Florida Marlins stud shortstop Hanley Ramirez has agreed to a contract extension worth $70 million over six years.
This is fantastic news if you are a fan of the Marlins, or baseball in general, because of what this move might actually mean.
Florida's payroll is the lowest in baseball: a lowly $21 million. There are single players on other teams getting paid more than that this year.
The excuse for the repeated breakups of winning teams from Florida's front office has always been something along the lines of: "We don't have a stadium; we can't pay our players because we don't have the income."
Well, it looks as if a stadium is on its way, and the Marlins are keeping their promise.
Hanley Ramirez won't get away and Florida will not trade him off like the have done with all their other superstars in the past. Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, Brad Penny, and Derrek Lee have all had to be let go in the past few years.
The Marlins simply did not have the cash to keep them all. Frankly, it was even a shock to many to see them hold onto Cabrera for as long as they did.
Their fan support is pretty rotten, too. They play in a stadium that belongs to the Dolphins, and yet they have won more World Series titles in the past 11 or so years than just about every franchise.
They obviously know how to build a team but, because they can't keep it together, they are forced to dismantle every few years.
That is, until now.
This signing of Ramirez signals a change in the organization. You have to tip your hat to them for coming through with their end of the bargain.
They needed a stadium to compete for more than one year, and now they've got it. Ramirez is the reward for giving them a place to play.
Gone are the days of the $21 million payroll. The Florida Marlins are ready to pay up and compete.
The question now becomes: Will the fans support them?
If your franchise player gets locked up for six more years, you should support them.
Then again, the state of Florida isn't really baseball-friendly to begin with. Tampa Bay doesn't have great attendance numbers and even when the Marlins were winning, fans didn't pack the ballpark.
Will a new stadium make a difference? Will the commitment to winning by signing their star player have an effect? More questions abound.
I don't know, but I sure do hope so, for baseball's sake.
I'm not the biggest fan of the team, especially after they ripped my heart out in 1997. But I’m a fan of baseball as a whole and baseball thrives when all their teams are making an effort to be competitive, and not just for one year, either.
The Marlins competing in the long run is good for baseball and it does take a major "under-spender" out of the game. It's not always the over-spenders with deep wallets hurting baseball; the ones who don't spend hurt it as well.
Good for the Hanley Ramirez, great for the Marlins, and fantastic for baseball.
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