Over the weekend, owner Jeffrey Loria spoke with the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson about the state of the Miami Marlins and his opinions on the 2015 squad. Needless to say, he was very excited about the Fish coming into the season.
"They are going to be beyond interesting," Loria said of a team that now fields starters who have had big-league success at every position. "We’ve put together an incredible combination of players. We believe we have probably the best outfield in baseball."
This should come as no surprise. The Marlins accomplished a decent amount this offseason, earning an acceptable grade and signing their best player and star to a palatable long-term contract. Miami should be confident in their odds going into the season, as the team has improved and projects to be a league average squad next year. So Loria is overly optimistic about the team. So what? Before Spring Training, anything is possible, and you would expect nothing less from the Marlins' brass but positive words about the group they assembled for the upcoming year.
Loria goes on to claim that much of the team's revamped infield is second to none and that the roster from top to bottom is talented, and some of that cannot be disputed. The infield is better, the Marlins are a team without a significant (at least to them) weak spot on the roster, and the team improved with the moves they made. However, one quote stuck out to me here that should be especially noted from Loria.
He said he’s more optimistic about this team than the high-priced roster the Marlins assembled in 2012, their first year at Marlins Park. Why?
"Because I can see the experience and energy of these guys," he said. "We didn’t have this outfield then. Giancarlo is one of the best players in baseball, gets better every year. It’s nice to have this core of young players. [And] we have the best chemistry we’ve ever had. What you see now is the continuity, stability and cohesiveness that I have dreamed about. It’s felt from upstairs to the clubhouse. It’s a feeling that we can do anything."
Loria believes that this team is destined to do better than that 2012 squad for reasons including clubhouse chemistry and continuity. That's all well and good, and those things do contribute to a winning ballclub to a degree. But as previously mentioned, the Marlins just revamped a large portion of their roster, with new starters at first base, second base, third base, and in two rotation spots. The Fish boast continuity in very few locations, particularly in the outfield, and even that includes a new fourth outfielder as well.
As for clubhouse chemistry and the general vibe, that could also be true. But Loria has switched opinions on his franchise in a matter of seconds, or at the very least changed from optimism to extreme pessimism within weeks. Note these quotes from articles like this and this, taken as late as June of 2012. You might recall that the Fish were mired in the worst month of their existence that year.
"School is now out, the [Heat’s] championship is accomplished, and we have a spectacular team — I still believe that, and I love our chances," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told us Thursday. "The Dolphins don’t play significant games until the fall. We’re going to play our significant games in August and September, and by that time people will be so in love with us they won’t want to go anywhere else!"
"It’s a playoff-caliber team, absolutely," the owner said. "We’re going to have our run.
Flash forward to two years later, and he had this to say about that same roster (bolded emphasis mine).
"There was such consternation, I dont think many people understood what we were doing two years ago,'' Loria says. "Everyone said, "Here they go again, another fire sale.' But what we did didn't work. And it wasn't going to work.
"I mean, two weeks into the season I knew it wasn't going to work.
Three months into the season, he was saying that this was the best team he had ever worked with. Two weeks into that same year, he was saying that he knew this experiment wasn't going to work. So either Loria has switched opinions rapidly about his teams and made rash decisions as a result or he's awfully inconsistent with his memory of his comments.
Either way, the point is that Loria's moods and opinions on the Marlins vacillate a lot, and since his hand is dipped deep into the player personnel management role, you know that he will have a large say in the moves the team makes within the year. The Marlins could suffer a mediocre or bad April like they did in 2012, and all of that bravado about how this team's chemistry makes it better than the 2012 squad can dissipate in a hurry. Loria will surely know that this team too is going nowhere, and who knows what he will choose to do if he makes that determination. Loria's judgments on how the Marlins are performing and how they will play in the future cannot be trusted to remain consistent.
So yes, Loria is right to be excited about the 2015 season. I am too! But the differences between now and 2012 are drastic for reasons other than the ones Loria listed. It is a sure-fire guarantee that he will not be talking about the great clubhouse atmosphere by midseason if the Marlins are 35-46 at the halfway mark. Marlins fans should take note.