This Day in Marlins History: Two Seasons, Three Trades, Two Eras

In Fish Stripes' continued attempt to remind people of the past of the Florida Marlins along with the present and future of the Miami Marlins, we bring you a new feature published three or so times a week entitled This Day In Marlins History! The concept itself is very simple: whenever we publish this, we find an interesting fact or tidbit related to the Florida / Miami Marlins and write a little bit about that event.

On this day, on July 11, 2002 and 2003, the Marlins made a series of trades that signaled different eras in the team's history.

On July 11, 2002, the Fish were seven games back of the Wild Card standings and still in their thrifty, lean years. They also had a number of contracts that were either were coming to term or were not particularly effective for the club, so the Marlins made two moves on the same day and dealt two players invaluable to the team's efforts since 1998. On July 11, 2002, the Marlins famously traded All-Star outfielder Cliff Floyd to the division-rival Montreal Expos (who were only a game ahead of the Marlins at that point in the year) in what turned out to be a nine-player blockbuster move that also sent Wilton Guerrero and Claudio Vargas from the Fish in return for a package headlined by starter Carl Pavano. The Fish also received former first round pick Justin Wayne, utility man Mike Mordecai, and reliever Graeme Lloyd in the deal.

In a separate move on the same day, the team traded struggling righty starter Ryan Dempster to the Cincinnati Reds for Juan Encarnacion, Ryan Snare, and Wilton Guerrero, the same Guerrero who was immediately flipped in the Floyd deal!

This trade was clearly a "sell" move. Floyd was going to be a sought-after free agent at the end of the season following an excellent three-year stretch in which he hit .302/.386/.548 and collected 13 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Dempster had a 4.79 ERA in his last year with the Marlins and looked completely lost, so it was a justified trade.

Who knew that these trades return players who would prove critical to the Marlins' 2003 run for the World Series? Furthermore, who knew that, just one year later, the Marlins would make a deadline "buy" trade that would trade a bright future for an important present piece? Because, as those acquired Marlins later found out, exactly one year later, on July 11, 2003, the Marlins traded former first round draft pick and top prospect Adrian Gonzalez along with Ryan Snare (another piece from last year's trades!) and Will Smith for closer Ugueth Urbina.

Indeed, the Ugueth Urbina - Adrian Gonzalez swap is one that is still hotly debated even now when mentioned among Marlins fans. Urbina was tremendous in his time with the Fish, putting up a 1.41 ERA and 2.80 FIP in 38 1/3 innings of relief. But when he was acquired, he had had a 4.19 ERA and 4.32 FIP with the Texas Rangers, so it was not as though he was impressive when the Fish acquired him. And to pick him up, they gave up one of the team's best prospects and the 31st-best prospect in baseball according to Baseball America. So the Marlins paid a hefty price, and it only looked even heftier after Gonzalez became a regular in San Diego in 2006 and a star in 2009.

Still, each of these two trades, even though they represented different mindsets and different eras in Marlins baseball, both contributed to the team's eventual World Series victory. Pavano played a crucial role in the playoff run, racking up a 2.35 ERA against the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS and making a strong start against the New York Yankees in the World Series; he was the team's second-best starter during the playoff run despite not starting the run in the rotation. He also had a stellar 2004 year afterwards that led to his free agency.

Mike Mordecai may have done little as a Marlin (.238/.293/.317 career as a Fish in 279 PA), but his moment came in the playoffs as well. He hit the epic bases-loaded double that cleared the bags in the eighth inning of the greatest inning in Marlins history against the Cubs in Game Six of the NLCS.

Juan Encarnacion was the starting right fielder for the Marlins throughout most of 2003, and though he was bad (.270/.313/.445, around replacement level after you consider his poor defense), somebody had to play the position.

Of course, Urbina was stellar for the rest of 2003, but even he struggled a little in the playoffs. He gave up two critical runs in his three innings in the World Series, including allowing the Ruben Rivera double that drove in the tying run in Game Four in the ninth inning. Still, he managed to save two games in the series somehow and his contributions during the regular season helped the Fish pull into the playoffs.

Two years, three trades, but two completely different meanings and eras of Marlins baseball are represented on this date. How do you Fish Stripers feel looking back on these trades?

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