Jeffery Loria's full-page letter to fans that appeared in the Feb. 24 edition of the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel and Palm Beach Post.
It seems as if the Marlins front office—particularly owner Jeffrey Loria—is a public relations nightmare.
After months of silence since the team's 12-player fire sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, Loria went on a three-day PR rampage (Feb. 24-26) that can only be described as unnecessary—which is putting it nicely—or delusional, which is what many people might call Loria nowadays.
On Day 1 of Loria's attempted makeover, he bought full-page ads in the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel and Palm Beach Post and penned an 805-word "letter to our fans" to explain why the organization has traded many of its high-priced players for a bunch of prospects.
The ad can be seen in the picture above or you can find a copy of the text here and here. The highlight of Loria's letter were in the following passages:
Acquiring high-profile players just didn't work, and nearly everyone on our team underperformed as compared to their career numbers. Our plan for the year ahead is to leverage our young talent and create a homegrown roster of long-term players who can win. In fact, objective experts have credited us with going from the 28th ranked Minor League system in baseball to the 5th best during this period. Of the Top 100 Minor Leaguers rated by MLB Network, we have six—tied for the most of any team in the league.
To tell you the truth, Loria is right. There was no point for the Marlins to keep Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Gaby Sanchez, Anibal Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez if the club continued to languish in the cellar.
However, the fifth-best minor league system DOES NOT guarantee future success because prospects are far from a sure thing. There's a reason why the Pittsburgh Pirates have not had a winning season for 20 consecutive years. The Pirates continually hit the reset button on the rebuilding process until recently, when Andrew McCutchen emerged as a franchise player.
The Marlins might have those franchise players now in Fernandez and Yelich, but a championship squad cannot be built on prospects alone. Take the Washington Nationals, for instance. The Nationals have Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper—all homegrown players—but the squad also employs Jayson Werth, Gio Gonzalez and Adam LaRoche—three players whom the Nationals acquired via free agency or through trades.
Another example would be the 2003 World Series champion Marlins. It had homegrown players such as Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, Miguel Cabrera and Luis Castillo, but the Marlins also acquired Ugueth Urbina, Juan Pierre, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez and Carl Pavano. In other words, free agency and trades must supplement the farm system.
The majority of public funding came from hotel taxes, the burden of which is incurred by tourists who are visiting our city, NOT the resident taxpayers. The Marlins organization also agreed to contribute $161.2 million toward the ballpark, plus the cost of the garage complex. In addition, the Marlins receive no operating subsidy from local government funding. The ballpark required that all debt service is paid by existing revenue.
Apparently, according to this story, Loria's statement was only half right. Shocking.
On Day 2 of Loria's path of destruction, he met with about a dozen sports writers at Marlins Park. Video cameras were not allowed into the premises, that was reserved for the big finale, but Loria spoke for about 25 minutes on various topics associated with the Marlins. The full transcript can be found here.
What the second day brought was more evidence how much Loria is drinking his own spiked Kool-Aid.
For instance, he said the trade with the Blue Jays was not a fire sale, but rather "hit the restart button." However, that might pale in comparison to the response he gave about the reception he's received from the public:
I will tell you that on Saturday night I was at the food and wine festival. I was approached by maybe 20 or 30 people. All of them congratulated me, said you had to do what you did.
By the way, this was also the interview session where Loria defended himself from Reyes. At the beginning of spring training, Reyes took a parting shot at Loria, which included a claim that said Loria encouraged him to buy a house days before he was traded. Loria, unsurprisingly, denied that.
On Day 3, the final day of Loria's spiel, he addressed all members of the media at the team's spring training headquarters. The full transcript can be found here.
A day after saying he didn't break up the 1927 Yankees, Loria said the Marlins are not a Triple-A ballclub. But they might as well be, given the team the Marlins will be carrying out of spring training.
Some might think after the three-day PR blitz, Loria might find himself out of the public eye for a while. But last week, city officials want the Marlins to pay more than $30,000 in additional monthly rent for using one of the four city-owned garages as storage, according to the Miami Herald.
It just seems no matter what Loria and his staff does, they have emerged as a walking PR nightmare this spring.