city deserves. Our market is deserving of a competitive payroll. Granted, it will never be on the level of the Yankees or Red Sox, which is fine, because their form of spending doesn't assure anything and is somewhat irresponsible. But I feel that a middle-of-the-pack payroll is acceptable. If anything, it'll be money mostly spent on resigning their own talent. Rather than go after the Texeira's of this world, how about resign your own home-grown, elite talent, which they have shown they can produce. Sure, it'd be nice to go after a good tier 2 free agent every once in a while, and Miami is still a prime free agent destination, but Sampson and Co. know how to use the business of baseball to their advantage. They know players don't become free agents for almost 6 years, and not arbitration-eligible for 3 years. So they use the time they have control of that player's rights to their full advantage. Players can earn their pay, year-to-year, through arbitration, and if there is a player they feel they can make a long-term commitment to, then they can do it. If anything, this stadium means keeping a few more of those home-grown talents.
If anything, this post is to diminish false hopes some fans might have about the future of the payroll. No one should think the Marlins will suddenly be spending at the rate of the Mets or Dodgers. Frankly, as we all know what kind of sports town this is, the Marlins will always remain a small- or mid-market team, unless they become a baseball powerhouse, perennial contenders, and market themselves in Latin America as the "Team of the Americas", bringing in a whole other form of revenue and popularity. That's for another post, another day. In the meantime, we can enjoy this team's success now, as this team is competitive year in, year out. And we can rest assured that soon the Josh Johnson's and Dan Uggla's of the world won't have to look elsewhere for their big payday, but instead can look right here, in South Florida, and remain part of what could be the next great baseball team. With the Marlins' history, who's to say it ain't so.