Marlins fans have always suffered; it is the reality of being the fan of a small-market team. Major League Baseball is a highly unequal enterprise where four or five teams (Sawx, Yanks, Cubs, Mets etc.) dominate the competition for free agents and thus have the best chance to win—a nine-figure payroll makes it easier to win.
With highly limited resources, this brings us to general manager Larry Beinfest and the Marlins front office. The Marlins organization is committed to the future, not the present. That is how one builds a championship contender—by looking far into the future and knowing how to scout and find talent wherever it is available.
So how did the Fish go about getting their best thee players, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, and Dan Uggla? It's a testament to the prowess of this front office, how so many good players could be acquired by such different means.
Ramirez was a star prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization. The Marlins had Josh Beckett, who was to be a free agent and the Red Sox needed a proven playoff starter. So the wheels went a spinnin' in the heads of Beinfest and his team. The Fish traded Beckett and in return, received an all-century kind of player. A deal as far as I'm concerned.
Josh Johnson's story is not as interesting. He was chosen by the Florida Marlins in the MLB draft. The draft is a great way to find talent, as boring and obvious as it might seem. A farm system is the key to a team and most of it is built through the draft.
During spring training in 2006, after the 2005 fire sale, the Marlins desperately needed a second baseman. Uggla came out of nowhere as a Rule 5 draft pick from the Arizona Diamondback and made the team. He has since been one of the best power hitters in the game, and a surprisingly good defensive second baseman.
The Marlins have a habit of going in cycles with their players, depending on how much their salaries will be, but this tenacity pays off as the 2009 season has proved so far.
Players taken from many different places come together to win an NL East title, knock on wood.