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Fish Bites: Is It A "Fire Sale"?

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You know things currently are not going well if the best baseball-related news you receive prior to the July 31 trade deadline is that your $515 million dollar ballpark will be hosting the second round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic. And that is exactly what the Miami Marlins have been told.

For a front office that usually gets the most out of players they sign to minor league contracts and add to the big league roster, the Miami Marlins' top officials arrived at the annual Winter Meetings with an aggressive approach. The Marlins were hoping to add key pieces, and did so in signing Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell. However, with the exception of a franchise-best month of May, the Marlins have had a disappointing season thus far throughout what many (most recently on The Franchise) called "the most important baseball season in South Florida history."

Larry Beinfest and company have publicly said, as they should have, that "this team is not where we expected it to be." And after doing all they possibly could to try and improve this team (trading for Justin Ruggiano and Carlos Lee), they have admitted that they feel this team is not going to have another May-like run. And as a result, though hesitant to admit it, the Marlins are slowing becoming sellers and preparing for the future.

The first of two trades occurred on July 23, as the Marlins sent Anibal Sanchez (who becomes a free agent at the end of the season) and second baseman Omar Infante to Detroit for pitchers Jacob Turner and Brian Flynn, along with catching prospect Rob Brantly.

During the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the Marlins sent Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate to the Dodgers (who they still play six times) for pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and pitching prospect Scott McGough, to "change the culture.'

It seems as though the Marlins may not be done, either. Their chances of making the playoffs decrease by the day, and teams still in contention have their eye on players such as Josh Johnson, Carlos Lee, and maybe even a Ricky Nolasco.

While many are calling it a "fire sale", it might be too early to tell. It may only be a fire sale if next year's opening day payroll decreases significantly after this season's franchise-high payroll mark.

-Although the Marlins have made several trades in the past couple of days, it will be interesting to see what the team does during the upcoming offseason. Even though the purpose was not to decrease the payroll, the Marlins saved a decent amount of money in trading Hanley Ramirez and not having to pay any part of his remaining salary currently or in the future.

-With Hanley Ramirez, once thought to be a leader in the clubhouse, gone, it goes without saying that several players need to step up. Manager Ozzie Guillen has said that he feels guys such as Jose Reyes, Giancarlo Stanton, and Logan Morrison have the potential to be leaders. "This is Jeffery Loria's team," said manager Ozzie Guillien, in advance of this weekend's three-game set against the Padres. "I think it has an opportunity to be a couple guys' team."

-Both of the Marlins who were traded to the Dodgers performed well in their Dodgers debut. Ramirez collected a couple of hits, and Randy Choate pitched a scoreless inning in relief in the Cardinals' 3-2 victory of L.A.

-Several teams have interest in Josh Johnson, however the Marlins have said that they are seeking a Mark Texieria-like deal and would want several prospects with one or two major league ready players in return. Miami has also added that to trade Johnson, they would have to be "overwhelmed" by a team's offer. "I think [fans] should be wondering. I think they should be disappointed in the way we've played, where we are in the standings. We're not going to do something just to do something. These things came together relatively quickly," President Of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest said.

-Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla, who rejected the Marlins' offer to him and accepted the one the Braves presented him with because of an included fifth year, was surprised that the Marlins dealt Ramirez."I'm still kind of shocked by it," Uggla said after the Braves' 7-1 win at Marlins Park. "Not seeing Hanley in that Marlins uniform, it's crazy. It could be a good thing for both of them, though. I know Hanley hasn't had the years he wanted to have the last couple, and maybe a little change of scenery will be a good thing for him."

-Manager Ozzie Guillen has recently said that the fans should not blame the front office for the team's lack of success, but rather himself and the players. "Don't blame the front office," Guillen said. "I take the blame. The players, they take the blame. I blame myself, first one for making the front office make the move they don't want to make. That's for sure. We've been talking about this for the last three weeks. The front office was very optimistic, very optimistic about this ballclub, and we don't show them any sign to be more optimistic.

-Carlos Zambrano and the Marlins will look to get back on the winning side of things as they take on the San Diego Padres in the first game of a three game series at Marlins Park that begins on Friday night.

-As previously noted, Marlins Park will host the second round of the World Baseball Classic. First round games will be held at Chase Field in Arizona, and the semi-finals will be held at AT&T Park.

-With Hanley Ramirez gone, Donovan Solano and Donnie Murphy, who was recently called up from New Orleans, will platoon at third base. Greg Dobbs can also start at the hot corner, but Guillen prefers to have Dobbs available to pinch hit in the later innings of games.

-The Marlins may not be done making moves, as the July 31 deadline is still days away. "We have to do our job. If it means there are going to be additional moves, there will be additional moves," Beinfest said.

-Former Marlins reliever Randy Choate has said that it is unfair to blame the Marlins' lack of success on Ramirez. "I think it's unfair to put it on one guy when it's basically the team as a whole because we didn't win," Choate said. "One guy can't carry the whole team all the time. To say it was all Hanley I don't think is a fair statement but maybe that's why they made a change - that it's good to get him out of that clubhouse and get a fresh start in a new clubhouse."

-According to multiple reports, while the Marlins have made their entire roster available, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, and Giancarlo Stanton are all players the Marlins are not willing to move.

Around The League

-Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin has openly said that "trading starter Zach Greinke is a possibility". Several teams still in contention are seeking top of the line starting pitchers.

-After successfully extending the contract of Cole Hamels, the Phillies have placed Placido Polanco on the disabled list.

-Multiple general managers have said that the Phillies are not in a position to trade Cliff Lee. Lee is reportedly not yet "formally available."

-It seems as if Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster wants to pitch for the Dodgers, but Chicago has received a better offer from Atlanta. The Cubs are running out of desirable choices in an attempt to trade the right-handed veteran.

At Fish Stripes

-Here is a look at how prospects Charlie Lowell, Drew Steckenrider, and Bryan Berglund are doing in the minor leagues.

-The Marlins are definitely not buyers, but could you call them sellers? Is it severe enough to be called a "fire sale"?

-Should the Marlins trade Josh Johnson? He has shown that he can be one of baseball's top pitchers.