The Miami Marlins spoke out with the media at length yesterday, as owner Jeffrey Loria and team president David Samson revealed information regarding the 2012 season and the decisions that were made that eventually led to the fire sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. There was a lot of material that was merely rehashed as reasoning behind the whole ordeal, but sprinkled within the interview were little important nuggets that will definitely have an effect on the future of the Marlins franchise in the years to come. Here is some of the information I found most interesting.
Payroll Will Never Be $100 million Again
Jeffrey Loria distinctly ruled out the possibility of a $100 million payroll ever again in his comments. This comes as no surprise, as many fans felt the team would discontinue its spending ways after last season. Nevertheless, we had previously heard that the Marlins would at least be willing to reinvest the money that they saved in cost-cutting moves such as the trade of Hanley Ramirez. However, according to them, given their financial state as of right now, reinvestment is not an option.
You can certainly question whether the Marlins really lost the millions that they purport they did, especially in light of documentation that was revealed from 2007 and 2008 in which the team claimed poverty and actually made a fair amount, but at least Loria gave good reasoning for why the franchise simply could not compete with the high payrolls of other teams. Loria cited the team's TV contract as the primary reason why the club cannot reach $100 million again, and indeed the Marlins' TV deal is not a good one. Furthermore, the team is locked into the contract until 2020, although Loria mentioned the possibility of renegotiating the deal earlier.
Regardless of the reasoning, you can forget the Marlins boasting that high a payroll anytime soon.
The "All-In" Approach
Many fans considered the possibility that this franchise was just putting up a ruse in terms of spending so that fans could be appeased and excited about the 2012 season. These fans expected a trade-off of this magnitude coming this winter, and they were vindicated in that thought process.
It seems that Loria and Samson were thinking in similar ways as well, however, and that is a surprising admission. Samson admitted that the team's "all-in" approach covered the first season of baseball in Marlins Park, and that if attendance disappointed to such a degree, the possibility of trading off parts was very real. The Marlins began that process in midseason, even as I clamored that the team was not performing a fire sale and that they were merely trading pieces that needed to be dealt from a non-contender. But for the Marlins, the possibility of a one-year experiment was in the cards, and all of the in-season circumstances that needed to happen to make that a reality did indeed occur.
Of course, no matter what the Marlins officially say, perception is too strong at this point to override. Even if this was only an emergency contingency for Loria and company, it is going to appear like it was the plan all along, even had the team won games. And no matter what they believe with regards to the effect on re-signing Giancarlo Stanton or attracting free agents to Miami, the previous seasons of Marlins baseball are critical in showing the reverse. Stanton, like Miguel Cabrera before him, has a time limit with the Marlins simply because the team has very little time and leverage with which to convince to stay, and free agents will only hear the horror stories about their treatment by Loria from guys like Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle before thinking twice about coming to Miami.
Turnstiles and Attendance
One of the circumstances that had to likely happen to make the Marlins contemplate a fire sale like this was the poor attendance at the new ballpark. It was well-known that Marlins Park drew the lowest attendance for a first-year stadium in the modern era, but the final tally of 2.2 million in attendance more than eclipsed most of the Marlins' previous seasons. That 2.2 million mark was the highest since the team's inaugural season.
However, the tally also missed the mark with the Marlins' supposed projection of 2.8 million, and Samson claims that the situation is even worse than that. Samson mentioned that the actual turnstiles count (the number fans in actual attendance during games) had dropped down to 1.4 million with the team expecting at least 2.4 million and no worse than two million in their worst-case scenario. When the fans do not show up to games, they also pass on things like parking and concessions, and apparently that made a major difference in the bottom line for the Marlins.
However, a loss of one million to their expected attendance is a drop of 42 percent, which still is lower than their 60 percent cut of payroll this season. This could also be due to rising costs on their share of the stadium, and obviously fans are still mostly oblivious to the team's true finances, but you can be sure that fans are still questioning whether the addition of turnstiles has that significant of an effect on the team's budget. Then again, it did not take a genius to see that Marlins Park was not filled to the announced attendance, and that apparently was happening even before the team's trades, as many outside media members pointed out.
Front Office Moves and Evaluating the Front Office
Samson mentioned that the Marlins had to evaluate their players separate from their financial situation, and that the team's finances had little effect on the chances of them attracting free agents or retaining players. Once the finances cleared up, players should have no problem coming to Miami once again.
This may be Samson's or Loria's opinion, but I am not buying it. This is also fundamentally why their party saw no problem in perpetrating the trade, as they did not believe that the move jeopardized their ability to do the two important things that contenders need to do: keep highly talented, homegrown players at home and sign veterans who can supplement the team. Given that Giancarlo Stanton was angry at the onset of the trade and has yet to be willing to discuss anything about his relationship with the team other than that he is ready to play in 2013, it sounds less and less likely that he will be retained, especially if the Marlins struggle in 2013 and 2014 both on and off the field. As for free agents, it is hard to believe that players will come to Miami after what they heard about the franchise's dealings, even if Loria insists some of the information was incorrectly reported.
The Jose Reyes Comments
Loria mentions that Reyes's comments on Loria insisting he buy a house were patently incorrect, and that Loria merely inquired about his search for a home. This is nothing more than "he said, she said," though it is difficult to believe that Reyes is lying, as Loria seems to be implicating. Reyes's comments do seem a little vindictive, but nothing that would indicate he would ruin his good name to tattle on his old owner, especially when he now seems to want nothing to do with his old team.
Loria, on the other hand, sounds like he is merely defending himself, as well he should. Nevertheless, this could merely be both parties unable to remember exactly what happened, and as in all cases of such discussions, there are three sides to the story, and we have yet to see the actual truth.
Fish Stripers, what did you think of the interviews with Samson and Loria and the topics discussed here? Let us know your thoughts and what you found interesting about the interviews.