The Marlins Are a Well-Run Company

It’s true, probably. If you remove emotion from the equation, the Marlins of the past two decades have been a successful corporation. Even under the newest ownership, they’ve satisfied all of the requirements you might put on a great franchise. Your appraisal of their work to date, and even their trade this week, includes emotion, but an honest eye towards the bottom line can put a different spin on all of it.

What could you ask of your team? A championship. Winning seasons. Profitability. Fulfilling ballpark experiences. Strong decision making. Clear eyes when it comes to competitiveness and a strong heart when it comes to making bold moves. The ability to sign big free agents when it makes sense, and the knowledge to know when it doesn’t make sense to do so. We’re getting vaguer by the statement, but so far so good for the Marlins.

This expansion team has won championships under two owners, including Jeffrey Loria. They won the series four years after they were created. They won it all six years later. The San Diego Padres were born a quarter-century before the Marlins and have never World Series. Ditto the Milwaukee Brewers. It’s unseemly to point to TEH RINGZ, but they are the ultimate goal of every franchise, and the Marlins have satisfied the requirement.

Teams are companies, and they should have an eye out for making money. There was general uproar when Deadspin revealed that the Marlins had been making money for years despite pleading poverty and taking in revenue sharing money, but anyone financially associated with the team should probably have been happy with leadership for working the system that way. Perhaps anger directed at leadership — tasked with making money — should be directed at the system instead.

Maybe they could have used more of their profits when it came to the stadium. Their involvement in the financing of Marlins Park was a baseball-low 30%. It certainly wasn’t as civic-friendly as the deal in San Francisco, which was privately financed. But again, isn’t anger at the front office misplaced? The decision to publicly finance a stadium was made by publicly-elected officials — to some extent, it reflected the will of the people. Did the taxpayers have a false decision between two groups that each would have bowed to the Marlins’ will? Sounds like a failing of the political system. Were the pols duped by Loria? They should have known that new stadiums don’t bring jobs. It certainly isn’t a bad business move to take advantage of a willing population, even if it is Gordan-Gecko-like.

The Marlins needed a new park. Their front office decided they couldn’t or wouldn’t build a new park with only private funding. The end result was still a new, mostly beautiful park for Marlins fans.

Evident so far is a clear-eyed, goal-oriented approach, optics be damned. The Marlins wanted rings, profits, and a new ballpark and didn’t care about how it looked. That sort of mindset filtered all the way through to the baseball decisions in a way that, well, in a way that was very saber-seeming.

One of the main tenets of the statistical approach to baseball is honesty. Numbers can help see past any mystical optimism into the stark reality of a team’s competitiveness. How much the Marlins actually depended on statistical forecasts in their decision-making is debatable, but one thing is clear: they knew when they had a shot at winning, and they knew when they didn’t.

There are plenty of ways to spin their approach more negatively. Pump and dump. Boom and bust. Fun, then fire sale.

But if your team is not going to be competitive, why keep high-priced assets around? The Astros traded away Ben Francisco, Steve Pearce, Carlos Lee, Brandon Lyon, J.A. Happ, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez and Chris Johnson this season, there was no uproar. Houston wasn’t going to win, and so they sold their older, more expensive pieces for future pieces. Nobody blinked. Totally reasonable. The Marlins showed last year that they were more than a piece or two short of competing in a suddenly loaded National League East. So they sold their parts. Do the same thing a couple times, and you’re a villain, it seems. But why spend on mid-tier free agents just to go through the motions? It didn’t do Omar Minaya’s Mets any good to stay with the pack and cling to competitiveness with bad deals. Would you rather be a Mets fan? There’s a highly-leveraged team hemorrhaging money that hasn’t won a championship in over a quarter-century, and has muddled it’s way through middling seasons without bold rebuilding periods.

Public relations is a huge part of this picture, on the other hand. Each of these aspects of the Marlins’ past work has upset the public even as they achieved profits, rings, and wins for the franchise. Upsetting the public affects brand loyalty. Fans may identify the ‘bust’ parts of the cycle just as quickly as the team’s front office, and stay away until they sense a boom. Future free agents may be wary of signing with the team for fear of being shipped out the minute the team hits a rough patch. This bold, fearless approach to running the Marlins has not won friends, or the loyalty that travels with them. The downside is obvious.

Winning is the only reliable way to put butts in seats. Zeroes before the decimal get contracts signed. Rings can build a loyalty of their own. This approach may seem heartless and conniving — it may even BE heartless and conniving — but the results have been remarkable. This vehemence pointed towards the Marlins’ leadership has come before, and it was mostly ignored for a year during the exuberance of a new stadium and shiny new free agents. Excitement may come again under the right circumstances.

If excitement will come for a new ownership group — Dave Cameron seemed to suggest a sale is the best future for the Marlins’ ownership after these moves — then they did an even better job. Even if selling the team has some pitfalls — most notably a profit-sharing plan that would take much of the money out of the sale out of Loria’s pockets — the team’s long-term health outlook just got rosier.

Think about acquiring the Marlins now, with a man-child Giancarlo Stanton in the middle, flanked by a young roster. If the team can find a buyer for Ricky Nolasco, there won’t be a player on the team with more than a $5 million salary. The overall payroll will sit under $20 million without their highest-paid pitcher, and it will have a chance to go down in the future. The Marlins will have a history of making profits and will take in revenue sharing money. In a new stadium.

That seems like a well-run enterprise and an attractive corporation to acquire.




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


95 Responses to “The Marlins Are a Well-Run Company”

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  1. MrKnowNothing says:

    The firesale isn’t itself bad; it’s the fact that it happened after a year. Sure, they may be pragmatic and honest with themselves, but what kind of process is it that after a year they say, “OK. We suck. Time to start over.”

    If you’re willing to scrap everything after a year, that tells me that the initial decision wasn’t a good one – but the Marlins are still employing those same decision makers. Why should anyone believe their next plan will pan out?

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      It might just have been their one nod to optics over their past two decades. “We have to do something since they gave us this park, right?” I mean it certainly didn’t seem like they built a winner overnight with those signings, and they still didn’t give anyone no trade clauses, so they might have had this possibility in mind all along.

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      • channelclemente says:

        So that explains why they RICCOed the bum, Luria, in that Expos fiasco. He’s a boil on baseball behind.

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      • Rags says:

        Ugh. I’m sorry to be that guy, but can we please stop using “optics” to mean “appearance” or even “seemliness”? Optics is the science of light.

        Interesting article though.

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      • fuster says:

        by selling off everybody in the batting order BUT Stanton they’ve probably insured that this year Stanton will have 15 HRs, 65 RBIs, a 240 BA and an on-base percentage of 400.

        it would seem that a well-run company would flip him before his value erodes.

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    • Bip says:

      I really think you can say the exact same thing about the much-lauded Red Sox in the recent Adrian Gonzalez deal.

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    • one says:

      They didn’t even give it a year. Only til July!

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  2. Jaack says:

    There are a lot of words to describe the Marlins’ new park. Beautiful is about the last word I’d touch, right next to traditional and xylophone.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      I thought ‘mostly’ threw a touch of irony into that word, but there are angles where it looks really nice. And then there’s all the rest of it.

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      • Jaack says:

        I would agree that it looks nice from certain angles. Looking into the bathroom mirror, face planted on the field, or from outer space, it looks pretty great.

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    • Kevin B says:

      I disagree. I think that the park looks perfectly xylophone.

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    • Bip says:

      Yeah no kidding, that thing is nauseating to look at.

      On the other hand, you’d think Stanton would be right at home, being as it looks like a huge McDonald’s playpen.

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  3. Tim says:

    The Marlins wanted… a new ballpark and didn’t care about how it looked.

    That’s for sure.

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  4. Caught you! says:

    Good try, Marlins PR department.

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  5. Kyle H says:

    Bain Capital is probably a decently run company too. Still, fuck them

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  6. Sparkles Peterson says:

    Pissing off your customers is bad business. The Marlins’ “customers” have primarily been other MLB franchises, which contributed two thirds of Florida’s revenue streams under programs intended to maintain competitive balance by enabling teams like the Marlins to sign veteran players. You have to believe that Loria and company have jeopardized these revenue streams with their fraudulent practices just as much as they jeopardized the third that was coming from the local community they just screwed.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      This is the best argument against his tactics, and yet… it hasn’t hurt him or the team yet. Plenty of people hated Loria before this fire sale, and yet they made money. The math is simple — get a tv contract, a good stadium you didn’t pay fore, and take in rev sharing, and the fans matter less.

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      • tz says:

        Looks like one of the benefits of a “scorched-earth” P.R. strategy – once you are deep in the P.R. doghouse, you don’t have to worry what the others think.

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      • wobatus says:

        The fans didn’t show when the team won 84 games in 2008 and 87 games in 2009 and still no one showed up at the park. I agree that it isn’t just Loria that keeps the fans away.

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      • Sparkles Peterson says:

        Hasn’t hurt them yet, but MLB did pressure teams to spend their revenue sharing money on players a year or two ago, and then made changes to amateur compensation designed to immediately put the money on the field. MLB has taken steps towards killing the Marlins’ cannibalization of other teams’ profits, and I have to suspect that the situation has been brought to a head here. If Loria does not quickly place the team up for sale, I’ll be shocked if further changes to revenue sharing are not rushed into place.

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      • Antonio bananas says:

        Wotabus, there isn’t a nice equation like “80 wins equals 2 million fans”. It’s expectations for about the first4 months. You could go 18-5 in April and not see an increase if the general perception is that it’s a bad team that is going to lose. This is what happens if you have a team full of guys no one knows. You could have a team of the best no named players and make the playoffs but still it see a significant boost because the perception wasn’t there.

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      • David says:

        The Marlins aren’t creating value for the league, however. They are skimmin off the top of the rest of Baseball’s profits while not pulling equal(any) weight.

        You’ve done a pretty good job of highlighting the…positives… of that approach from a self interest standpoint. But essentially Miami is an exceptionally expensive farm system. They aren’t growing the game (which is a big enough problem league wide) at all. Additionatlly, I question there ability to properly evaluate value, either in contract cost or in prospects. I think they did a pretty poor job two straight offseasons in getting value.

        But maybe as importantly, they fail to recognize that Baseball is an iterated game. Free agents have little to no reason to trust that organization. Eventually this will move the Marlins to a suboptimal equilibrium, where even when the team is good fans don’t come out, the only players you can sign are signing specifically for money (and likely can’t get it anywhere else) which will skew the price of talent for the Marlins versus the rest of the league, making their free agent dealings even less efficient. How long will other owners pay Loria to run a farm organization, when they would be better off investing in Latin America or elsewhere. He isn’t drawing crowds, he isn’t helping foot the bill for the players, he isn’t generating television revenue (who will NEVER pony up anything decent for this team in the future, as long as Loria runs the team), he is contributing nothing to baseball.

        The only rational move for him is to get out, fortune intact. I find it hard to fathom how he hasn’t burned to many bridges in Baseball, from media to advertising to agents to literally name a single facet of MLB operations, to find any kind of future success out of flukey postseason runs of well timed waves of prospects.

        I do wish I had J.D., or knew a decent Florida attorney. I have no idea what the standards for fraud are, but there HAS to be some kind of bullshit trumped up charge an overzealos government can get him with that the libertarian in me would generally oppose (but it would be so friggin sweet to see loria burn through his fortune defending himself). That guy just sucks. Seriously, a bad person.

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      • wobatus says:

        Antonio, the team was above .500 in 2008 and even better in 2009. 2008 should have given the fans a hint the team was improving. They still didn’t show. Admittedly it wasn’t a great stadium. Fans also don’t really show for the Rays, and they are a very well-run team. Even finishing first and being competitive every year they can’t draw 2 million. Their stadium also stinks. But I get the feeling people in Florida have better stuff to do then go to baseball games.

        The Marlins did draw 3 million their first year. And more than 2 million this year. But in between, win or lose, they really didn’t draw that much. This is not all Jeff Loria’s fault. I think the complaining about Loria is overblown. Eno is right. People should complain about the politicians, not Loria.

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      • Antonio bananas says:

        Wotabus, not really. They didn’t make the playoffs and always had a high roster turnover. Plus those were the prime Philly powerhouse years. Like I said, it’s the perception of the team. Nobody thought they’d be a contender, they were right.

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  7. odditie says:

    When you go to this level it makes it difficult to not only sign big free agents now but even notable free agents or a guy like Stanton who in his own words is pissed.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      But they’ve done it before… I still think money is the biggest driver for free agents. The retort is Pujols, who didn’t sign because of no-trade, but this team has firesaled before and they still got Bell, Buehrle and Reyes to ink.

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      • harold zoid says:

        They’ve done it before but they also won in both of those instances. So the rationalization could be something like “Yea they disbanded, but at least those guys got their rings.” Players, if they believed they had a real shot at being part of a championship team, would swallow the pill of a potential firesale a bit easier, I think.

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  8. Padres Fan says:

    FYI, the citizens of San Diego funded 70% of PETCO Park, too.

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  9. wobatus says:

    I like this take, Eno. One quibble. It apparently wasn’t the will of the people to pay for the lion’s share of the stadium. Supported by the mayor and voted for by the County Commission. They voted out that mayor and voted in one of the County Commissioners who opposed it. And a lawsuit to prevent the deal was tossed out by a judge. So the people did speak, but only got to really voice their displeasure at the polls after-the-fact.

    Also, MLB joined in the threat that there’d be no baseball in Miami absent that stadium deal.

    But I agree with the overall tenor of your piece.

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  10. Chris Hannum says:

    This is like arguing that Anheuser-Busch InBev is a well-run company since it’s profits are rising despite hemorrhaging dissatisfied customers. Declining sales and increasing margins cannot indefinitely boost profits.

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    • Antonio bananas says:

      Amberv was losing market share to craft (better) beers and hard liquor. That’s why they’ve come out with their margarit thing, the craft beer they have I thinkits ofallon, and the bud light platinum with the higher alcohol content.

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  11. tz says:

    Food for thought:

    What difference would it be if:

    a) Loria sells the Marlins for $500 million, based in part on the value of G. Stanton at this point in his career, or

    b) Loria sells G. Stanton to another team for $50 million, and later sells the Marlins for $450 million.

    Even though b) seems like a blatant money grab from Loria, does he gain anything on that vs. option a)?

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  12. Mike P says:

    If the goal was just to make money then yes Loria has done a good job. The 2001-2005 Tigers made money too. Terrible, but profitable.

    The issue is that everyone else other than the owner(s), his bankers, and possibly the team president consider the main goal to be the acquisition of another of those rings.

    As an owner, I would think, if you want to win the best you can hope for is to break even. Your other businesses can make you rich and you’ll be fine as long as the team pays it’s way.

    Really if baseball was truly concerned they would change the rule to say that the revenue sharing must be spent on the team and not go into the owners pockets as profit. The Luria would have no choice but to have a good team in order to get his profit.

    If I lived in Miami I would not support the team as long as Loria owned it. But as we have seen supporting any team lines his pockets.

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    • Antonio bananas says:

      How do you prove that? I thinks cap and minimum would be the easiest way.

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    • Mike says:

      I agree with this. While it makes sense from a business standpoint, I feel like you shouldn’t be in baseball just to treat it like a business. Make your money from other businesses; the goal of a baseball team should be to win. If you’re only in it for the money, get out of the sport.

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  13. Mitt Romney says:

    #1 Marlins fan

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  14. Kinanik says:

    The goal of the commissioner’s office should be to make it so that being a well-run business and being a well-run baseball team are the same thing. If being run well requires that the owner essentially be a really rich fan, baseball will increasingly become victim of Loria-McCourt type regimes. Is this a new phenomenon, or something that has been developing over the past decade or two? I know early in baseball there were all sorts of business problems, e.g., Cleveland Spiders, but I don’t know that since then there has been a period where good business=bad baseball. What changed?

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  15. JT says:

    Brilliance and evil can come in the same package. Some people say “how brilliant!” and others say “how evil!”. We know which camp this article falls into.

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  16. TKDC says:

    This article is a straw man. The beef with the fish is that they are douche bags, bad for baseball, and unworthy of fan support. Nothing you wrote combats those gripes.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      Not so sure about the fan support one. It’s tough being a Mets fan, and for all the stuff going around that it sucks to be a Marlins fan, would I trade some of the Mets’ middling seasons for two championships? I think I would. And bad for baseball? Maybe on rev sharing, but if more teams were clear-eyed about when they were competitive and when they weren’t, we’d see more trades and some better-run baseball teams.

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      • TKDC says:

        Firstly, the championships thing might work in reverse, but after hearing on Fangraphs over and over that once you make the playoffs, it is something of a crapshoot, knowing that the Marlins have made the playoffs twice ever, both as wild cards, and happen to win, it seems disingenuous. The Mets, like most teams in baseball, have made the playoffs more frequently.

        Secondly, I would not want to be the fan of a team if I had no reason to believe any player would be there for more than 4-5 years. Believe it or not, many fans form attachments to players and are sad to see their favorites leave. That isn’t a possibility with the Marlins; it is a certainty.

        Thirdly, I’m not sure the Mets really deserve fan support either.

        As for “bad for baseball,” res ipsa loquitur.

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      • Eric says:

        I disagree strongly with this… even though at a certain point fans are rooting for the laundry and not the players, most people always at least have a pretense of focusing on one or a few players that they root for and follow. The real danger here is that when you turn over a roster repeatedly, and never hold on to anyone, you never build any of that bond between fans and players. Which means that you’re relying solely on fans that root for the laundry… which might be a successful strategy for a team like Boston/Yankees/etc that have decades of fans built up, but not for a relatively new team that no-one over the age of 19 grew up with.

        Although it’s more common, it doesn’t even need to be the star – e.g., I’d argue that Wakefield provided a common thread for the Sox for a long time, and though there were players that were definitely better throughout his time there, there was always a common thread running through the teams. With Miami, there’s none of that – the team this year is completely different than the team last year, which is completely different than the team 4 years ago.

        And as a Mets fan, there’s zero way I would trade their past decade for the Marlins. At least it’s fun to watch Mets games and have some sort of connection with the team… and they’re approaching the same issue, as honestly if they trade Wright & Dickey (and Ike Davis, who if anything seems more likely to be traded than those two), other than watching Harvey’s starts I don’t really see a compelling reason to spend significant money or effort to turn in to their games either.

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      • TKDC says:

        Since ’95 (unfair to count ’93 against them), the only teams with 2 or fewer playoff appearances are the Marlins (2), Nats/Expos (1), Pirates (0), Brewers (2), and Royals (0).

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      • todmod says:

        Yeah, the two championship argument is extremely disingenuous. If the Marlins were the best team in baseball every 10 years, that would be an interesting argument. But they hit the jackpot with their playoff lottery ticket. That’s not a formula anyone else can follow or that they can expect in the future.

        And it’s not a coincidence that even the new ballpark couldn’t bring in the crowds for the Marlins. Even terrible teams in Milwaukee and Pittsburgh got big ballpark boosts.

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      • wobatus says:

        From 2003-2010 they were 14 games over .500, finishing over .500 5 of 8 years, drawing horribly even while winning a world series in that time. How can they hope to sign even home grown talent if they don’t have a ton of revenue? Loria likes to make money off the team. So what? Is he supposed to run it at break even for everyone else’s sake. Go find someone to buy the team from him who doesn’t mind not making money.

        Hanley Ramirez was on the team each of the last 7 years, so not like no player was around. So was Josh Johnson. So was Ricky Nolasco. So was Anibal sanchez (even the Red Sox only had 4 players on their roster this year from 2007: Youk, Ortiz, Pedroia and Beckett, and they jettisoned 2 this year, same as the marlins jettisoned all 4).

        In 2011 the team was bad but clearing house to go all in for the new stadium year of 2012. It didn’t work. They spent but the team was awful. Ramirez was finally dealt. I think what they did makes perfect sense, and the idea fans had no players to identify with seems belied by the actual facts. ALL teams turnover over 6-7 years almost the entire team.

        The only guy left from the 2006 Mets is David Wright (and the soon to be gone Mike Pelfrey). The Mets have a huge fanbase advantage and of course have been bad and had a ponzi-scheme related financial issue, but as Eno points out they have even been less stable than the Marlins. And I would lovve for the Mets to have 16 million in salary next year and Giancarlo Stanton.

        I really think the handwringing over Loria is overdone. Of course, we will see what he does with the freed up salary room. If he does offer money, I think players will still come.

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  17. masonzippo says:

    Putting aside the business argument, is there an argument that this deal actually makes sense for the Marlins? I get the schizophrenia argument. But they gave up two guys with a year left under contract (for a year the Marlins can’t reasonably expect to compete with the Nats & Braves and probably the Mets), the overpriced Reyes, and Buehrle, who is a model of consitency but not the future. In return, they got 3 of the top 10 Jays’ prospects (basic the FG Top -15 list done by Marc Hulet), a big league SS and a 22-year old Alvarez who maybe has a lot of upside? And if one takes into account the trade with the Tigers, that got the Marlins a probable every-day starting catched in Brantly, and another young SP with upside in Jacob Turner, and prying Eovaldi from the Dodgers for Hanley, it looks like the Marlins have 4 under 22-year old MLB arms (Turner, Eovaldi, Alvarez, Nicolino) (and X years under control – I don’t know how much but it must be a lot?), which seems like it might make a lot of sense. And they dumped > $200M in contracts (all in)? It looks like the Jays were able to keep their top 3 or 4 prospects (D”Arnaud, Gose, Sanchez, Syndergaard) and one wonders if the Marlins tried for them, but otherwise this doesn’t look incredibly crazy to me. If I were a Marlins fan I would’ve been more upset by the overpays last year (and trading for Ozzie Guillen) than I am by this. Maybe I’m alone in this thinking, I realize.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      I agree with you. I mean Reyes is the only one that gives me pause, but for the most part, this was a rational reaction to a roster that had a gaggle of over-priced older players, and they traded those for younger players. It’s just a complete overhaul, and the timing sucks, but the idea behind it (are we going to compete next season? no? trade.) is solid.

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      • Crap Shoot says:

        I don’t think the idea of gutting 100 million dollars in payroll in less than a calendar year in order to roll the dice on a gaggle of unproven prospects is “solid” at all. There’s no reason for Miami to operate on a 20 million dollar payroll other than to maximize profits for ownership. That may be good business for the guy who signs the checks but it’s a pretty rotten deal for the people who actually have to buy what that business is selling.

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      • Paul says:

        I agree also. Ultra groundballing Henderson Alvarez with very good up the middle defense, moving to the NL, and pitching in that expansive park? Yes, I believe that is quite a brilliant move. Eovaldi, Turner, others acquired via trade makes for an under-rated and potentially very good rotation in the very near future.

        They are in good shape now for the long run, as it is quite evident that they will need to run the business like Tampa, since fan support is equally as tepid.

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      • One Swell Foop says:

        I call bullshit.

        Josh Johnson for less than $14M, and you get a draft pick when he goes via free agency? That’s not a player you jettison. At all.

        Look. It’s pretty damn simple. Loria the racketeer has removed 13 of his 14 highest-paid players since July. That is an *unprecedented* moneygrab by ownership, and has zip.shit to do with trying to field a successful baseball team.

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    • Tim says:

      Yeah, we can maybe go back to the beginning and suggest that they could have held steady on Hanley and tried to be competitive next year, but once they decided not to do that, moving these guys as well has to be the right thing to do. There’s no point in a half-assed rebuilding.

      Consensus seems to be that the Red Sox “won” when they sold half their team to the Dodgers. I don’t see how this is any different, except for the lack of passionate Marlins fans.

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    • hk says:

      I agree, especially when you also consider that they back-loaded the Reyes and Buehrle contracts. They signed Reyes for $17.7M / year for his age 29-34 seasons and Buehrle for $14.5M / year for his age 33-36 seasons, paid each of them $10M and now Toronto gets Reyes for $19.2M / year for his age 30-34 seasons and Buehrle for $16M / year for his age 34-36 seasons.

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    • Mike says:

      From a baseball sense, I agree completely. If I were a Marlins fan, though, I think this whole situation would make me more upset and pessimistic than the good baseball move would make me happy.

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  18. waynetolleson says:

    My response to this article requires three simple words:

    Bull

    F*cking

    Sh*t.

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  19. Owen G says:

    I just want to say that it has been an exceptionally good day at Fangraphs. I really appreciated the two different perspectives that Eno and Dave have provided on the Marlins situation. I also thought Dave’s article on the Torii Hunter signing was fantastic. Just a great job all around combining solid quantitative and qualitative analysis. I only wish I had more time to read everything on the site.

    Great job!

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  20. Ewing says:

    I never knew Armond White started writing baseball articles. This is as contrarian as it gets.

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  21. Tomrigid says:

    It’s the stadium. Without that, they’re just being the same flavor of douche as every other team. But the way they financed it — the dirty politics and crass design and all the rest, makes this latest teardown seem like blatant theft.

    Fans aren’t shareholders — they’re stakeholders, and their stake got stuck in their hearts.

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  22. Andy says:

    I think the Marlins are a very intriguing organization. As an avid arm chair GM who’s favorite games are things like Out of the park , the fact they turn over roster in this manner is very very interesting.

    However, I don’t feel like they are very good at it or at least as good as they could be. There are teams that build through the farm. Minny and Atlanta have historically done so and had long runs of success. As an avid fan of GM posturing, GM’s like Billy Bean seem to have it right. Why it takes Miami so many years between booms is surprising considering their sell offs. You would think they would dump the saved money into their developmental prospects.

    It seems like their plan is a more successful version of the pirates sell off than the A’s/Tampa

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  23. Oliver says:

    I think the premise of this article is wrongheaded. The purpose of a company (usually) isn’t just “to make money.” The purpose is to provide a good or service in a way that the provider is compensated, i.e. mutually beneficial transactions. For example: if you’re a carpenter your job isn’t to make money, it’s to make and sell furniture. The money you make is compensation for the time, energy and materials used to make the furniture.

    In this sense then, the “purpose” of a baseball team is to win. People are upset that the Marlins don’t seem to be working towards that. Every stumbling block is seen as a reason to trade away every star on the team. Franchise players get traded away or are let go during free agency. An 87-win season is followed by standing pat, not adding free agents to get into the postseason. All of this creates a sense that the team doesn’t care about its record and that keeps away fans and it keeps away players, whether or not the reputation is deserved.

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    • wobatus says:

      They didn’t add payroll after 2009 likely because they planned to really go mall in for 2012.

      BTW, the players like to make every last dime they can usually, too. They get off fairly lightly while Loria is portrayed as the devil incarnate for wanting to make money off the team within the rules.

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  24. brad says:

    So basically it’s a good policy to lie to your customers and pick the pockets of your coworkers provided you end up with a higher checking balance at the end of the day?

    Loria’s plan is to profit at the cost of the fans, the other teams, and ultimately the good of the sport itself. That it works is not a validation of the plan, it’s vulture capitalism at its most extreme. Loria is no better than the NHL owners trying to kill the sport for higher short term profits.

    Imagine if every team were run like this. Is that what the writer of this article actually wants? Claiming “it works” would seem so. The Marlins are a business AND a franchise. If a McDonald’s owner sells his McD ingredients out the back door and uses crap he buys from the gas station next door he might manage to up his profits, but he’s not growing his business and by putting out a sub-par product he’s harming the McDonalds brand. And if there were only 30 McD’s in the world that harm would be substantial.

    Besides which, part of the reason baseball has an anti-trust exemption is the idea that it has public value.

    That it means Jeffery Loria earns a few more million in the coming years does not make the Marlins a well run company, unless you really buy into the idea that the only point of business is for the people at the very, very top to remove value from society.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Antonio bananas says:

      Also known as romnian economics

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    • wobatus says:

      Only Loria “removed” value? People are forced to watch the games and pay to go to games? Jose Reyes, Buehrle and Bell all get to take million out of the revenues of the team but they are altruistically doing it for the good of the game?

      I guarantee you Stu Sternberg wants to make money. And his team is very well run. And they win. But they can’t draw fans in Florida either.

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      • Cidron says:

        Yes, I agree.. Tampa cannot draw fans. But, how much of that is due to the Trop, and not the team? Bad stadium, bad location of stadium, bland interior and exterior.

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    • Slacker George says:

      Good point about every team using the Marlin franchise as a model. Compare with if every team used the “Moneyball” Athletics as a model. Which model would be a better product for the fan and media corporations to invest in? Free markets need immediate “tar and feather” squads. Otherwise, the retribution is too late and too little.

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  25. I see a lot of people putting words in the mouths of Marlins’ fans. I’d like to hear from a Marlins’ fan, if there were such a thing.

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  26. bflaff says:

    You could only concoct an argument that the Marlins are a well-run corporation if you ignore the fraud and the heavy (if not complete) reliance on corporate welfare. By the logic employed here, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC was a paragon of corporate success… at least until the feds showed up with warrants and dollies. Loria’s in the same boat. If someone decided to turn off the free money spigot, the franchise would miss payroll faster than you could say, “Hey, has anyone seen Jeff?”

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    • Paul says:

      You just described every single Wall Street investment bank. Without the Fed’s free money at the overnight window, they’d all be unable to honor their obligations many times every year. And this is well known and deemed acceptable by the government.

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  27. Jim Lahey says:

    Aren’t the Marlins helping the rest of baseball by being shitty? Thinking about it…

    They can’t draw more than 20k on their own regardless of time of year – other teams draw significantly better. Especially in their division (all major markets) If for example the Braves are 15-4 vs the Marlins, that boosts their win % and therefore their attendance. The Braves draw a lot better so I’m thinking transferring these wins from the Marlins to the Braves actually makes baseball MORE money because of the playoff race implications and fan base support of the other teams. Marlins still get their $$ With the Rev Sharing agreement.
    Heres a question – Would Loria stand to make more money by having nobody attend his games and the team go 0-162?

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  28. brad says:

    Also worth adding that the difference between this and the Red Sox trade is that while the results next year might not be that different, tho the Sox have upside the new Marlins roster lacks, there’s every reason to believe that nearly every dollar the Sox saved will end up back out there on the field in some way. There’s no reason to believe a single cent saved in Miami will end up anywhere besides Loria’s pockets.

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    • Patrick G says:

      Plus, the Red Sox trade wasn’t part of some pattern. The Marlins have a perception (real or perceived, at this point it doesn’t matter) of signing free agents in bad faith. They pulled this exact same stunt when they signed Carlos Delgado to a back-loaded deal. The Marlins have had a long history of fire-sales that seem designed to lower costs at the most self-serving moments.

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  29. Albert Lang says:

    I dont understand how an organization can be well run if it hires a manager and signs three players only to fire the manager and somewhat dump the players less than a year later.

    If you’re point is that a well run baseball team is one that makes money and has a free ride on the public’s dime, then yes the Marlins are great. However, there are a lot of owners that dont act like this — owners that have presided over far more successful teams than the Marlins brass.

    You can say they have the 6th best record since Lauria and won a championship. However that was in year 2 and it was the teams’ only championship and play-off appearance. At best they have been mediocre. A well run baseball team is not one that banks the most coin, has a free stadium ride and has a decent record. It’s just not.

    I appreciate your viewpoint, but I think unless you address the failures, manager turnover and other issues, especially since 2003, you cant say the organization is well run.

    An all or nothing approach is all well and good, but the team hasnt been in a position for the championship in a looooong time. They are also the laughing stock…

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  30. Patrick G says:

    Major League Baseball is not just a business — it’s a federally protected monopoly that allows collusion. Why? Because the government has decided that a stable, organized, game is more in the public interest than a dynamic, free-market game would be. I take that to mean that profit is not and should not be the driving factor in running an MLB team. Should an owner be forced to take a loss? No, but I consider it in bad taste to treat a team like an ATM when you’re immune from anti-trust prosecution.

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  31. Antonio bananas says:

    I wouldn’t say the marlins are swell run company. They are profitable. Thats one aspect. I am more of a balanced scorecard guy. They rarely make the playoffs and haven’t won a ring in almost 10 years. So as far as quality, that’s pretty low. Basically, chevy. At one point they were awesome, not so much now.

    Profitability, artificially good (rev sharing).

    Customer satisfaction? Awful, maybe the worst in their industry.

    Internal processes? I suppose this is good, they have winning seasons through developing drafted and traded young guys.

    Essentially, the marlins are like a highly profitable company that makes a mediocre product and uses sweat shops and screws over suppliers and workers.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Phrozen says:

      Not winning a ring in “almost 10 years” is hardly a sign of low quality.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Antonio bananas says:

        Not making the playoffs. It’s not high quality. Mediocre? They were not once one of the best in their industry over that time. I don’t care that they won e crapshoot the one year, 10 years ago that they were. Over the
        Last 9 years they haven’t been better than mediocre in quality, have had horrible customer satisfaction, and are hated by peers and industry analysts. It’s literally only top executive pay and profit where they are good and that’s only through welfare. That is not a well run company unless you’re a utilitarian, which in America in 2012 after Citi Group and Enron, you shouldn’t be.

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  32. miffleball says:

    just waiting for the yankees, red sox, dodgers, angels and whoever else pays real money into the revenue sharing to refuse to pay until loria is out. gotta happen one of these days. it’s one thing to pay to make baseball better. it’s another to tip loria for developing players efficiently

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  33. chuckb says:

    I don’t agree with you at all on this, Eno, but I think you did a great job presenting the other side of the argument. I don’t know if you really buy it either or if you’re just playing Devil’s Advocate but it’s really done well. And this side needed to be presented.

    That said, you really can’t compare the Astros trading off their scrubs to the Marlin’s trading all but one of their best (and much better) players. It’s nowhere near the same situation. This is a team who could have, with a couple good acquisitions and a little luck, been next year’s A’s or O’s. The Astros were baseball’s worst organization in many years. It’s not the same thing.

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  34. Good Old JR says:

    It was a great baseball move since they weren’t going to contend this year, even if they added Greinke and Hamilton. If you can get someone to take those backloaded contracts that is a good thing. The Mets analogy is perfect, the Mets are actually at a disadvantage because there would be such outrage if they ever made a move like this (even if it got them closer to a championship in the big picture).

    Having the public finance a stadium to pad a millionaire’s pocket is disgusting, but it’s really a completely seperate issue. It would still be disgusting if they had won the World Series last year.

    Same with the revenue sharing, if you don’t want the Marlins to use the system to increase profts, change that system. It’s also a completely seperate issue. Dumping those contracts got them closer to contending whether they are receiving baseball welfare or not.

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  35. Jay Stevens says:

    It’s a well run company, but a terrible baseball franchise. You overplay the Marlins’ success. They’ve had only 6 winning seasons in 20 years, and never finished first. Their WS wins have little to do with baseball operations, as we know here that success in playoffs has a lot to do with luck. Their product stinks.

    But then, Loria and the Marlins are only “successful” if you measure success in terms of profit. Which is a pretty terrible way of measuring value or greatness.

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    • Antonio bananas says:

      Not even a well run company though. Simply making a profit isn’t all there is. I don’t see this as a sustainable model. Most of the profit is from cheating the system. Employees and fans aren’t happy. Their peers aren’t happy. Industry analysts aren’t happy. The product quality sucks. How is that a well run company? Saying “a profitable company is a good company” is the same narrow logic that people use when saying Cabrera was better than Trout.

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  36. Antonio bananas says:

    What if they required teams to publicly show their financial statements if they accept shared revenue and/or have a stadium that was more than 50% publicly funded?

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  37. Tiger Mountain says:

    Good to see a Mets fan, a fan of the worst-run organization in MLB, stick up for Miami. They’ll win their third WS before the Mets even sniff the postseason. The Wilpons make Loria seem like a genius.

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  38. Devil's Advocate says:

    I agree with Eno. The definition of a successful team is just about making maximum cash, and has nothing to do with trying to win baseball games.

    The public is a bunch of suckers, and if Mr. Loria can trick them into gifting him a half-billion dollars worth of stadium, more power to him!

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  39. Anthony says:

    I am an actual Marlins fan, and one who normally defends the organization because of many of the points made above. From a baseball perspective, I don’t really mind this trade that much. No sense in paying $120M for a 69 win team.

    However, this article assumes there is no such thing as ethics or morality in baseball nor the business world. And while those things, unfortunately, may not be priorities for any business organization, it doesn’t mean we should stop asking for them.

    I was a season ticket holder last year, but will not be renewing after hearing David Sampson praising Jeff Loria for keeping the team here and creating the stadium, as if we should be thankful for his great charitable works. It was extremely condescending, and immediately sealed my decision.

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  40. Cidron says:

    If you are a Marlins fan, aside from Stanton, who’s jersey do you buy?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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