Don’t Crucify the Marlins for Making Smart Moves

On Monday, the Marlins traded Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers for highly thought of pitching prospect Jacob Turner and a couple of other prospects, admitting that their grand experiment hadn’t produced a contender in 2012 as they had hoped. That deal didn’t generate much controversy, as Sanchez is a free agent at the end of the year and Infante is a role player without much name value.

Late last night, however, they agreed to ship Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Nathan Eovaldi, and the internet exploded.

Sports Illustrated:

For all of their rebranding and relocating, the Miami Marlins have done the one thing their fan base is least likely to tolerate, which is to bring back memories of the fire sales that followed their World Series wins in 1997 and 2003. The Sanchez/Infante trade could have been seen as part of a short-term regrouping on Tuesday. On Wednesday, in light of the Ramirez trade, that is no longer possible.

The Sporting News:

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria got his sweetheart ballpark deal and asked fans to fill it; in a span of about 36 hours, he disrespectfully chased them away because he didn’t get immediate satisfaction on the field. And according to at least two sources, other teams’ front offices are looking down on this latest Marlins fire sale.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The ever-fraudulent Florida Marlins are holding another fire sale. Their bold quest for another World Series championship barely made it past the All-Star Game.

Fraudulent. Disrespectful. Not possible that this is a baseball decision. It’s fire sale pandemonium, and the outrage meter is turned up extra high. And yet, it may all be completely wrong.

What the Marlins have done in the past three days is trade two months of a pitcher they probably weren’t going to re-sign, a year and a half of an average second baseman, and an overpaid underachiever who most teams wouldn’t have even claimed on waivers. As Knobler notes, the Marlins were willing to pick up half of Ramirez’s salary to trade him to Oakland, and Billy Beane was hesitant to even pull the trigger at that price. This wasn’t so much a fire sale as it was an inventory closeout of unwanted goods.

Yes, the Marlins have a bad history of tearing down their rosters. After they won the World Series in 1997, they traded away Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Robb Nen, Moises Alou, Devon White, and Jeff Conine before the season began, and then shipped off Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, and Bobby Bonilla six weeks into the season. That was a fire sale that turned a team that went 92-70 into a team that went 54-108. The team traded away nine of their highest profile players and slashed their payroll down from $50 million down to $15 million, coming in ahead of only the Pirates and Expos in total spending that year.

Over the next five years, the Marlins would build back up their farm system and, in 2003, found themselves as something of a surprise contender. On the backs of 21-year-old Dontrelle Willis, 23-year-old Josh Beckett, and 20-year-old Miguel Cabrera, an extremely young team snagged the wild card and ended up winning the World Series. Once again, the Marlins celebrated their championship by going cheap, though didn’t do anything near as extreme as the 1997 offseason. Ivan Rodriguez left as a free agent, Derrek Lee was traded to the Cubs, Juan Encarnacion was traded to the Dodgers, and Mark Redman was traded to the A’s.

But, those weren’t catastrophic moves that doomed the franchise. Redman was replaced by a returning A.J. Burnett, who actually upgraded the rotation. Choi actually posted an .882 OPS in 2004, essentially matching the .888 OPS that Lee put up the year before. Encarnacion’s job was given to Cabrera, which was an obvious improvement. They couldn’t replace Pudge behind the plate, but he got a 4 year, $40 million deal from the Tigers to cover his age 32-35 season and then took a huge step back offensively after the first year of the deal. Not signing a catcher headed into his decline phase certainly isn’t the same thing as a fire sale.

The 2004 Marlins didn’t get torn apart, nor did they collapse into the worst team in baseball. Their opening day payroll shrunk from $49 million to $42 million and they went from 91 wins to 83 wins. Despite what you may read this morning, the Marlins don’t have a history of selling off all their good players as soon as they get what they want. They did that once — 15 years ago — and that was under previous owner Wayne Huizenga.

I get that Jeffrey Loria is easy to hate. How he handled the Expos was awful, he’s done a lot of slimey things as the owner of the Marlins, and yes, he just spent a long time convincing the city of Miami to build him a publicly financed stadium that has greatly increased attendance, and in turn, his revenues. I have no interest in defending Jeffrey Loria from any of the valid criticisms that are leveled at him. However, the reality is that he wasn’t in charge of the team in 1997, and the off-season of 2003-2004 wasn’t a “fire sale”.

And neither is what they’re doing now. Hanley Ramirez hasn’t hit in two years, his transition to third base hasn’t gone very well, and he’s due $31.5 million over the next two seasons. Trading him now is no different than what the Arizona Diamondbacks did by making Justin Upton available in trade, and no one was calling that a fire sale just three months into the defense of their 2011 NL West title. In reality, underperforming teams that aren’t in the playoff race trade expensive underachievers and pending free agents every year. It’s not fraud, it’s baseball.

If the team trades Josh Johnson in the next week, I’m sure that will just be seen as more evidence that the Marlins are up to their old tricks. But, with Cole Hamels off the market, there’s a strong demand for premium pitching, and the Marlins will likely get a very strong return for the last year and a half of team control they have over Johnson. And, given Johnson’s history of health problems, his declining velocity and strikeout rates, and the team’s recent acquisitions of two good young starting pitching prospects, now is probably the perfect time to move Johnson for value.

Whether it can be interpreted other ways or not, these trades make baseball sense. You can view them through the lens of “Evil Jeffrey Loria Screwing Over His Fans Again” if you want, but I don’t think the facts really support that kind of conclusion.

If the Marlins don’t spend any of the money they just saved by getting rid of Hanley Ramirez, if they don’t extend Giancarlo Stanton, and they turn back into a low-payroll team that lives off revenue sharing, they should absolutely be crucified for that. But they haven’t done that yet, and it’s not fair to assume that is the plan simply because that was Huizenga’s plan 15 years ago.

If the Marlins do reinvest Hanley’s money into upgrading other parts of the roster, and they do get a good return for Josh Johnson before he breaks down again, there’s a pretty good chance that the 2013 Marlins will be better than the 2012 version. I understand why you might not think Loria deserves the benefit of the doubt, but a rush to judgement isn’t any better.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


140 Responses to “Don’t Crucify the Marlins for Making Smart Moves”

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  1. Ben says:

    I think what most people are beefing with isn’t the idea of trading Hanley, but instead the return. While Hanley hasn’t hit since 2010, he is still just 28 and his prodigous talent is still there. If he approaches his former self, his contract is not an overpay at all. And getting just Eovaldi is an underwhelming return, when Anibal and Infante brought back Jacob Turner and Dempster was going to bring back Delgado.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      You think the Marlins intentionally took less than what other teams were offering? Every report out there contradicts that. Until last night, the assumption was that the Marlins were going to have eat a large part of his contract just to get rid of him. If anything, the Dodgers probably overpaid.

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      • Dunston says:

        I think you’re jumping to conclusions, Dave, about Ben’s point. I took it as why trade Hanley right now when his value is at his absolute lowest that it’s ever been. Hanley’s on the right side of 30, and is only two years away from a perennial MVP candidate. Could the Marlins have gotten more for him right now? No. Did the Marlins need to trade him this year, especially with the influx of money from the new stadium?

        I’d also point out that there’s a huge difference between trading Hanley Ramirez and talking about trading Justin Upton. Teams will leak rumors to the press to try to motivate players, or to test the market to see what’s out there.

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      • everdiso says:

        Agreed with Dave.

        All the defensive metrics seem to agree that Hanley is a 1B/DH or maybe a corner OF at this point. And his .732ops the last 2yrs or even his .786ops over the last 3 makes him mediocre at best in those slots.

        Heck, Eovaldi’s war rate (0.7/91ip) the past 2 yrs isn’t far off Hanley’s (2.7/780pa) already.

        It’s a $35m gamble that Hanley can be closer to the player he was 4+ seasons ago….and that’s a big risk iMO.

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      • John says:

        I think you’re way off, Dave.

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      • everdiso says:

        Gotta think that you can buy a much less risky player than Hanley for $15m per year.

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      • 39Bailey says:

        Well said. If Billy Beane had just traded his bloated, overpaid, underachieving clubhouse cancer and received a 22-year-old pitcher with Eovaldi’s stuff, the same media hacks would be gushing over Beane’s latest fleecing.

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      • JimNYC says:

        It’s an issue of perception. Two years ago, everybody expected this kid to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. It’s hard to change people’s minds that quickly on a player of that caliber at his age. As a Yankee fan, if Robbie Cano has two bad seasons, I’d have a hard time thinking of him as “Cano, the washed up role player” rather than “Cano, the perennial MVP candidate who’s going to get back on track any day now.”

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      • Matt NW says:

        Who wants to blame the shoulder? I do, at least sorta.

        As a sufferer of a shoulder injury, I say: they’re devastating. And the margin between “strong enough to get by” and being a big league power hitter is a big margin.

        He stinks now. Seemingly isn’t an enjoyable human being (of course this matters). Good trade.

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    • Steve says:

      Sooo….IF he returns to his former self, the Dodgers got a steal.

      And if he doesn’t? They overpaid.

      What is the probability of this “IF”?

      Is it 50-50? If so, the return should be somewhere between “good Hanley return” and “not good Hanley return”.

      Isn’t that what they got?

      Seems like you are assuming the “IF” is going to happen.

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    • jordan s says:

      eovaldi is mildly underwhelming but aside from the fact that hanley has one of the worst reputations in baseball and has a rather large chunk of a contract left, the marlins are clearly targeting young pitchers that are close to major league-ready, which is why people expressing bewilderment over the marlins not getting zach lee or allen webster are kinda missing the point.

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  2. Padman Jones says:

    Would we be throwing around terms like fraudulent and disrespectful if they hadn’t finagled public financing for their brand new stadium? I agree with the article’s premise that these are smart baseball decisions, but I don’t feel that it addresses the root cause of (what I think is) the backlash.

    It’s not the Marlins’ fault that they moved into the new stadium at the same time as their high-priced acquisitions (and other pieces, to be fair) failed to perform to the levels that they/their fans would have hoped. But I feel like this discussion has to be couched in how the city of Miami essentially paid for a lemon in what was supposed to be (or at least could have been) a new era of Marlins baseball.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      The Marlins average attendance is up 11,000 fans per game from last year, the highest increase in baseball this season. If the park is a lemon that the citizens hate, they have an odd way of showing it.

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      • jordan s says:

        on the attendance tip, you can see the sort of thinly veiled vendetta that writers nationally have against the marlins as a franchise in this scott miller piece from last night http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/scott-miller/19652295/a-swing-and-miss-and-its-another-marlins-black-eye

        his premise is that loria gambled on a major increase in fan attendance but that hasn’t happened because the marlins are 14th per game attendance in… the national league! which of course is a totally disingenuous and self-serving shaping of the facts because, as dave points out, the marlins have seen a huge increase in attendance from last season and generally speaking are middle of the road in all of baseball in attendance.

        why attendance should only be measured between teams in the same league is totally lost on me… unless of course you were trying to shape an argument not supported by facts.

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      • marechal says:

        Clearly the population of tax-paying individuals is composed exclusively of people that attend baseball games and could choose not to go if they thought that investment was misplaced.

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      • James says:

        Isn’t attendance merely a tacit endorsement of the MLB Instant Replay policy?

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      • bflaff says:

        Well, we all have a good idea where the revenues from those additional 11K tickets per game are going, don’t we? Not into team payroll, that’s for sure.

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      • Padman Jones says:

        They are an odd people.

        is my only defense. I did not check the numbers.

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      • Lanidrac says:

        However, does anyone really expect this attendance increase to last long-term? When most teams get a new stadium, they usually draw at least above the Major League median in the first year (which they can’t even manage in Miami), and then the figures drop much closer to their usual numbers in future years. I’ve said all along that a new stadium alone wasn’t going to revive a franchise that previously drew among the worst in baseball enough to support this kind of payroll.

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      • jcxy says:

        @DC

        where does that attendance increase rank among other teams that recently opened new stadiums?

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    • KRC says:

      I cannot understand why people still refer to this as the stadium as a burden on the common taxpayer.

      yes taxes are paying for it, but its done with TOURIST taxes on hotel rooms. NO FUNDING IS COMING FROM GENERAL TAX FUNDS……PERIOD. What is so hard to understand about this ?

      This was a smart move, and will allow for the Marlins to something more this off-season. If they don’t then Loria needs to go, and Selig will see that he is ruining baseball for good in South Fla. That is not what Selig wants. I think then Selig will quietly try to start the ball moving in getting Loria out, and another ownership group in here.

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      • Ernesto says:

        And with the industry in Miami being HEAVILY tourist dependent, you don’t see anything wrong in that KRC? Or that the owners have asked the Little Havana neighborhood to give up their front yards because they didn’t plan stadium parking properly? The baseball moves can be argued. The financial statements on the stadium cannot. The way they manipulated city commissioners to allow the stadium was fraudulent.

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      • A dollar doesn’t care how it was collected.

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      • Toffer Peak says:

        Are you suggesting that those tax dollars couldn’t have been used for something more productive to society such as schools, roads, police, etc? Even hotel taxes have limits (Miami is competing for tourist dollars with all other warm spots in the world) and every dollar they spend on a stadium is one less for actually productive uses.

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      • Itsfantastic says:

        Yes Toffer, that is exactly what it means. If you aren’t from Miami, then keep your mouth shut about our governance and if you are, become an informed resident instead of an idiot. As this pdf shows on page six, tourist tax money MUST go to facilities that generate tourism. A school, hospital, police station and roads do not generate tourism, while the stadium, convention center or performing arts center does.

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      • kampfer says:

        They could have used the money to improve aquariums. May have still been money better spent.

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      • ValueArb says:

        It’s a waste of tourist tax money as stadiums are economic black holes empty for most of the year, and staffed by minimum wage employees even when open.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        How much does the stadium and tens of thousands of people in an area generate revenue elsewhere though? Restaurants, bars, hotels, etc in the area.

        Then again, who’s to say the people going wouldn’t still otherwise be spending? Like, at a movie instead of a baseball game.

        The economic value isn’t straight forward at all.

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  3. JT says:

    Thank you very much for reminding your readers about Loria’s killing of the Montreal Expos. For that, he is a reprobate for ever and ever, amen.

    Has there been a good book written on how he salted that earth for his own selfish gain? Where’s Keri when we need him.

    At least the NBA could go back to Vancouver or Seattle, for instance. MLB won’t be returning to Montreal, and that’s not the market’s fault. That’s Loria.

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    • KRC says:

      So I never understand this…..if Loria is a bad guy, and didn’t support his team in So Fla, then why are they bad fans ? How else can they protest against Loria as owner, other than NOT BUYING TICKETS, which they did for years.

      I don’t get it….the South Fla baseball fans have been abused like no other, not even Cubs fans, in our 20 years of existence.

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      • Ernesto says:

        Marlins fans supported their team very well from its inception to after the 1997 WS. It hasn’t recovered since then. I totally agree with you on this false dual categorization of Marlins fans being absent/apathetic while also lambasting the owners for screwing the fans. Its silly to criticize the fans.

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      • JimNYC says:

        You go to the games because you’re a fan. If you don’t like the owner, you make sure that negative articles about him are on the front page of the paper 12 months a year. You organize thousand person demonstrations outside his house every night to keep him from sleeping. You hold up giant signs deriding him every time you have a nationally televised game. You make sure that his awfulness is all that’s spoken of on the local 24 hour sports talk radio stations. Sometimes that doesn’t work (see — James Dolan), but most of the time, if you make the guy’s life miserable — if you make sure he can’t go the grocery store or visit his inlaws without seeing a sign decrying his awfulness every hundred yards — he’ll find it’s just not worth it to hold on to ownership.

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    • Pie IX says:

      Jonah Keri IS writing a book about the Expos, I don’t know if Loria will be covered but I wouldn’t bet against it.

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  4. Great article!

    Totally agree that this is different. Just look at what they got for Hanley while also paying for a lot of salary, Eovaldi is nice but, as the post here on Fangraphs noted, IF things break right, he’s a nice middle rotation starter. IF. A couple of years ago, he should have netted at least Billingsley, if not demand for Kershaw in return. Today, a middle rotation guy IF things break right.

    Interesting that A’s turned down deal with so much cash thrown in , but perhaps Marlins were asking for more than an Eovaldi in return from them.

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  5. Colin says:

    I think people see the name Hanley Ramirez and forget/ignore his production over the last few seasons.

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    • John says:

      I think people forget it has only been 1 1/2 of struggle, not “few seasons”.

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      • John says:

        The full extent of Hanley’s struggle…

        ’11-’12

        691AB, 104 R, 169 H, 34 2b, 2 3b, 24 HR, 93 RBI, 34 SB, 14 CS, 81 BB, 138 SO, .245/.327/.404

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      • Colin says:

        Yes, that missing two months from making it two full seasons was really worth pointing out. Thank you for the contribution.

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  6. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    The thing that makes this so jarring to most people is that the Marlins are, deservedly and rightfully, going into a full rebuild and sopping up prospects – but they are doing so just months after splashing out for three high-dollar free agents. This represents a gear shift from “Win Now” to “Win in 3-4 Years.” And, to put it simply, if you’re going to pull a Jeff Luhnow and trade every aging and unhelpful piece off your team for rookies, minor leaguers, and other future assistance, it looks very foolish to have just signed Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes for $191,000,000.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      Turner and Eovaldi have both pitched in the Majors this year. They’re probably going to both be in the Marlins rotation next year.

      This isn’t what the Astros are doing either.

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      • Well-Beered Englishman says:

        New Astro Rudy Owens should join the rotation right away. True, the Astros and Marlins are rebuilding differently, but my point is that I see the Marlins scaling back from “all in WS or bust” to rebuilding mode.

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      • dkauffman says:

        There is a world of difference between Eovaldi and Turner as opposed to Rudy Owens even if all 3 are capable of joining in right away. Owens hardly makes the Astros trade equal to the Marlins in 2013 impact.

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  7. jordan s says:

    THANK YOU BASED GOD

    someone really needed to say — well — all of this.

    i think there’s an interesting juxtaposition between the phillies and the marlins that no one has really picked up on nationally, and it’s that you have two big payroll teams far out of playoff contention, but one is being bogged down by massive contracts given to players that probably didn’t warrant deals of that size (and in the case of ryan howard, it was done out of “loyalty” or some such nonsense) and the other is getting value for players it doesn’t want to and probably shouldn’t be interested in re-signing anyway.

    it’s not exactly the point, but i’d take the marlins’ strategy & future over that of the phillies, provided of course that loria and samson do re-invest in the team.

    the “fire sale” stuff is getting out of control.

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    • bflaff says:

      Phillies 2012 opening day payroll: $174 million
      Marlins 2012 opening day payroll: $118 million

      Phillies 2011 opening day payroll: $172 million
      Marlins 2011 opening day payroll: $56 million

      Calling them both ‘big payroll teams’ is a pretty big whiff. Only one of them is. As for fire sale stuff, you do have a team so cheap that the Commish got on them for maintaining a small payroll, and then the very year they shell out the big bucks, they start unloading contracts half a season later. Point being, they might be inviting this sort of treatment. But if they know what they’re doing, no harm, no foul.

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      • Overhed says:

        It’s not fair to call the Marlins a cheap team when they were merely tenants in their previous “stadium.” They didn’t get money from concessions, parking, and had to pay rent to the owner of the Dolphins. It’s tough to put up a a decent payroll when you’re already in a not huge baseball market, and you don’t have the same number of revenue streams that every other team has.

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  8. Marc says:

    “Trading him now is no different than what the Arizona Diamondbacks did by making Justin Upton available in trade”

    Yes it is? For one, the Marlins actually DID trade Hanley Ramirez. Two, how do we even know Kevin Towers actually wants to ship off Justin Upton? How do we know he isn’t just feeling out what the market is for him? Towers is a talker, and by nature, he’s going to say some things that’s going to be misinterpreted by people, and this could very well be one of those cases. 

    Ramirez was a salary dump, and that’s what the Marlins are being lambasted for, not for trading their former face of the franchise when they had aspirations of contending. Besides, even if Towers DID want to trade Upton, it’s because he thinks he can get more than what he’s actually worth, not because the team is cheap and wants to shed his salary. Upton is going to fetch a fair return for the player he is if he’s actually going to be traded, and no one ever questioned the moral ethics of someone who dealt a player he wasn’t overly bullish on. The Marlins traded Hanley because they want to dump his salary, while the DBacks are MAYBE going to trade Upton because they think the players they get in return will provide more value than Upton will. It’s not even a remotely comparable situation.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      I’d rather have six years of Nathan Eovaldi than the next two of Hanley Ramirez, and it’s not even close.

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      • phattonez says:

        A middle infielder who should have a wRC+ of 114 using xBABIP and ShH or a guy with a 4.61 SIERA and a 2.31 K/BB ratio in the minors and currently 1.7 in the majors. Eovaldi’s decent, but not much upside. Besides, if you’re the Dodgers with a plethora of pitching prospects and a serious deficiency of position players, don’t you make this move in a heartbeat?

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      • Bob says:

        phattonez

        you may have missed it, but Ramirez is not a middle infielder. He plays 3B.

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      • phattonez says:

        Bob, Ramirez will be filling in for Luis Cruz at SS for the Dodgers.

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      • jdbolick says:

        I’d rather have six years of Nathan Eovaldi than the next two of Hanley Ramirez, and it’s not even close.

        I’m sorry Dave, but that is definitely the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever seen anyone associated with Fangraphs post, and you’ve had some doozies before. Regardless of what you or some other person might think about Eovaldi’s fastball-slider combo, the reality is that it has not consistently missed bats in the minor leagues, much less the major leagues. This is a prospect who Baseball America said profiles better as a reliever than as a starter, and you’re saying you’d rather have that guy for six years than two of Hanley Ramirez?

        Hanley Ramirez is only 28 years old, and as far as we know, hasn’t suffered any sort of catastrophic, career-affecting injury. Obviously he’s not playing as well now as he did three or four years ago, but a guy still in his prime who has proven that he CAN produce at that level is tremendously valuable. There was no urgent need to move him right this moment, so if the Marlins had no better offers then they could have just waited. Eovaldi is an embarrassing return for a former MVP candidate who, once again, is only 28. Anyone not blasting the hell out of this trade is either a Dodgers fan or completely out of touch with reality.

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  9. Grand Admiral Braun says:

    “Cubs win World Series. Against Miami?”

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  10. Fred says:

    Turner and Eovaldi should Contribute next year. Eovaldi will probably even be slated for a spot in the Marlins opening day rotation if things stay the way they are. The major pieces aren’t low level prospects that need years to develop, it’s close to ML ready talent. Since the Marlins aren’t contending Eovaldi could even be sent down to work on his not-fastball or slider offerings. If the money saved from the Hanley deal is put towards responsible extensions even better.

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  11. nolan says:

    The Marlins will be better off.

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  12. Jabronies says:

    If anyone knew for sure that Loria wont do this again in 2 or 3 years with Reyes, Stanton, etc, we wouldn’t be so upset. But the fact that he has a sordid history of fire sales just adds fuel to the fire.
    The Hanley return is pretty weak. Why didn’t they eat some of the salary and get a better deal? Well I think we all know the answer. At least us in Montreal know the answer.

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  13. Robbie G. says:

    While Mr. Cameron’s argument is perfectly rational and probably correct, the problem here for Mr. Loria is that he has a track record of not acting in good faith, which means that he is not and should not get the benefit of the doubt from the fan base. Mr. Loria needs to be able to convince the fan base that he is acting in good faith, and is honest-to-god trying to put a winning product on the field, and that is a major challenge for Mr. Loria. And it’s his own fault.

    Why municipal governments continue to fund the building of ballparks/stadiums/arenas for private companies (such as the Miami Marlins) is beyond me, particularly in a recession (if not a depression!), and particularly in a state that has been hit as hard by the collapse of the real estate market as Florida. And that’s on the voters, who stupidly voted for it, not on Mr. Loria, although, again, the perception here is not going to jive with the reality, and, again, that is all ultimately because of Mr. Loria’s own poor track record.

    I still view the offseason spending spree by the Marlins as a completely transparent attempt to boost attendance, rather than to put a winning product on the field, and the fact that attendance has, in fact, spiked considerably upwards suggests that Mr. Loria’s attempt not only has worked out but that the fan base does not seem to mind. Which is all too bad, as I’d like to see fan bases of professional teams owned by misers such as Mr. Loria boycott the product until the miser is forced to sell, although I realize that this is incredibly naive on my part.

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    • KRC says:

      You also, don’t have your facts right. This stadium was not financed by the Miami-Dade taxpayers, was not voted on by the public. The sheer audacity of uninformed internet posters who think they know more than they do always amazes me.

      So your diatribe about the stadium & the taxpayers makes you look very biased, like you have a hidden agenda.

      As for Loria, yes he does have a record that he caused himself, but if he again does spend this off-season those people also owe him an apology.

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  14. Cidron says:

    well, Dodgers do get an upgrade at SS from Dee Gordon, or at 3b over Uribe/Hairston

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  15. Calvin says:

    They aren’t just shedding salary for the sake of shedding salary. They spent heavily to try to win this year, and it just didn’t work. So they’re getting rid of assets that only help them now (when it doesn’t matter) for pieces that will help them for years. Eovaldi, with even a little of the expected age-related improvement, will be a legit starter under team control for years. Turner’s more prospect-y, but a year of league-average-ish Omar Infante and a meaningless rest of Anibal’s season vs. the potential of having another legit starter under control for years seems like a fine gamble to me.

    Assuming they spend the saved money, they’re in *way* better shape, say, 2 and 3 years from now and it’s far from clear that they aren’t better off next year too, especially if Hanley keeps (not) performing like he is now. Even if only one of Eovaldi and Turner pan out, as long as Hanley doesn’t go nuts, this looks like a solid win for the fish.

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    • Pie IX says:

      I mostly agree with Cameron’s points, but it’s not true that Hanley would “only help them now”. He could easily have been a contributor next year and the year after.

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  16. John C says:

    I’m going to try to make the Hanley Ramirez is still pretty good case. He had a babip of .275 last year and .271 this year despite a career .333 (including those two poor years). He also has his LD% above his career mark this year. Despite that, he still has a wRC+ of 104. If his babip moves toward his career norm, which it seems it should, couldn’t he be an all-star again for $16ish million per season without a long term commitment?

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    • KRC says:

      What about his numbers with RISP ? Check that stat out and then get back to us. Trust me, they are UGLY.

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    • LTG says:

      Reasons to think his BABIP won’t improve in the future:
      1. His power is declining and he is hitting more fly balls
      2. He’s making more contact on pitches out of the zone
      3. He’s swinging at more pitches out of the zone

      These are in no way determining factors. But they are indicative that the season+ of .275 BABIP is skill-related not luck-related or whatever that dichotomy is supposed to be.

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      • Will says:

        That’s not really true. In his decline years (2011-2012), Ramirez is actually hitting fewer fly balls than through his career. And his O-Contact and O-Swing are only 2.5-3% higher than career averages. Despite these minor fluctuations his BABiP over these two seasons is .060 below his career average. A couple percentage points in either direction doesn’t explain that. In fact, there’s little evidence to suggest Ramirez’s approach has changed over this prolonged “slump”, except that balls he’s hitting just aren’t falling for hits.

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      • LTG says:

        Small percentage points in discipline rates can have large effects on quality of balls in play.

        Also, hitter BABIP is not like pitcher BABIP. His reduced severely reduced BABIP over more than a season’s worth of PAs suggests skill erosion. The change in discipline rates might be an adjustment he’s made in light of that skill erosion that is leading to weaker contact.

        And he only hit more FBs in two years of his career, both when he had more power (not only turning FBs into HRs but also into 2Bs). Otherwise, he’s hitting a high rate of FBs for him.

        Again, none of this is certain. But it complicates the straightforward BABIP analysis.

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  17. AL Eastbound says:

    Maybe they can trade that hideous stadium for a ballpark to be named later?

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Dave, you’re fighting quite the uphill battle, asking Americans under 40 on the Internet not to rush to judgment nor to resort to hyperbole. Good luck with that.

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Ed says:

    He’s been benched for not running out grounders, which may have something to do with his low BAPIP. Not taking his meds and getting this hand infection was the last straw.

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  20. schlomsd says:

    I wonder if the Marlins have questions about his listed age? If he’s really 30-31 instead of 28 that would make the chances of a rebound less. The fact that he peaked so young and is Dominican unfortunately raises the age question, at least for me.

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    • John says:

      He looks young enough to be A. Pujols’ son. Just sayin.

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      • LTG says:

        I know you are saying something because you told me you were saying something but I can’t tell what it is. Is it that the way someone looks from pictures and fleeting glimpses on TV or at the ballpark is a reliable indicator of their age?

        Or by ‘just’ did you mean you were practicing saying things so that when the times was right you could really say something?

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      • KDL says:

        Granted John’s evidence is looking at a picture of the guy and guessing his age…but at least it’s something tangible/empirical.
        You’ve given us a conspiracy theory based on , and then scoff at another commenter.
        Viva la Internet!

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      • Lanidrac says:

        Well, it may be a conspiracy theory, but he is basing on it on the evidence of his recent production (or lack thereof) combined with his nationality where this has been known to happen on several occasions.

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      • LTG says:

        He also asked a question. Last time I checked questions were not theories.

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      • octelium says:

        OMG Pujols is 48!!!!!

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  21. Ian says:

    Has anyone here watched Eovaldi pitch? As a Dodgers fan, I’m ecstatic about this trade. The analyzation of dollars/WAR is great in the abstract, but in the real world circumstances of this trade, the upgrade from Gordon/Uribe/Kennedy/Hairston to Ramirez is massive. Eovaldi is a nice pitcher. He throws hard. But he has no consistent breaking pitch. I’ve watched most of his major league starts, he can’t throw a breaking ball for strikes. That’s going to kill him as a starter, which is why many of the Laws and Goldsteins of the world have been saying he could easily wind up a dominant reliever. Which is great and all, but not worth a whole lot in WAR. My point with $/WAR is that the Dodgers have tons of “those guys”, solid-average pitching prospects who could be middle of the rotation starters or great relievers. Webster, Gould, Reed, etc.

    How often do even mildly good infielders become available these days?

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  22. John says:

    “we’re still talking about just 553 balls in play over the past two seasons”

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  23. Jones says:

    Once again Dave Cameron completely misleads. How can you say the Marlins only had 1 firesale and then say they didn’t firesale after 2003. Sure they didn’t, but you completely forgot what they did after 2005. They went from a 60 million payroll to 15 million in 2006. Having a 15 million payroll is criminal. They went up to 30 Million in 2007 then went down to a ridiculous 21 million in 2008 which was 2x less than the 2nd lowest payroll in the league. That’s enough of a track record to crucify the team.

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  24. ODawg says:

    You ever get tired of being an Econ in a World (baseball) dominated by Humans?

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  25. Tom says:

    If folks think the Marlins are being crucified now, wait until Josh Johnson is dealt.

    Mark Buerhle and Heath Bell also have pretty back loaded contracts so I would not be surprised to see one of those moved in the offseason.

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    • chuckb says:

      Bell should never have been signed in the first place, at least not to that deal, so trading him is also probably in the long term interest of the team.

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      • Tom says:

        Shouldn’t have been, but he was.

        I’m not commenting on the baseball sense of the moves, but when you trade Ramirez, Sanchez and Infante for two pitching prospects (one very good, one pretty good) and have Josh Johnson on the block it looks a lot like a sell off and rebuild mode when they were advertising to fans we are in win now mode.

        Who knows maybe they will maintain the salary level and reinvest all the money they dumped and make a bunch of signings in the offseason, but given the history I don’t think it is absurd for folks to question the motives (as the author and some of the folks here seem to make it sound)

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  26. jpg says:

    I’m no pro scout or anything but my observation is that his swing looks long, like he’s going for the downs on every swing. He used to have a really sweet and smooth stroke. Every swing looks max effort to me. Guys with good change ups have destroyed him as have guys with big fastballs. Maybe the whole “Petco East” thing got in his head? I’m curious if Miami fans who watch him more see the same.

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    • Mcneildon says:

      This is a complete tangent and I am not at all disagreeing with what you’re saying because I honestly can’t even visualize his swing in my mind. But, I’ve always been curious about the concept of a hitter’s swing “getting long.” Technically speaking, how does that manifest itself? I’ve always wondered if that’s a really legitimate thing, or if people just notice a “long swing” when certain players who have pronounced follow-throughs happen to be in a slump accompanied by many swings and misses. I’m thinking of a swing like Jayson Werth’s or Pat Burrell’s. Again, I’m not saying a swing “getting long” isn’t real, I’m just looking for specifics about what happens.

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      • jdbolick says:

        A “long swing” generally refers to the time and distance between the trigger of the swing and when it reaches the point of contact. A swing can get long when a hitter gets fly-ball or power conscious and rolls the top hand back, dropping the bat head and causing it to loop around instead of proceeding directly to the hit zone.

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      • KDL says:

        This is a nice explanation, but I think it misses some of the point. I read the comment more along the lines of…is this a real thing that happens (swings get longer), or is confirmation bias at work?
        For example, has the swing changed? or always been long? I think there’s a chance we don’t critique things as closely when things are running well…but when the wheel starts squeaking we look for where to apply the grease. In these instances it can be easy to see for the the first time a ‘long swing’ that has, in fact, always been there.

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      • jdbolick says:

        I can’t speak to Hanley Ramirez’s swing specifically, but a swing becoming “long” has been documented empirically millions of times over all levels. It’s a pretty common thing to occur.

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      • Mcneildon says:

        jkbolick,
        I always considered your explanation to be valid and it is what I would say when people would ask me, but does this really happen? For instance, do scouts or hitting coaches measure with a stopwatch the time from swing inception to swing completion? Or do they just say, “yeah, his swing has gotten long” when in fact nothing has really changed but that particular hitter has a long swing that just draws more attention when things aren’t going well. I think KDL pretty well summed up what I was getting at in terms of confirmation bias.

        I’m not trying to be a jerk, but “has been documented empirically millions of times” is not enough to convince me without seeing some of that proof. I mean, it was “common knowledge” for many years that playing small ball and frequently giving up outs was the right way to play the game. A quick and lazy google search came up with plenty of documentation for describing a long swing, but I didn’t see anything (admittedly, I only looked for a few minutes) that gave any evidence of empirically demonstrating that a hitter’s swing has gotten longer than usual.

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      • jdbolick says:

        @Mcneildon –
        You can document a swing getting “long” either through timing the bat from the trigger to the zone (also can show up in bat speed recording), but mostly it comes from video review. Most teams from pro down to college and even high school will use video to document and review swings. It’s not difficult to compare swing paths and note differences, so yes, it is a documented occurrence and not just a saying.

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    • jordan s says:

      yeah, this is mostly otm. his swing is long and loopy and he has taken way worse at-bats in the last 1.5 seasons than he did prior to that. swinging at a lot of first pitch breaking balls… things of that nature. aside from the fact that he’s hitting more flyballs, i think one of the main reasons his BABIP is down significantly is because he’s getting himself behind in counts and generally chasing more pitches.

      he isn’t the same hitter.

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  27. Shaun Catron says:

    Dave Cameron is a big Marlins apologist.

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  28. chuckb says:

    The biggest mistake that Dave makes in this article is the inference that the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon is a legitimate journalist. He can, generously, be referred to as a hack who knows little about baseball. It’s a shame that he’s given an audience and the ability to influence others with his half-witted notions.

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  29. Chris from Detroit says:

    It’s hard to say anything nice about an organization that traded a hall of fame player for Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller. Cabrera is among the best pure hitters of this generation…He would hit 50 homeruns every year, if he had that short proch in Right at Yankee stadium, his power the opposite field is ridiculous. He has won a batting title, and RBI title,and even won a Home Run Crown, while playing at Yellowstone park, known as Comerica. The guy is ridiculous…if he played in Boston or NY, he would have won a few MVP’s already. Although, not a great fielder, he has played many different positions and has a cannon for an arm.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. vivalajeter says:

    Here’s what I don’t understand: Why trade him now, when he has the least trade value of his career, unless you’re trying to save a few bucks? If they kept him for the rest of the year and he started to hit better, they’d get a better return for him. If they kept him for the rest of the year and he kept hitting like he’s hitting now, they wouldn’t have gotten any less in a trade. So why trade him now, unless it’s to save a few million dollars that he’s owed this year? And after all the BS that the ownership went through to get the stadium, they should not be making a trade simply to lower payroll for this year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Simon says:

      Because they don’t think he’s going to improve, and may deteriorate further?

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    • jdm says:

      IMO half the reason is the Dodgers willingness to take on a majority of his salary cap. I don’t think hoping Hanley picks things up at the plate would really benefit the Marlins all that much because that would imply trading him after this year, which means they only have one pricey season left of him to deal, and no teams are competing for a wildcard in January so the Marlins won’t be able to oversell him to the highest bidder as they would in the time leading up to the trade deadline. Additionally, if they waited till next years trade deadline one would have to assume that they would count on Hanley remaining hot (or regaining his form of old) but additionally a team being desperate for a 2 month rental player for whom they would not receive compensation picks in the following years draft if he signed elsewhere, diminishing his trade value. Also at that point the Marlins would have to eat even more of his salary which could possibly (a big “if” Loria runs the Marlins with the intent of winning) be used to allocate to FAs and/or signing of draft picks. There is a chance that Hanley improves, but I think it is a small chance that his trade value improves all that much.

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  31. Pie IX says:

    If those 3 articles are crucifixions, what do you call Jeff Passan’s hit job?

    (http://sports.yahoo.com/news/marlins-jeffrey-loria-david-samson-fire-sale-trade-hanley-ramirez-new-stadium-.html)

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  32. TKDC says:

    So the Marlins signed Ramirez to a long, back ended deal and after he became too mediocre for his cancerous ass to be worth keeping around, they were able to find a team willing to bail them out of said back end and give them prospects. And this was a bad move? The tail is wagging the dog here.

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  33. jdbolick says:

    Trading Hanley is defensible, but only if the Marlins receive talent in return that actually helps them. Eovaldi has given no one any reason to believe he’s anything more than a replacement level pitcher.

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  34. MLB Rainmaker says:

    Wow. I had no idea there was so much fire around this deal.

    Dave, I’m on board. I think moving Hanley was a solid baseball move.

    First, you have to take into acccount that the Marlins are in the same division as a very young and very good Washington team, a monster payroll Philly team (with three of the best pitchers in the game locked up), and an Atlanta squad that is stacked with young pitching. If all those free agent dollars still couldn’t get it done in 2012, there wasn’t much of a chance that the same squad would have any better luck in 2013. Maybe the Phillies get worse, but Washington will only get better and Atlanta certainly isn’t going backwards. So if the Marlins want to compete, they need to change something, and unfortunately that doesn’t leave many options.

    When you look at who had value on that team and who you’d want to keep as a “nuclease” to build around, Hanley sticks out. He’s not a great defender (near the bottom in terms of UZR), his average is down, his K-rate is up, and as a 3B/CI is power isn’t that special.

    Finally, the golden rule for every GM is simple — Never trade away young MLB-ready pitching. Quality starting pitching is expensive and average FA pitchers rarely “break out” — teams either develop pitching or pay out the ass to buy it. The Marlins were on the other side of that rule twice this trade season, and Eovaldi is a much better young pitcher than he is getting credit for.

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    • jdbolick says:

      Eovaldi is a much better young pitcher than he is getting credit for.

      Based on what? He’s a two-pitch pitcher who can’t miss bats. Is he better than he’s getting credit for because his 4-seam fastball hits the high 90s? It also happens to be straight and he doesn’t command it very well. So scouts think he probably ends up as a reliever, and the statistical profile is extremely weak. What is there to like?

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      • MLB Rainmaker says:

        That’s a pretty short-sighted review of the kid. He’s the third youngest starter at the MLB level and has an ERA below 4.00 in 90+ innings. In prospect terms, that shows a player who’s physical development hasn’t caught up to his level, yet he’s still having success. A great example is Jurrickson Profar, his stats are nice, but he’s never hit over .300 and he’s mashing near Mike Olt’s level, but Profar is untouchable (and the universal top prospect) — because he’s doing all of this while much younger than his competition.

        Eovaldi’s going to get bigger, he’s going to get stronger and he’s going to get better control of his pitches. But today, at 22 as one of literally a handful of 90’s born MLB players, he’s got enough talent to be a #3-#4 starter in the NL and a ceiling to be a #2.

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      • jdbolick says:

        People still bring up ERA on FanGraphs to argue that a pitcher is good? Over 91 major league innings, Eovaldi has a strikeout to walk ratio of 1.4 : 1. That’s better than Aaron Cook, but still pretty discouraging. With his documented inability to miss bats, he’ll need to show well above average command and control to be an above average major league pitcher, and right now he’s a very long way from that.

        Let’s be clear, he absolutely DOES NOT have #2 potential. He arguably doesn’t even have #3 potential. He’s a guy who could be an innings eater if everything goes right, but as noted, multiple respected sources are reporting scouts as projecting him to be a reliever over the long-term. Also, unlike hitters pitchers generally do not see a dramatic rise in effectiveness over time, so being young isn’t particularly relevant aside from how long the team has him under contract.

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  35. Mike R. says:

    Jeffrey Loria and Charles Wang are in their own tier as far as sports goes.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  36. Eric says:

    The problem is that the term Firesale causes a knee-jerk reaction in S. Fla much like anything associated with the name Castro. Baseball teams rely on the casual fan more than anything to supplement the income…the die hards will be there no matter what…Joe Casual fan wants name recognition and unfortunately Joe Casual will not realize that getting Hanley’s ENTIRE payroll off the books is a wonderful move. If they had eaten his salary would they have likely gotten a better return for him? Yes….but now that the payroll is off the books they can actually try to UPGRADE the roster in the offseason with that extra 15 mil. 15 mil per year can buy a very nice player for a team. I have been curious to see what Loria would do in year 2 moreso than year 1. Everyone knew he’d be a buyer in year 1…the subsequent years are really where he has to show his willingness to compete by signing needed talent.

    Again, the most damaging thing here is the idiot people and sportswriters ,who much like in the Castro situation, just want to throw FIRESALE into their headlines because they know it will get a few reads and grab some attention. Any fan with half a brain will see this as a good move for the team. The Marlins farm system was depleted and needed a good restocking.

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    • Jones says:

      Hey did your mom drop on your head when you were a kid? When exactly has Loria shown he is willing to commit big dollars after a firesale? I bet you were one of those who thought the Marlins would spend the money they saved on the 2005 firesale. Oh yeah that’s right, it went down to a pathetic 15 million. Keep living in a dream world where you actually think Loria is spending that 15 million on other players. The payroll will be down to 60 million in no time.

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  37. Eric says:

    The independence increase is underwhelming. It isto uup but ticket prices are the cheapest in baseball

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  38. The Nicker says:

    I’m taking Passan’s side on this one.

    Loria and Samson deserve the absolute opposite of the benefit of the doubt.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  39. jcxy says:

    South Coast Boutique is having a firesale?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jdbolick says:

      Hah, great reference. I think Samson made the fire too real for them and probably failed to highlight the sale.

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  40. Pinstripe Wizard says:

    Everyone’s disdain for Loria set aside, I actually like the moves the Marlins have made this season. One move that everyone seems to be forgetting is the Ruggiano deal. That move has worked out brilliantly for them.

    In Sanchez, they traded a guy that to me always seem to underperform what he was capable of. I think of him a lot like Max Scherzer. When they are on, they have dominant performances, but that only happens about once every two months. The also traded a productive utility guy in Infante. He’s a good piece to have on a team, but Baseball Reference similarity scores have him most similar to Adam Kennedy through his current age. I don’t think many people would be upset that their team traded Adam Kennedy. In return they got a guy that is an elite pitching prospect, whether he has struggled in the bigs this year or not, and catching depth. Both things that teams can never have enough of.

    The Hanley trade was a salary dump, but that doesn’t mean it was part of a firesale. If his name wasn’t Hanley Ramirez, I doubt people would be complaining about trading basically a replacement level player that is making $15M for a middle of the rotation pitching prospect and guy with a chance to be a fast-track reliever. If you take out two starts in June where Eovaldi got hit pretty hard (6/25 and 6/30), his ERA is 2.74.

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    • Jones says:

      ” If you take out two starts in June where Eovaldi got hit pretty hard (6/25 and 6/30), his ERA is 2.74.”

      IF you take out all of Daniel Cabrera’s bad starts, he would be a good pitcher!

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      • Pinstripe Wizard says:

        So we should assume that the two bad starts he has are more representative of his actual ability than his 8 other starts? With such a small sample size, one bad game can really inflate your ERA. The guy had two in a row. A rookie going through a tough week isn’t exactly breaking news. Is he a true 2.74 ERA guy? Probably not, but I’m willing to assume that 20% of his starts won’t be starts where his ERA is over 10.00.

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  41. John says:

    I see a lot of factual proof in this article but what about the emotional proof ? Facts don’t support how I feel and who are you Dave to deny me the emotional proof to support how angry I feel !? I need to feel like I’ve been looking at that awful thing in Marlins center field for a reason and that reason was Hanley Ramirez, so what now ? Am I just supposed to start believing its a piece of tacky art that cost tax payers millions ? That’s ludicrous.

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  42. Ben says:

    Great article Dave, I wish I could disagree with you more often, but alas it doesn’t happen often. I wrote about this on my blog on Tuesday. http://summerpastime.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-marlin-or-trout.html

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  43. Hurtlockertwo says:

    I find it facinating that when the Marlins got Reyes it made them a great threat because they had Hanley Ramirez too. Now Hanley is chopped liver for some reason, while this same set of writers try to tell us that Adam Dunn is such a great player. I’d be pissed if I was a Marlins fan, you can paint a terd any color you want but it’s still a terd.

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  44. Sleight of Hand Pro says:

    shut up blog boy.

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  45. Josh says:

    How about now?

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