The Miami Marlins have had a firestorm of controversy surrounding the team since early November, when the Fish sent away a number of popular players in a fire sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. Since then, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and others have taken the brunt of the blame for the team's current state, and recently Loria has come out to discuss matters with the fans in an open "letter to our fans."
As part of their apparent effort for more openness in communication, Loria and team president David Samson invited a number of media members to a small gathering at Marlins Park, where they fielded questions and discussed topics regarding the team, the trades, Giancarlo Stanton, and the letter itself. Yours truly was among the media members invited.
On Giancarlo Stanton, Loria was understanding of his response to the initial aspects of the trade. "Look, I love Giancarlo, he's a great young talent and I wish him nothing but the best. I have nothing but fond admiration for him. I don't have any negative feelings. Look, he's a young man. If you really look at it, you go to your workplace, you're used to seeing your fellow employees around you, and suddenly three or four guys are gone? It's a little disturbing, and I understand."
On Giancarlo Stanton possibly re-signing with the team, Loria more or less said that it simply was not the right time to discuss this. "We're hoping that moment will come, absolutely hoping that moment will come. But Giancarlo has to play this year, and he's here certainly for the foreseeable future, and we will cross that bridge at the appropriate moment, absolutely."
On whether Stanton will be in Miami going forward, Loria had little to say. "He'll be here this year, and I'm hopefuly he'll come here the next year. When we have an opportunity to talk to him, we'll cross that bridge. We will cross that bridge."
On spending going forward, Loria was clear that the Marlins would not approach a payroll like the 2012 season again. "Last year we had a payroll of...$90 million, close to $100 million. We lost tens of millions of dollars last year. We had to turn back the clock for the moment and push the restart button and look at these young players and see where we are in another year or two...No, we're never going to spend $100 million, we don't have the TV contract to do that, we will one day, hopefully, we will one day."
On Jose Reyes and the comments regarding Loria insisting that Reyes buy a house in south Florida, Loria insists that it was an inaccurate statement. "It was inaccurate. I never told him to buy a house, he was looking for a house. I will tell you that he came to an ALS dinner which I invited him to, he sat two people away from me, he came late. I asked him what he was doing the next week, he told me he was going to Dubai. I said has your wife been down to Miami, he said yes, she's coming down, she's looking for a home. Didn't say anything after that.
"I know that, subsequent to that, I'm not sure of the timing, but probably three or four days after that, Larry came to me with a trade he wanted to do. I immediately called Jose's agent out of respect for him and said 'Jose is going to be traded, I want you to call him before he reads about it.' He hasn't bought a house yet, has he? 'No, he's contemplating.'"
On his reception from folks in south Florida, Loria insists that it remains positive. "Well I will tell you that on Saturday night, I was here at the Food and Wine Festival, I was approached by twenty or thirty people, all of whom congratulated me, said 'You had to do what you did.'"
"The only [negativity] is, you know, what happens daily here, and I'm hoping we can just call a halt to it all and just get behind the home team next year."
On the trade and how well the Marlins did, Loria praised the job that Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill did in acquiring talent while lamenting the loss of Jose Reyes. "When Larry and Micahel focused on the major league club with the best young talent in baseball, and they came up with the Toronto Blue Jays, and we absolutely raided their minor league development system. Last year, we had the 28th-worst record for minor league development. We just didn't have the players. And now we're fifth.
"We traded, Josh Johnson was going to leave this year. John Buck, who wasn't really helping us any. Bonifacio, whom I adore, but he was always hurt. It's about Reyes, and for that I'm sorry, but in order to get us the five or six players we got from Toronto, sometimes in order to get, you got to give."
On the "letter to our fans" published on Sunday, Loria reported positive feedback. "I've gotten a bunch of phone calls, and a number of season ticket holders, said 'Good for you, you finally said something.' And something needed to be said."
Loria finished up by making a similar plea as he did with at the end of the letter, asking for Marlins fans and media to get on the team's bandwagon. "I think we could maybe take a little time out here, and lets go up to Jupiter and I'm happy to meet with any one of you there, when I'm up there, and show you who some of these young players are."
"Climb on the bandwagon and be positive about some of the players that we have here. Because in two years, we're going to say 'What were we doing two years ago with all this?'"
You can hear the full audio over at the Miami Herald's website.