After 15 years it’s finally over. Jeffrey Loria has agreed to sell the Marlins to the Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman-led group for $1.2 billion.
Loria bought the Marlins in 2002 from then-owner John Henry for $158 million. Loria would have made over 650 percent profits on a team he never invested in.
Loria’s time as the owner was a roller coaster ride for South Florida and Major League Baseball alike. Marlins fan grew to dislike him and his penny-pinching ways, and the league and the MLB Players Association even came to an agreement forcing Loria to increase the Marlins payroll in 2010. While there more many more low points than high points, we must mention the high points as well.
In year two of the Loria regime the Marlins captured their second World Series title, beating the heavily-favored Yankees in six games. A title run that was spear-headed by the likes of Rookie of the Year Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Cabrera, Ivan Rodriguez, and Josh Beckett. Their postseason run was magical, from Jeff Conine’s game-ending outfield assist to Steve Bartman’s attempt at catching what would’ve been an out in Chicago (Thanks Steve! You’re always welcomed in Miami). Everything fell in place for a 21-year-old Beckett to shutout the Bronx Bombers at home.
As far as the rest of the highs under Jeffrey Loria go, there aren’t many besides drafting Cabrera, Willis, Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Jose Fernandez. Willis won 22 games in 2005. Cabrera won the first Triple Crown since 1967. Stanton is the best power hitter in the game. Yelich has been able to fly under the radar since 2013. Before his death Fernandez was on a path to Cooperstown, winning Rookie of the Year in 2013 while placing third in Cy Young voting.
The construction of Marlins Park is the final high point under Loria. Although Miami Dade County may regret using taxpayer money to build the stadium, it has brought baseball fans two World Baseball Classics and just recently the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game. With the help of these once in a lifetime events, Miami has displayed that fans will flood the stadium and root for the hometown team if a premium product is placed on the field.
Marlins fans have grown accustomed to fire sales. Many fans don’t get attached to one player or even the team for that matter because Loria and his front office have constantly traded away great players or budding big leaguers for below market value. It’s hard to root for a team that’s made up of different players almost every year.
It began in 2005, when the Fish traded away Beckett and Mike Lowell to cut cost. Then it happened again in 2007, trading away Willis and Cabrera, and then again in 2012, beginning with Hanley Ramirez, followed by Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson. The trades in 2012 angered Giancarlo Stanton so much that he made frustrations known in an infamous tweet.
Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain & Simple— Giancarlo Stanton (@Giancarlo818) November 13, 2012
Most of these trades happened as a way to save money and the Marlins again took back less talent than what they were trading away. However, the Loria pains involve much more than just a few bad trades.
In 2006 the then Florida Marlins went on an improbable run. After sitting 30 games under .500, they found themselves in contention for the Wild Card by the end of the season. Manager Joe Girardi went on to win Manager of the Year but was without a job after Loria fired him.
The firing of Girardi began a rotation of Marlins managers. Fredi Gonzalez, who lasted the longest (2007-2010), Edwin Rodriguez (2010-2011), Jack McKeon (2011), Ozzie Guillen (2012), Mike Redmond (2013-2015), Dan Jennings (2015), and current manager Don Mattingly have all been at the helm.
Naming Dan Jennings the manager was perhaps the worst decision of them all. It left many fans around baseball confused and questioning the decision due to his role as general manager. At the end of the 2015 season, Jennings was relieved from both his duties.
It appears as if Miami’s front office has lost the players’ trust, which has resulted in overpaying for free agents. Miami even outbid the Dodgers and Yankees for star closers Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, who both chose to take less money and sign with their respective clubs.
During his time as owner, the Marlins have a .481 winning percentage. Loria is consistently listed as one of the worst owners in professional sports. He hasn’t done right by the fans, the county that built his stadium, or the players. South Florida baseball has suffered under his time as owner.
Many fans feel cheated by Loria and perhaps even find it unfair that he’s going to make so much money on the sale while never having invested in the team.
For the few good things Loria has done, he’s done too many bad. Marlins fans everywhere rejoiced when the news broke that Loria had agreed to sell the team to Derek Jeter, who’s always associated with winning, having won five World Series titles with the Yankees. The bar has been set so low that there’s nowhere to go but up. Jeter and Sherman can’t be any worse than Loria.
After officially buying the team, Jeter and Sherman must get rid of the entire front office. Keeping anyone from the previous ownership group sends the wrong message. The league anxiously awaits the departure of Loria and Marlins fans everywhere are waiting for their new owner. We’re counting on you, Captain.