An Open Letter to Jeffrey Loria

Marc Serota

Note: The following is a FanPost by Jigokusabre. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the writers and manager of Fish Stripes. It's close, though, it's very close. -MJ

I know we've beaten the Loria letter to death, but I wanted to put in my two cents.


It's no secret that your open letter has been poorly received by both the media and the fans of the Miami Marlins. Your statements to the media since you deigned to speak publicly regarding the team that you own do not fit into the context of the actions you have taken in your time as the owner of the Miami Marlins. I think it would behoove you to consider these issued and adjust your talking points (or better yet your actions and strategy) accordingly.


You said that "losing is unacceptable," and that the trade to the Toronto Blue Jays will make the team better. Claiming that the trade being approved by Commission Bud Selig somehow validates the trade rings hollow. No trade has been voided by the Commissioner since 1976. Praise for the trade has been mostly on the side of the Blue Jays for almost instantly becoming a contender in the AL East while not surrendering one of their top 4 prospects. While it is true that the Marlins' minor league system improved with the deal, The top 5 name on that list are familiar: Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich, Justin Nicolino, Marcell Ozuna, and Andrew Heaney. All of those player (save Nicolino) were part of the organization prior to the Blue Jays trade.

You said that "We didn't break up the 1927 Yankees," and that's true. The Marlins were picked to contend for the playoffs, and they fell woefully short of that mark. The missing element, however, is that those response for the failure of the 2012 Marlins were not affected by the trade. If you look at the player who had the most negative impact on the 2012 Marlins, you find that they were either off the team already (Heath Bell, Gaby Sanchez, Carlos Lee, Hanley Ramirez) or still remain with the organization (Bryan Petersen, Chris Coghlan, Greg Dobbs, Gorkys Hernandez). The one negative asset that was included in the trade (John Buck) was already demoted to the back-up role, mimimizing his ability to hurt the team.

You object to the term "fire sale," but the only players that actually provided positive benefits on the field are on different teams, save for the ones who are earning at or around leage minimum salaries. If Gorkys Hernandez deserves a chance to make the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Marlins a better team then by what measure does Jose Reyes or Mark Buerhle not?


I am going to skip over the ball park issue, as the blame (if one does choose to assess blame) belongs to the elected officials of Miami. Their obligation is to protect the interests of the residents of Miami, yours is to the interests of the Marlins baseball club. I can only wish that you were as diligent in protecting those interests in terms of the actual team that plays those games.


Saying that the Marlins do not have "unlimited funds," while technically true, speaks to a lack of understanding your position in the eyes of your fans. The Marlins' opening day payroll from 2002-2011 was a combined $410.1 million, the lowest in baseball. The reason for this, according to you and your ownership regime, was that you cannot afford to sustain even the meager payrolls of the 2003-2005 teams. You claimed that the situation with Sun Life stadium prevented you from expanding the talent pool via free agency, or even maintaining fan favorite players like Miguel Cabrera. Meanwhile, business publications like Forbes Magazine reported that you had earned nearly $200 million in profits, and Deadspin revealed that you had supplemented that with payments Double Play Company, a shell organization run by you and David Samson.

Fans remember these things. They know that you've been dishonest about the business aspect of the team previously, and they can see that revenue of all of Major League Baseball has increased. They see larger national TV contracts and expanded merchandise sales, they see the Marlins have a new stadium where you pocket every ticket, concession, parking and advertising dollar, and they see fans turn out in numbers not seen since the inaugural season... and they hear you claim that you lost "tens of millions of dollars." There's a chasm between what you are saying, and what can be independently verified. Unless you are willing to provide evidence of this (and I'm not suggesting that you should), it's your word against the rest of the world, and you've lost the benefit of the doubt.

Should one find themselves charitable enough to believe that the Marlins lost money this year, and to disregard the hundreds of millions earned in the previous nine seasons, you would find them hard pressed to justify cost cutting measures as harsh as the ones demonstrated in the infamous Blue Jays trade. Falling roughly 20% short of projections (or 40% based on Sampson's "turnstile" figure) would not necessitate a 60-70% reduction in team payroll, especially considering that the stadium has a much stronger revenue flow than what was available in Sun Life Stadium.


The heart of the issue lies in a lack of credibility. You say that losing is unacceptable, but you continue to turn over the rosters. You say that fan outrage is limited to the media and a "few crazy phone calls," but then gloss over the abuse and vitriol absorbed by those who maintain your social media pages in favor of "20 or 30 people" at some food and wine festival. You say that you trust your "baseball people" when they have failed to build a single playoff team in the wake of trading away the core that John Henry and Dave Dombrowski built. Ozzie Guillen and Joe Girardi lose their jobs after a one bad season, but Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill still have jobs after having 0 of their previous 14 first round picks become contributing Major League players and executing arguably the worst trade in Major League history.

You can say that you want to run a successful Major League franchise all you want, but your actions speak far more loudly, and they speak to a far more cynical motivation for maintaining ownership. You can point to the World Series that the Marlins won in 2012, but your track record since then speaks for a far dimmer future for the franchise. What credibility that you’ve earned has been spent, and you cannot continue to make the same decisions and expect different results.


The fans

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