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In baseball, as in any sport, it's important to have a distinct organizational philosophy that defines how the franchise builds a winning team.
For the Miami Marlins, the idea has always been to develop young talent from within and either keep those players from hitting the open market for as long as possible, or trade them for more young talent once they become unaffordable (think Miguel Cabrera/ Dontrelle Willis).
Although this strategy may not always be popular with the fans, it has been successful in helping the organization win two World Series Championships since its inception in 1993.
However, this offseason Miami deviated from their grass-roots philosophy.
After flirtatious escapades with high profile free agents in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the Miami Marlins opened up the checkbook and added free agents Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and traded for Carlos Zambrano. These additions brought the teams expenditures from the 24th highest payroll ($56.527 million) in baseball to the sixth highest ($124.98 million) over the span of just one offseason.
To make a long story short, the Marlins are among the biggest disappointments in baseball this year. At the July 31st trade deadline, the team was a dismal 47-56, while sitting twelve games out of the Wild Card hunt. This caused general manager Michael Hill to sell off the farm, and trade 3B Hanley Ramirez and 2B Omar Infante, among others.
The problem with the Marlins decision to sell at the deadline is that they did not give their offseason investments a chance to fulfill their full potential. Granted, at the trade deadline, the outlook was bleak and there seemed to be no end in sight.
In particular, Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante, and Jose Reyes had the ability to transform into one of the most dynamic infields in all of baseball. With Ramirez currently on the Los Angeles Dodgers and Infante on the Detroit Tigers, those aspirations are gone.
With that, the team is now in flux. Although Miami received some elite prospects in their trade deadline acquisitions, they still owe a combined $150 million to Reyes, Bell, and Buehrle in virtually untradable money. So even if their new prospects turn out to be good players, the team is going to be extremely cash strapped for the foreseeable future, which will make it nearly impossible to supplement their roster with any free agents.
In short, by trading key assets in Hanley Ramirez and Omar Infante, the Miami Marlins not only set their organization back several years, but they ruined what could have been one of the most talented infields in the MLB.