Miami Marlins are back to their old ways after latest “fire sale”


BY STAYSON ISOBE, Couchsideshow.com blogger

After playing just one season with the Miami Marlins, shortstop Jose Reyes was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by: Paul Hadsall / Flickr

A year and two days ago, the team formerly known as the Florida Marlins officially began the rebranding of itself by formally changing its name to the Miami Marlins. Out were the old colors of teal, silver and white and in came flashy new uniforms doused in orange with yellow and blue. They left their digs at Sun Life Stadium or as I knew it, Pro Player Stadium, to the Dolphins and they moved into the new Marlins Park, equipped with an aquarium, nightclub and an interesting home run sculpture in left center.

The rebranded Miami Marlins were supposed to be more conducive to the South Beach lifestyle and the hope was they could finally establish themselves as a bonafide Major League Baseball team.

The fact that they still needed to establish themselves as a bonafide professional baseball franchise is a problem in itself. There’s no reason that a franchise that has won two World Series titles in the last 16 years should even be in this situation. The Marlins’ two championships are only rivaled by the Red Sox, Cardinals and Giants – each of whom have won two titles each in the same span – and the Yankees, who have won four. And nobody is questioning the legitimacy of those four franchises.

Ok maybe the Red Sox at the moment, but they have Bobby V to blame.

Yet despite the championship success, let’s just say the Marlins weren’t a star attraction. Prior to moving to Marlins Park, the previous Florida Marlins ranked dead-last among all National League teams in home attendance every year from 2006-2011. Even in 2003, the year they won their most recent World Series title, they were 15th out of 16 NL teams.

Hence, all of this led to the rebranding – the Miami Marlins era. Along with the new stadium, the frugal ownership made a splash at the Winter Meetings just week after they unveiled their new home. In came Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle and Heath Bell all for a total price tag of $193 million. Reyes received the longest and most lucrative contract in franchise history. Ozzie Guillen was brought in to manage a ball club with high expectations all of a sudden.

Well, the high expectations went out the window in a hurry as the team crashed before it could even move forward. Five games into the season, Guillen was suspended by the team for his Fidel Castro comments. Safe to say, he lost the entire city and fan base at that moment. By August, the team traded away its former poster child, Hanley Ramirez. Then Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez were shipped away. And that was just in season.

The Marlins ended the regular season at 69-93, three games worst than 2011 and the fourth-worst season record in the franchise’s history. On October 20, a mere 17 days after the conclusion of the season, Bell was sent to Arizona effectively ending his Marlin tenure after one dismal year. Guillen was fired three days later despite having three years remaining on his contract. Then came the bombshell yesterday that anointed the Marlins as the class of the joke franchises in all of professional sports.

Reyes and Buerhle along with ace Josh Johnson, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio were gone in a heartbeat, traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar and prospects. Just like that, the Marlins’ three headline signees from a year ago are gone, as is their 2012 Opening Day starting pitcher, catcher and center fielder – all for nothing more than a middle-of-the-road shortstop and prospects that may or may not pan out. In all, only two of the Marlins’ Opening Day starters from seven months ago remain and 12 of the 25 members of the Opening Day roster have been traded. And the Marlins wonder why no one comes out to the ballpark. Even this year they only ranked 12th in the NL in attendance despite their flashy new stadium and a payroll that was nearly double from a year ago.

The sad thing is the fire sale is more of a trend than an anomaly. After their first World Series title in 1997, the team immediately traded Moises Alou, Bobby Bonilla, Gary Sheffield and Kevin Brown among others. Following their 2003 title, the Marlins dealt Derrek Lee and lost Ivan Rodriguez to free agency. Of course there’s also the fact that they traded away Miguel Cabrera (and Dontrelle Willis) for a bag of nothing in 2007. To be fair they did receive six players including Cameron Maybin, but none are still Marlins, and Miggy became baseball’s first Triple Crown winner in 45 years this season.

All this latest fire sale shows is that despite the posturing the Miami Marlins displayed a year ago, they are nothing more than the old Florida Marlins were and at least the previous two fire sales came after the team brought its minimal fans a title. Bottom line, a new stadium and new uniforms cannot disguise what this franchise really is – a joke.

Any remaining fans of this disgrace of a team can hang their hats on one of the young sluggers in the game in Giancarlo Stanton. That is if he’s not pissed enough at the team to demand out. Of course, chances that he gets shipped out on a silver platter before all is said and done have to be great, right?

Beyond Stanton, the Marlins can at least rest knowing that their Clevelander bar/nightclub has a  3.5 rating on Yelp. Now how much can they turn the Clevelander around for?

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