Jeffrey Loria's Meddling Ruins Hope for Credibility in Marlins Organization
Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, already a pariah in Major League Baseball circles and with every fan in the state of Florida, is back to his old tricks and undermining everyone and everything within his franchise.
Loria insisted (Jose) Fernandez, the team's prized 20-year-old rookie, pitch in the first half of the doubleheader at frigid Target Field instead of the scheduled (Ricky) Nolasco because the day game was expected to be warmer. The temperature at Fernandez's first pitch (38 degrees) was actually colder than at the beginning of Nolasco's start (42 degrees).
While that doesn't sound all that bad, there is more to the story that Passan notes. Loria actually "mandated" the pitching change, forcing manager Mike Redmond—less than one month into his new job—to break protocol and abandon his planned pitching rotation just a couple hours before the first pitch.
Loria, not surprisingly, is denying that he had any part in switching the starting pitchers for the doubleheader (h/t FoxSports.com).
I had nothing to do with the decision. I was informed of the decision by the baseball department. I told them it was their call.
I don’t make decisions on who to pitch and when, how to go about it—that’s not my role. Sometimes they call me and tell me what they’re doing. But I don’t call them up and say, ‘This is what is going to happen.’ That’s not true.
Even if you don't agree with the tradition that Nolasco should have been able to pick which game he wanted to start, the fact that the ruling is coming down from the owner instead of being left up to the manager is just another sign that Loria has no respect for the people who work for him.
Redmond is the manager of the Miami Marlins. He should be working with the general manager to make on-field decisions. The owner can give his input because it is his team, but ultimately, player decisions should come down to the manager.
Passan cited sources who told him that Loria even tried to make lineup suggestions for Ozzie Guillen last year, but those went ignored.
Unlike Guillen, who lives in his own world and will do what he wants when he wants, Redmond is still learning the intricacies both of managing in the big leagues and with this franchise. There is no doubt that he wants to be a company man just to keep his boss happy and retain his job.
No one had any expectations for the Marlins entering this season. They have shipped basically their entire starting lineup from last year away, save for Giancarlo Stanton, and are doing nothing to earn any goodwill from people in the city.
That's not the fault of the players or anyone in the front office. It all falls on the shoulders of Loria, who seems to relish being this shrewd businessman at the expense of building a quality product.
After spending $409 million in taxpayer money—or more than $2.4 billion after paying off 40 years' worth of bonds (h/t Miami Sun-Sentinel)—Loria tried to win some good faith from the public by spending $191 million to bring in Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell.
The team underachieved with a 69-93 record in 2012, but the attendance did rise by nearly 700,000 to 2.2 million—thanks to the new park and star-level talent on the roster.
Yet Loria, seeing that salaries were going to rise and attendance might drop, decided to sell anyone and everyone with a big contract.
Buehrle, Reyes, Josh Johnson and John Buck were dealt to Toronto for a decent package of prospects that included outfielder Jake Marisnick, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and left-handed pitcher Justin Nicolino.
Marisnick and Nicolino are solid prospects, but when you are giving up the kind of talent the Marlins did to the Blue Jays, you would expect to acquire at least one star-level player back in return.
The backlash from that trade was loud and vociferous. Scott Miller of CBS Sports wrote that Loria destroyed his team and the city that paid to support his new stadium with the deal.
It was one thing when Loria and his little henchman, David Samson, swaggered into that New York tavern at 12:01 a.m. last November on the first day clubs could negotiate with free agents and made a big show for Jose Reyes.
It is quite another thing when one year later Loria and Co. are shipping Reyes—and everyone else they signed last winter—across international borders in some sort of twisted joke that even the World Trade Organization surely will condemn in coming days.
But the sheer stupidity and idiocy of Loria's tactics doesn't end there. In an effort to try to smooth things over with an outraged city, the Marlins owner did a run of media appearances in February to convince everyone the team had a plan.
Yet even in the midst of a press conference when he was getting grilled about the Marlins being a Triple-A team, Loria couldn't even remember the names of the players on his team (h/t Palm Beach Post).
It’s not a Triple-A ball club. It’s a ball club with some pretty impressive players. I wouldn’t call (Placido) Polanco a Triple-A player. I wouldn’t call the new shortstop a Triple-A player. I wouldn’t call our second baseman a Triple-A player. I certainly wouldn’t call Rob Brantly that.
Bashing Loria has almost gotten to the point where it is so easy there is no reason to do it. He leaves himself open to criticism and vitriol every step of the way.
Yet what we see from his latest actions, in which he put Redmond in a bad situation with one of his players and really had no problem doing it, speaks to just how bad things are with the Miami Marlins franchise.
Will the Miami Marlins ever be successful under Jeffrey Loria's ownership again?
It is impossible for anyone to feel truly comfortable with their job because Loria will always be hovering over, waiting to do what is in the best interest of himself.
Top free agents are not going to come play for this team because they saw what happened to Reyes and Buehrle after signing deals with them last year. Their best young players, like Stanton, are under no obligation to consider taking a long-term contract because they know that once they approach the end of their arbitration years with the team they will be shipped out of town.
You can't even say that the Marlins have still won two championships in 20 years of existence anymore, because the first one came under Wayne Huizenga's ownership—which Loria actually seems to have modeled his regime after—in 1997 before selling all of his best players.
Then in 2003, under Loria's ownership, they were able to catch lightning in a bottle with a roster of young, promising talent that included Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, A.J. Burnett, Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell and Miguel Cabrera.
All of those players were shipped away from the team within four years of winning that championship when they approached free agency or hit salary arbitration.
Players and other front office personnel around the league see what the Marlins are doing and have to be laughing. You can't run any business—sports or otherwise—where there is absolutely no credibility at the top.
Loria, in trying to help himself make more money, has alienated anyone and everyone who helps put cash in his pocket. Fans have long been wanting to see something change with the franchise, and it appeared as if that would happen last year before the great fire sale of 2012.
Players and coaches, especially based on what Passan's report says, have grown increasingly annoyed by the actions of Loria. The product he has put on the field is substandard, regardless of how he tries to spin it.
Hopefully one day the Marlins can get out from under this mess, because Miami really does have the potential to be a great baseball town. It just can't find an owner worthy of those people.
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