Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria could already be hard at work for the 2014 offseason, or he could be sharing his offseason plans with a certain writer.
There's less than three weeks left in the 2013 regular season, but it's never too late for the Miami Marlins to prepare for the offseason.
After all, the Marlins probably had an idea before the season started that the playoffs were probably not in the cards.
In fact, they should be used to this script by now, especially since they are headed toward their third consecutive last-place finish in the National League East. Moreover, the closest the Marlins have been to a playoff spot through September 12 in the last seven years was in 2009 when they were five games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the division lead and 5.5 games back of the Colorado Rockies in the wild-card race.
So, what will the Marlins do this offseason?
With owner Jeffrey Loria calling the shots, anything can happen. Keep in mind, this is the franchise that has given us the following since 2005:
- In 2005, the Marlins traded away Josh Beckett, Luis Castillo, Carlos Delgado, Paul Lo Duca, Mike Lowell, Guillermo Mota and Juan Pierre in five separate deals and let A.J. Burnett, Jeff Conine, Juan Encarnacion, Alex Gonzalez and Todd Jones go via free agency.
"I'm glad I'm not down there any more. Fire sales are always tough," Burnett told the Associated Press after agreeing to a five-year, $55 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. "They'd better teach Dontrelle how to play all nine positions."
- In 2006, the Marlins fired Joe Girardi. All Girardi did was win 78 games, keep the Marlins in playoff contention (they were two games back of the San Diego Padres as of September 12) and win National League Manager of the Year.
- In 2007, the Marlins traded Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers. Cabrera was the 2012 American League Most Valuable Player after becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
- In 2011, the Marlins hired Ozzie Guillen as manager and signed Heath Bell, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle to long-term deals in anticipation of the grand opening of their brand new ballpark. Well, we know how that turned out because...
- In 2012, the Marlins fired Guillen and hired Mike Redmond to be the new manager. Furthermore, the Marlins dumped Bell to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade, and later, the Marlins dismantled what's left of the roster when they shipped Reyes, Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio for seven players, none of whom has a big-money contract, to the Toronto Blue Jays in a 12-player fire sale trade.
Although there's still baseball left to be played, here are four early predictions as to what the Marlins will or won't do this offseason.
Is Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, right, telling his ex-wife's son, team president David Samson, he's getting fired? Only Loria knows.
Marlins president David Samson hasn't been heard from in a while, and he's nowhere to be found.
It's almost like playing a game of Where's Waldo?
Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan reported last month Samson has been noticeably absent for a period in the middle of the year, and sources around the team wondered where Samson has gone, which is still a question that has gone unanswered. However, Passan's sources said Loria no longer considers Samson, his ex-wife's son, an untouchable in a planned overhaul of the organization.
Earlier in the year, the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reported Loria forbade Samson from doing his radio show and also told Samson he could no longer do interviews. Jackson argued Loria's decision was short-sighted because Samson was more accountable and accessible than many team presidents, even amid unpopular decisions made solely by Loria.
Remember, Samson was instrumental in getting Marlins Park built as he was Loria's right-hand man. In fact, about a month before the stadium opened, Samson opened his big mouth and let out his true feelings before a group of Miami business leaders.
"I don't have to hold back now that the stadium is built—not that I ever have," Samson said while addressing Miami's Beacon Council, according to Miami Today, via the Miami New Times. "We're not the smartest people in Miami. If you're in this room, you're instantly in the top 1 percent."
Within the same article, Samson also said local politicians are "not the intellectual cream of the crop" and discussed what happened during negotiations to move the Marlins to San Antonio or Las Vegas when the stadium deal had stalled. He said he took a meeting with Las Vegas's former mayor Oscar Goodman in a room with four showgirls and suggested the casinos would buy out all of the team's tickets to ensure no one left the strip to catch a baseball game.
Now the reason why Samson's absence matters is because when Loria almost fired president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest last season, Loria went on record with the Miami Herald to deny the published report.
In this case, it's been nearly three weeks since Passan's published report and yet, there hasn't been any word from Samson or the whereabouts of his status.
Sometimes, silence speaks louder than words.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, left, and manager Mike Redmond should retain their jobs for the 2014 season.
Speaking of Beinfest, he shouldn't have to worry about looking for a job next year.
After all, the season hasn't been the total disaster most pundits predicted. The emergence of starting pitcher Jose Fernandez (12-6, 2.19 ERA, 187 K in 172.2 IP, 6.3 WAR) as a National League Rookie of the Year candidate and the continued progress of outfielder Christian Yelich (.290/.368/.398, 3 HR, 13 RBI in 186 AB) have given the Marlins a solid foundation to build upon.
Throw in Jacob Turner, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez as three 23-and-younger hurlers behind Fernandez, a bullpen that features five players with more than 59 appearances and an ERA below 3.45 and youngsters such as Adeiny Hechavarria and Marcell Ozuna coming on to the scene, and the Marlins have a bright future.
Furthermore, Redmond hasn't angered Loria either, which should bode well for his and Beinfest's job security.
For instance, when Loria personally mandated the flip-flopping of Fernandez and former Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco in a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins in April, it left Marlins players furious with Loria's continued meddling, three sources with knowledge of the situation told Passan.
Loria insisted Fernandez pitch in the first half of the doubleheader at frigid Target Field instead of the scheduled Nolasco because the day game was expected to be warmer. Redmond delivered the news to Nolasco about two-and-a-half hours before the first game, and it did not go over well with Nolasco or his teammates. Standard protocol for doubleheaders is veterans choose which game they want to pitch. Loria ignored that and sabotaged Redmond less than 20 games into his managerial career.
"[Redmond] was embarrassed," one source told Passan, who nonetheless claimed publicly the decision was an organizational choice. "He tried to fight it. He had nothing to do with it."
But by kowtowing to the owner's demands, Redmond keeps his job, as does Beinfest since he was the one who hired him. This is important since Loria and Samson never showed up to the press conference announcing Redmond's hire, whereas the year before, it was Loria, Samson, Beinfest and Guillen in the photo op.
As the Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde said at the time of Redmond's hiring, Beinfest has been "given the keys to the franchise again."
It was the home run that sent every talking head to the nearest keyboard, microphone and television camera.
Fernandez's home run in his final start of the season Wednesday ignited a bench-clearing confrontation between the Marlins and the Atlanta Braves.
According to the Associated Press, Fernandez became agitated in the sixth inning when Evan Gattis homered off him. Fernandez reacted with a cocky grin and the Braves let him know they didn't appreciate his expression. Fernandez stared at the Atlanta bench muttering as he walked off the mound to end the inning, then waved his arms in agitation in the dugout.
When Fernandez homered later, he stood admiring the hit before slowly starting his trot. He spat as he rounded third base as third baseman Chris Johnson said something to him. As Fernandez crossed home plate, he traded words with catcher Brian McCann. Then, umpire Sam Holbrook stepped between them and other players quickly joined the dispute. Fernandez laughed as he was pulled away by teammates, and the crowd of 25,111 roared.
After the game, though, Fernandez was apologetic after he drew the ire of Redmond and his teammates.
“I feel embarrassed; I feel like I don’t deserve to be here,” Fernandez told the Palm Beach Post. “I embarrassed my teammates. I embarrassed my coaching staff. I embarrassed a lot of people. I had a good year and for it to end like this on a day like today [Sept. 11], that is really important to all American people, it’s something I’m sorry for.”
Now, one's point of view depends on whom you ask. MLB.com's Richard Justice basically called it a "live and learn" moment, but USA Today's Ted Berg said Fernandez should be allowed to take all the time he wants admiring his first major league homer, because Fernandez is awesome and so are home runs.
Meanwhile, Redmond told MLB.com it "will never happen again" and a day later stood by his stance and sided with the Braves.
"Jose is an emotional guy," Redmond told the Associated Press. "That's part of his game that is going to improve. We don't want to take the 'having fun' aspect away from him. That's what makes him him. But at the same time, I think maybe he can center that a little bit. ... That might be a part of his game he needs to look at, and maybe try to do something different."
The good news is not only was Fernandez contrite, he listened to his manager and his teammates. However, none of Fernandez's teammates are older than 30 years old, have the cachet of being an All-Star, have the ability to say "been there and done that" and, most importantly, is or was a starting pitcher, because then he would know what it's like to be in Fernandez's shoes.
In other words, Fernandez needs a mentor. The same could probably apply to Turner, Eovaldi and Alvarez. And seeing how Tom Koehler (3-10, 4.80 ERA) has been uninspiring at best as the No. 5 starter, it behooves Beinfest to find a veteran, preferably a left-hander since the rotation lacks one.
Here is a list of players expected to be free agents after the season. Judging by this list, Chris Capuano, Scott Kazmir, Jon Lester, Andy Pettitte, Joe Saunders and Barry Zito fit the mold.
Now, it would all come down to Loria coming up with the money and one of those players wanting to play for the Marlins. Believe it or not, the Marlins signed left-hander Al Leiter to a one-year, $8 million contract when they were in a similar situation once upon a time.
Then again, that was nine years ago, a time when Loria hadn't completely sullied his reputation.
Giancarlo Stanton has a lot to think about when it comes to his future with the Miami Marlins.
While the developments of Samson's possible departure, the job securities of Beinfest and Redmond and/or the Marlins signing a veteran starting pitcher are important, no situation bears watching more than the status of Giancarlo Stanton.
As we already know, the Marlins kept Stanton and has resisted the urge to trade him during the season. The plan, as outlined by MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, is to discuss a multi-year deal with him after the season.
That said, there are still teams still interested in Stanton. As Jim Salisbury of csnphilly.com reports, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said he has tried to trade for Stanton at least 10 times, and Amaro even pretended to read a text message from his cell phone where “[Beinfest] says, ‘I’m not trading him.’“
Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers have asked the Marlins about Stanton every week, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, but they were declined at every turn. Ditto for the Pittsburgh Pirates, depending on whom you believe.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Biertempfel reported the Pittsburgh Pirates made repeated attempts to work a deal for Stanton and, according to another source, made an offer that caught the attention of Miami's front office. However, the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer refuted this claim. Another report, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, claimed the Pirates offered Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte, Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie for Stanton, Steve Cishek and Justin Ruggiano. However, such an offer was never made.
So what if the Marlins offer Stanton a long-term contract, but Stanton declines it. What do the Marlins do then? ESPN.com's Buster Olney said if Stanton doesn’t want to sign, then this winter will be the most logical time to deal the slugger.
That said, the reason why Stanton hasn't been traded in the first place is because Loria is hell-bent on winning in the near future to prove he made the right baseball decisions when he tore apart the roster, as Rosenthal reported.
In that scenario, it's easy to see Stanton staying with the Marlins one way or the other. The Marlins don't have to trade Stanton unless they get a package of equal or greater value that comes with a slugger who is comparable to Stanton. The Marlins also control Stanton for three more years, as long as Loria is willing to pay the man.
If Loria's ego and pride is as big as his meddlesome ways, then the Marlins keeping Stanton in Miami without a long-term deal becomes more than plausible.