Jeffrey Loria is the worst.
The owner of the Miami Marlins has orchestrated another fire sale (via foxsportsflorida.com) of his roster, reportedly jettisoning high-priced starting pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to the Toronto Blue Jays along with catcher John Buck, outfielder Emilio Bonifacio and high-priced superstar shortstop Jose Reyes for what amounts to a sack of baseballs and a few Fungo bats.
Loria duped Marlin fans into believing his team could be a contender as he opened his new stadium last season. After seeing the roster now, why would any of them trust him again? More importantly, why would anyone ever pay one dollar to line his pockets with money after this latest move?
The fans were used by the Marlins ownership. How can anyone support this unbelievable level of deceit?
Things looked so promising last year. After a very public flirtation with Albert Pujols, Marlin fans settled for only getting the likes of Buerhle and Reyes, a clear sign the newly branded Miami franchise had every intention of creating a contender. In September the Marlins announced the hiring of manager Ozzie Guillen. In December, Buehrle was signed to a four-year deal, Reyes was signed for six years and reliever Heath Bell was inked for three.
Less than 12 months later, they are all gone, and Marlins fans are left with a brand new stadium and very little talent to play in it.
Loria couldn’t even give his fans a single year of hope. Heck, he couldn't even give them a single season. The Marlins opened their new stadium last year thanks to millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and as soon as the team fell out of contention, the fire sale started and hasn't stopped.
Miami traded Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante in late July, jettisoned Hanley Ramirez two days later and completed the in-season roster dump by sending Gaby Sanchez out of town just for the heck of it. The Marlins were out of contention at the time of the trades, sure, but these transactions made little sense in the grand scheme of Miami's new plan—unless another shoe was going to drop in the offseason.
All the shoes just dropped.
After seeing Loria unload all his remaining high-priced talent to the Blue Jays, it was clear the moves of Sanchez, Infante and Ramirez were nothing more than the pre-sale before the liquidation. Maybe we should consider this a pre-Black Friday sale. Everything must go!
Fans should have seen this coming (no, really), but a new stadium has invigorated so many baseball towns that it seemed plausible Loria would use the new-found interest in the team to reinvest in the product on the field.
The question Marlins fans should now be asking is whether Loria had planned this all along. Was the fire sale planned all along, using the big-name players as a payoff to getting the stadium built last season with no intention of keeping them? Or was he spooked by the dwindling attendance during the second half of the season and realized the new park and big-ticket superstars would never be a big enough draw in South Florida?
Rather than threaten to move the team to Las Vegas or some other faraway town he could use to leverage that new stadium getting built, Loria may have planned this salary dump all along, cutting payroll and going with another group of young players with something to prove.
This trade almost makes sense when you look at it that way. If the new Marlins Park wasn't going to be filled anyway, the best way for Loria to make a return on his investment would be to lower his payroll by tens of millions of dollars.
What about the return on the taxpayers' investment? What about the fans' investment? It's left to the fans now; they need to stop showing up to send a message that this kind of ownership model is not acceptable.
Marlins fans need to show how fed up they are with being played by an owner to whom they've dedicated their time and money. Fans need to quit on the team completely.
Can there be a bigger statement than a completely empty stadium on Opening Day? Would Loria get the hint that fans are not OK with his model of building a team just to break it down every few years when nobody showed up?
The Marlins averaged just over 27,000 fans last season, filling Loria's new playground to just over 73 percent capacity each game. Wouldn't it be a better statement if none of them ever came back until Loria stopped pulling this nonsense (or sold the team to someone who actually respects the fans)?
Maybe they should all become Blue Jays fans. That seems far more rewarding than rooting for the Miami Marlins now.
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