Miami Marlins Fire Sale: Do the Marlins Deserve the Criticism?

Jim FolsomContributorNovember 14, 2012

Jose Reyes had decent numbers,but not by his standards
Jose Reyes had decent numbers,but not by his standardsMarc Serota/Getty Images

Today, baseballs fans and pundits are ripping the Miami Marlins for duping the Florida taxpayers into building them a new stadium at the site of the old Orange Bowl, signing a bunch of high-priced free agents, and then bailing on the whole thing and holding a fire sale.

I understand how this looks like a sinister plot to get a new ballpark to raise the value of the franchise for an eventual sale.

I get it.

But, let's look at some other facts.

The Marlins played for 20 years in a football stadium in front of "crowds" that would have a tough time filling one of the many spring training facilities in South Florida. Miami is hot, sticky and rainy, —not really a nice place to watch outdoor baseball.

Still, the Marlins in that time brought home not one, but TWO World Series Championships.

In their first run at the title in 1997, they lost a ton of money while paying superstar players, such as Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Moises Alou, Al Leiter, Mike Lowell and others. They won a World Championship, then dumped everyone for prospects.

One of those prospects they picked up in that fire sale was Hanley Ramirez, and it freed up spots for young players such as Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera and others to get playing time.

Six years later guess what? They won another World Series.

So we aren't talking about the Tampa Bay Rays, the Kansas City Royals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, or the Houston Astros here. Don't you think the Chicago Cubs would gladly trade their last two decades results for the Marlins?

Yes, the Marlins stink most years. Yes, the fire sales get a bit old if you're a Marlins fan. But, let's count how many other teams have not celebrated a World Series Championship since the FIRST Marlins championship.

1. New York Mets:  This team spends a TON on free agents almost every year. Their last World Series? 1986.

2. Atlanta Braves: Last World Championship? 1995

3. Los Angeles Dodgers: No World Series championships since 1988. Look at how much their payroll is.

4. Detroit Tigers: They have high priced free agents all over the roster. It's netted them two AL pennants since the last Marlins world championship, but their last world championship was 1984.

5. Chicago Cubs: 1908 and counting

6. Texas Rangers: Still don't have one

Here are some franchises who have won ONE World Series since the Marlins first one in 1997, which ties them with the Marlins, who also have won a World Series since then...

7. Los Angeles Angels: Humongous payroll, still missed the playoffs this year

8. Arizona Diamondbacks: Not really huge spenders, not above an occasional salary dump, but somehow don't catch the criticism the Marlins get for it.

9. Chicago White Sox: Big market, big payroll, still miss the playoffs more often than not

10. Philadelphia Phillies: Huge market, huge payroll, one World Series championship

So unless you are the New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox or St.Louis Cardinals, your team has NOTHING on the Miami Marlins as far as winning World Series championships.

So the Marlins dumped a bunch of "star players."

So what? What place did the Marlins come in WITH all those guys?

They came in dead last. You can come in dead last a whole lot cheaper than what the Marlins spent last year. Coming in last is not hard. Anybody can come in last. You don't have to spend money to come in last.

So the Marlins will come in last again next season.

At least they'll be doing it with young players that might get better with experience. Is Mark Buerhle, Heath Bell, Jose Reyes or Josh Johnson going to get better than they are already?

No. Many of the "experts" ripping the trade already admit that they got the Toronto Blue Jays top prospects in the deal.

So what were the Marlins supposed to do? Stand pat with a team that already stinks? What was Albert Einstein's definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

The Marlins had a huge "fire sale" in 1998. Five years later they were World Series champs. So were they smart then?

After that world title they had another salary dump. They parlayed that world title into a new downtown ballpark. So now they are having another fire sale. If history teaches us anything—it is that when they dump salaries and start over something good usually comes of it.

So, how about we give it a few years before we pass judgment on whether or not this was the right thing to do.


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