Florida Marlins: 5 People the Marlins Must Drop in Order to Succeed in 2012
With a young team, a pair of superstars and a new stadium set to open in 2012, the Florida Marlins are poised to begin a new chapter in their short but illustrious history.
While the 2011 season was set to be a year full of promise, the young Marlins could not live up to the weight of their own early season expectations and squandered the chance to be in the Wildcard chase with a historically bad month of June.
In retrospect, it's obvious that while the team has some legitimately talented pieces in Gaby Sanchez, Mike Stanton, Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez to build around, with top prospect Matt Dominguez on the way, there's still quite a few holes the franchise needs to plug before taking the next step.
Here's a few folks who should probably be thrown overboard if the Miami faithful wants to see their boys bring home a third World Series title.
5. Jack McKeon
Contrary to popular belief, Trader Jack—perhaps the MLB's poster boy for senile dementia—is not the reason why the 2003 Marlins came back from being 10 games below .500 in May of that year to win the World Series.
McKeon, best known for falling asleep during games, smoking his cigars and forgetting the names of of players, became a media darling throughout the season, probably because he accomplished the remarkable feat of not losing his bout with Father Time in mid-season.
Meanwhile, on the diamond, the 2003 Fish rode one of the best defensive infields in recent memory, a vastly underrated pitching staff bolstered by the season-long absence of A.J. Burnett and the electrifying arrivals of that season's NL Rookie of The Year Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera to baseball immortality.
Now, anyone can make the argument that they were obviously underachieving with Jeff Torborg at the helm early in the year, but it's probably more likely that they would have turned it around regardless of who was managing. In fact, McKeon's teams in 2004 and 2005, while loaded with the same amount of talent, could barely even sniff the postseason (let alone a pair of winning records) again.
Eight seasons later, though, owner Jeffrey Loria could not let go of his misguided nostalgia and brought Jack McKeon back to the dugout just in time to celebrate his bicentennial. I suppose he thought he could hoodwink fans into believing in fate once again with a somewhat, albeit less talented, similar team caught in a similar, though more perilous, situation.
The results? Last place in the NL East.
McKeon's managerial career was finished in the 1990s. There's no reason for him to remain at the helm past 2011.
4. Leo Nunez
When the Florida Marlins turned Mike Jacobs and his free-flowing stream of weak double plays into a few seasons of his services before the 2009 season, Nunez immediately became a South Florida fan favorite.
As of 2011, however, he has morphed into a nightly curse just waiting to be summoned, with a 4.03 ERA and six blown saves on the season.
Thankfully, though, the Marlins front office placed him on the restricted list for the season when news of his identity thieving ways reached the light of day on September 22.
The soon-to-be Miami Marlins would be wise to swap Oviedo to a Dominican Republic Penal League for cash considerations and a tax evader to be named later before the wretched closer steals somebody's credit card.
3. Burke Badenhop
Oh, Burke Badenhop, you poor, poor soul. There's nothing you could have ever done to win the hearts of Marlins fans.
I'll always look back to the 2007 offseason and dream of how your roster spot could have belonged to Matt Kemp or Howie Kendrick or Gio Gonzalez or even Clayton Kershaw, rather than, well, you.
So many teams wanted Miguel Cabrera when the Marlins began to listen to offers for the superstar third baseman four years ago. So many teams wanted him so badly that front offices in L.A. and Chicago began to offer all kinds of young, up-and-coming players gifted with ridiculous potential.
Yet, when push came to shove, the Marlins brass decided to send Miggy (along with what remained of the derailed D-Train) off to Detroit for a package that included then-prospects Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, Eulogio de la Cruz, Dallas Trahern and the man of the hour, Mr. Badenhop. At the time, sure, it made some kind of sense, I suppose, as the front office was trying to get the deal wrapped up as soon as possible. Although many felt the team had passed up on a few much better offers.
As the aftermath of this trade goes to show, "hindsight is always 20/20," or perhaps "slow and steady wins the race"—particularly when the end result sets the team back five years.
Miguel Cabrera is now battling for MVP candidacy in Detroit with his teammate Justin Verlander while leading the Tigers to the AL Central crown. Meanwhile, in Florida, Miller and Maybin both flopped badly, ran out of time to blossom and were sent packing to Boston and San Diego respectively this past offseason.
It's the most lopsided, self-destructive trade in franchise history, and all that remains is Badenhop. The Marlins would be wise to let him go this offseason and leave those ghosts behind in Wayne "Satan" Huizenga's backyard.
Sorry Hopper, you're just not worth the nightmares.
2. Jeffrey Loria
I know it's much harder to ditch an owner than it is to rid a team of, say, a pair of borderline worthless relief pitchers, but Loria is putting more than just the Marlins' future at stake; he's slowly but surely sinking the entire city of Miami into fiscal oblivion with his selfish antics.
Perhaps folks like him are the reason why bounty hunter lore is so firmly entrenched in the American imagination.
This is the graceless buffoon who fired Joe Girardi in the 2006 offseason because Joe had dared do his job that past summer rather than listen to a sensitive, elitist art collector for opinions on baseball. This, of course, came on the heels of one of the greatest managerial miracles of all time, in which Girardi inherited a minor league-quality, post-firesale shell of a ballclub and steered it into the thick of a Wildcard race well into August.
Not to be outdone by himself, it was revealed in 2010 that Loria and his clowns, including son-in-law/high functioning idiot David Samson, were pocketing profits as high as $50 million annually while claiming to "barely break even" in order to swindle the city of Miami into footing most of the bill for their new stadium.
Yes, Loria makes more money than the New York Mets but pays for a fraction of their talent. My best guess is that the man needs all those extra bones to complete his collection of "18th century proto-psychedelic Mona Lisa recreations" for the guest bathroom in his batcave.
So, Miami natives, sometime in 2017 when you find yourselves wondering why local gas prices have skyrocketed to "first-born child per gallon" and government officials are confiscating everything your family owns, look no further than the man irresponsibly cementing your favorite baseball team into last place for someone to blame.
If there exists a God out there somewhere, Leo Nunez will take this criminal—and all his "art"—with him to prison sometime in the foreseeable future.
The few remaining baseball fans in Quebec would second this notion, considering that—thanks in no small part to the work of Loria—they now have to drive all the way down to Washington D.C. to watch their team play its home games.
1. The Person Responsible for This Logo
Whoever thought this pathetic excuse for a team logo was a proud representation of a Major League franchise needs to take some time off and double check their standards. Preferably while working in an entirely different field.
If you gave a six-year-old five minutes on Microsoft Paint, they could design something more presentable—let alone worthy of respect—than this.
Mike Stanton could break the single season home run record twice in a year while Josh Johnson wins 35 games and nobody in the league would take the Fish seriously in these colors. This design looks like the early stages of a team-wide promotion for Hallucinogenic Drug Abuse Day at the ballpark.
The disorganized splashes of orange and blue seem like a nod to those legions of 30,000+ empty seats that loyally attended every game throughout the Florida Marlins' time at Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphin/LandShark/Sun Life Stadium. The design (because I have no idea how else to describe that abomination) wrapping around the generic M looks less like a giant menacing marlin and more like a two ounce needlefish. The yellow seems to stand for...well, it doesn't really stand for anything.
The M is bush-league, uninspired trash.
Speaking of trash, that's where this design belongs.
If the 2012 Miami Marlins plan on selling any team merchandise, they need to pay attention to their customers (hint: read the comments) and realize that teal and black, along with the anatomically correct logo they currently have, are what's popular with the fans.
There's no need to fix something that isn't broken. Especially not when it's going to be mutilated in the process.