Continuing on with the organizational rankings series, which kicked off this afternoon. Due to popular demand, I’m going to add in a section on ownership, which will cover the team’s financial health as well as the qualities of the upper level executives not in the baseball operations department.
Rankings So Far
#29: Florida Marlins
What can I say about Jeff Loria? He almost single-handedly dismantled baseball in Montreal, ran the Expos into the ground, and then conspired with Bud Selig to pull off a deal that saw him sell the Expos to MLB and he took ownership of the Florida Marlins. Since then, he’s run the Marlins as a glorified farm team for the rest of baseball, offering little financial support to the baseball operations department and giving them a shoestring budget that requires them to dump almost every last bit of talent from the organization once they become eligible for salary arbitration. As he did in Montreal, he’s focused on getting a new stadium from the local government, and will put no effort into fielding a contending team until the city complies. At this point, he’s in the running for the title of worst baseball owner of all time. And he doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
Front Office: B-
Larry Beinfest and company actually do pretty good work, considering what they are given to work with. They scout well, and continue to unearth useful players on the cheap. His acquisition of Hanley Ramirez has worked out better than even he could have imagined, and by surrounding Ramirez with guys like Dan Uggla (Rule 5 draft), Jorge Cantu (minor league free agent), and Cody Ross (acquired for cash), the Marlins were able to field a respectable offense while getting by on a payroll of approximately $0. They’ve sacrificed a lot of defense in the process, however, and the formula will never result in a World Championship, but it’s probably as good as anyone could do, given the circumstances.
Major League Talent: B-
Last summer, we ranked Ramirez as the second most valuable commodity in baseball. The Marlins have their young superstar locked up long term, but with their payroll, they’ll continue to struggle to get enough good position players around him. There is some talent there, with Uggla and Jeremy Hermida providing some offense and Cameron Maybin looking like a potential top of the order hitter and center fielder, but it’s the pitching staff that will carry this team. Ricky Nolasco is an all-star in the making, and it’s tough to find a better group of arms than Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad, Andrew Miller, and Anibal Sanchez rounding out the rotation. That’s an extremely talented group, but there’s significant health questions with almost all of them, and the Marlins defense won’t do them any favors. But, with a few good hitters and some good arms, this is a team that should win about as often as they lose, and has some upside beyond that.
Minor League Talent: B+
There’s some serious upside down on the farm. Mike Stanton has as much raw power as any prospect in the game, and Logan Morrison, Kyle Skipworth, and Matt Dominguez are all among the better prospects in the game at their respective positions. Gaby Sanchez and Chris Coghlan provide some more polished, lower upside depth, and Sean West, Ryan Tucker, and Jose Ceda give the team some more good arms on the way. Player development is the strength of the Marlins organization, and they continue to excel in this area.
Ownership screws the whole situation up here, as the rest of the franchise actually performs pretty well. With a better owner committed to winning baseball and developing some positive revenue streams, the Marlins could be a force in the NL East. Instead, the good work of their baseball people is wasted as the team acts as a conduit to shift talent to other major league clubs. The Marlins are getting a lot of stuff right, but the overriding direction of the organization is not towards winning, and that cripples the overall health of the organization.