Whatever your opinion of Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was following the November fire sale trade with Toronto, it would be hard to believe that last week's comments changed your view.
Speaking to the media, over a span of three days, for the first time since he sent half of the Marlins' 2012 Opening Day roster north, Loria didn't say much that fans didn't already know. However, when a member of the media pointed out that baseball fans around the country have been calling the Marlins a minor league team, Loria was quick to shut the idea down.
"These are not Triple-A ballplayers. If you want to use those terms, I can't prevent it,'' Loria said when a Miami TV reporter used that phrase to describe how Marlins fans perceive the stripped-down roster. "It's not a Triple-A ball club. It's a ball club with some pretty impressive players.''
There is no denying that players such as Justin Nicolino and Adeiny Hechavarria are impressive and have a lot of talent. On the contrary, though, it would be difficult to admit, because of the statistics and history against it, that the players sent to Toronto, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes just to name a few, weren't impressive players. They just had an off year.
Loria also made the mistake of saying something that, regardless of whether it is true or not, the typical sports fan does not want to hear.
"We've put together a championship-caliber team of young players, a large group of them," he said. "We're going to field an excellent team in the next two or three years that you're going to be proud of. I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe what I think."
Loria and the rest of the Marlins' front office did the best they could to field a competitive team with a minuscule payroll while the team played at Sun Life Stadium. However, Marlins Park changed that. Loria promised change, and a year after one poor season, no fan wants to listen to an owner say the team won't be able to compete for two or three more seasons. Despite it all, Marlins fans did.
Loria said that he "doesn't want to be like the other major league baseball teams." He's certainly made that clear.
"I did not want to be like some other teams in Major League Baseball. They make one or two changes each year, and they never have winning seasons. We've had a lot of winning seasons through this decade," Loria said.
The 8-7 loss to the Twins on Friday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium featured the final performances of the early part of spring training for three Marlins headed to the World Baseball Classic: slugger Giancarlo Stanton, starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez and closer Steve Cishek.
The seesaw saga over who said what and when continues between Jose Reyes and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reported Thursday that Reyes continues to stick by his story that Loria urged him to buy a home in South Florida before trading him.
After missing time because of various injuries, right-hander Michael Wuertz is ready to prove he can still pitch. "I feel good about where I am," he said.
It’s an award Chris Coghlan cherishes but it’s one he says does not define him. And if the Marlins outfielder had never been voted the 2009 NL rookie of the year, his struggles the past three years likely would not have been so noteworthy. Coghlan is in camp and trying to win a spot on the roster as an outfielder. "It’s been humbling, it’s been great, it’s been up and down, it’s been every which way emotional," Coghlan said. "That’s my story. That’s what I’ve been dealt. I don’t feel sorry for myself."
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria on Monday night defended the front office’s controversial November trade, urged fans to have patience as the club rebuilds and said he has no plans to sell the team. "I love this ball club and I like what we’ve done now. It’s a little painful for a lot of people, but, no pain, no gain,’’ he said in his first remarks to South Florida media since trading five front-line players to Toronto.
On his first trip to Roger Dean Stadium this spring, owner Jeffrey Loria spent Tuesday morning trying to dispel the notion that his Marlins are a minor-league team. "It’s not a Triple-A ball club. It’s a ball club with some pretty impressive players," Loria said.
Adeiny Hechavarria’s reputation as a sure-handed shortstop started when he was a little kid in Cuba playing with a ping-pong ball. He now has to prove that his glove can be good enough to replace that of an All-Star after Jose Reyes' departure. "Hanley Ramirez called us and told us what an incredible shortstop he is,’’ Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said Monday in remarks defending the trade. "When Hanley tells you, ‘He is better than I am, you’ve got a great guy with great hands,’ it’s amusing to listen to.’’
Not much rattles 20-year-old Jose Fernandez when he’s on the mound – unless, of course, he looks toward home plate and sees his manager squatting down with a catcher’s glove. Fernandez threw to manager Mike Redmond in his spring debut, and according to Redmond, was impressive. "He’s got a good head on his shoulders,’’ Redmond said. "He is going to be special, whenever that day comes.’’
Retired All-Star Mike Lowell said he doesn’t blame Marlins fans for being angry at the club’s roster purge, but he also thinks the team can surprise people this year. "I think there’s a lot more talent than people think on this team,’’ Lowell said Thursday after arriving in Marlins camp as a guest instructor. "Now, how that translates, how soon, we’ll see. But I think the stereotype that there’s no chance of winning here, I don’t think that’s the case.’’
Spring Training statistics may not matter, but performance does. That's what bothers Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner, who had a rough day on Thursday. Turner didn't make it through the first inning, allowing six runs in the process. "Every time you go out there, you're trying to compete," Turner said. "You want to do good every time. It doesn't matter to me if the statistics count or don't count. It stings the same."
Already one of baseball's premier power hitters at age 23, Giancarlo Stanton is out to prove he's a five-tool player. Stanton increased his offseason conditioning by doing more running, and hopes to become the total package in the coming year. "He's a special player," manager Mike Redmond said. "[Stanton] can throw. He can play defense. He hits. He hits for power. He does it all. He's a five-tool guy."
Each morning at 8 a.m. ET, the Marlins "Breakfast Bunt Club" is open for business on a back field at the Roger Dean Stadium complex. Joe Espada and outfielder coordinator Tarrik Brock spend their mornings going through bunting drills, because "bunting will be a huge part of our game," Espada said.
With Giancarlo Stanton about to be away for a few weeks for the World Baseball Classic, the Marlins will have plenty of candidates to bat third in the order. Catcher Rob Brantly is a possible candidate. "You don't see too many catchers batting in the three-hole," Brantly noted.
Around The League
Tim Lincecum was scratched from his second Cactus League start Saturday because of blister issues.
One day after Nelson Cruz's chest soreness put a scare into the Rangers, the right fielder was in the lineup and resuming baseball activities on Saturday, batting fourth against the D-backs.
Felix Hernandez will throw a live batting practice session Sunday, and he's scheduled to pitch in his first Spring Training game Thursday.
At Fish Stripes
The final member of Miami's excellent outfield prospect trio, Marcell Ozuna, features the best power bat in the system, earning him fifth place on the Fish Stripes 2013 Top Miami Marlins Prospects list.
The Miami Marlins' newest pitching acquisition is former Toronto Blue Jays flamethrower Henderson Alvarez, who has tantalizing stuff that fails to induce swings and misses. How will his Pitch F/X scouting report from 2012 match up?
Florida native Justin Nicolino is another intriguing addition to the Marlins' system by way of Toronto. If he keeps up his current pace, he could make his way to Marlins Park sooner rather than later.
The Miami Marlins are looking for pitcher Henderson Alvarez to develop his tools into refined weapons against hitters, and given his already fantastic sinker, the optimist sees only a small ways to go before he becomes a quality starter.
The Miami Marlins will be relying on the inexperienced 23-year-old Adeiny Hechavarria as their starting shortstop heading into the 2013 season. Hechavarria ranks seventh on the Fish Stripes Top Miami Marlins Prospects list.