This week, the news coming out of the Miami Marlins' front office is that owner Jeffrey Loria has taken over a hefty amount of control of the team. Marlins fans already knew that Loria was significantly involved in "his" preferred personnel moves, to the point that he has marginalized president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and his camp, including general manager Michael Hill.
I echoed the sentiments of most Marlins fans in saying that Loria should not be running day-to-day operations for the Fish. But at the same time, Wendy Thrurm of FanGraphs points out that there is little that we can do about this.
Loria’s been mildly chastened by the commissioner a few times, at the urging of the players’ association, who’ve loudly complained that Loria pockets his revenue-sharing money and doesn’t spend nearly enough on payroll. Mostly Loria’s come in for public condemnation, from reporters and columnists like Ken Rosenthal and Clark Spencer, and from fans. I may not like what Loria says or does. You may not like what Loria says or does. But there’s not much we can do about it.
As we have seen in the past, the Marlins have taken their slaps on the wrists in stride, but have not significantly changed their culture since Loria has taken over the franchise in 2002. After the 2009 season, the Marlins were told to spend more of their collective bargaining money, and Loria followed through appropriately, but the franchise returned right to their money-hoarding ways after last season's fire sale trade. That conveniently coincided with the end of the team's agreement with the Player's Association and MLB.
But as Jigokusabre and other readers here on Fish Stripes have mentioned, there is no reason for Major League Baseball to get significantly involved. Loria may legitimately be too poor to run a baseball team at average payrolls, but he has not affected baseball's overall profits. Frank McCourt, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers, threatened to mess up TV contracts for future baseball franchises for years by accepting a terrible TV deal, and that finally forced baseball's hand to intervene.
The only way that fans can stand up to Loria is via his pocketbooks, but MLB's system is set up to support small-market teams, allowing for profits at very low payrolls regardless of revenue. Significant losses of money could force Loria out, but the situation would have to be dire.
Up until that point, Loria is fully within his right to do whatever he wants with the franchise. It is, after all, his investment, however light that investment initially was. He can choose to run the team as he thinks will benefit it. It would be nice, however, for him to realize that hiring and listening to his employees may better his team's chances of winning and attracting fans. The logical line of thinking about running a team, with both front office and owner input involved, serves both parties best. The front office performs their job and earns their salary, while ideally the owner earns money from the success of the franchise.
Until Loria learns that lesson, the team will continue to suffer through cycles of success and failure. His decision-making is likely not wise for the future of the team, but as Jim Bowden mentioned in his interview with Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, it is perfectly within his right to run the team as he sees fit and to have input in the decisions. In the Marlins' case, what is appropriate for the franchise and its owner is not necessarly what is right for it, and that is the team's biggest dilemma.