Earlier today, we discussed how poorly the Miami Marlins season went in terms of failed expectations, and indeed the problems the Marlins faced in losing so many games this year were due to the fact that the team did not meet the expected level that they displayed before the season. Heading into the 2012 season, the Marlins looked like a better ball club than they turned out to be.
It is for that very reason that the Marlins decided to change directions so quickly after embarking on a new era of Marlins baseball just a few months prior. The Marlins front office and owner Jeffrey Loria decided in July that the team was not going to compete with its current core, most of which was set to stick around until at most 2014. While the 2012 era Marlins were supposed to last for three years to see if the team could vie for contention in the National League, the actual experiment lasted three months. The Marlins shipped off Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante, and Anibal Sanchez in two separate deals before the trade deadline and also dealt Edward Mujica and Gaby Sanchez on the deadline.
This aspect was left in the "What Went Right" section, but the truth is that this aspect of the 2012 season was perhaps one of the most ambiguously positive or negative things of this year. In analyzing the deals individually, the Marlins seemed to get a proper return for the players they sent. In sending Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante away, the team received near-perfect returns in top prospect Jacob Turner and a package also including catcher Rob Brantly and reliever Bryan Flynn. In trading Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team received the best prospect they could get back in return for what increasingly looked like an overpaid deal in Ramirez and his contract. The deadline deals traded what turned out to be small pieces, and in one of the deals the Marlins at least made away with a player who was recently ranked highly among the prospect lists.
At the same time, there were definite questions about in what state these trades left the Marlins. In particular, these trades dealt two pieces that were supposed to hold spots on the team until at least 2013, and suddenly those pieces were gone with no replacement left behind. The Marlins traded the team's 2013 starting second baseman and their 2013 and 2014 starting third baseman, and given their distinct lack of minor league depth over the years, the club had no ready replacements for either player and were left searching for temporary options. The Marlins even traded their only third baseman prospect, Matt Dominguez, in an early July rental deal to acquire Carlos Lee.
Those trades helped the Marlins grab young prospects to fill holes for the future, but the team also opened up problem areas for the next two years in the process of filling places up for the next six seasons. While Jacob Turner and Nathan Eovaldi take up rotation spots that will soon open widely thanks to departures by Ricky Nolasco and Josh Johnson, the team also left their immediate group talent-less at two positions with no hope of acquiring help. And in one case, Ramirez was expected to be part of the anchor that led this team to contention, but he turned out to no longer be that player. Unloading his contract was likely necessary, but even at his current level, he would have been a better contributor than anyone the Marlins could scrounge up from the minor leagues in the next few years.
In the end, the trades were made with the future in mind, and that should upset fans of a franchise that promised contention as quickly as possible. Yes, the Marlins are better set up for the post-2014 world, but 2012 itself went poorly as a result of these trades and 2013 may also not fare well. At the same time, the Marlins escaped from underneath Ramirez's contract and returned great value for half a season of a pitcher leaving for free agency and an average second baseman, so it is hard to argue against those trades in a vacuum as anything other than positives for the future of this organization.
What did you Fish Stripes readers think about the trades? Something that went right this season or something that went wrong? Let us know in the comments.