Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

November 14, 2012

Marlins’ latest payroll purge prompts fan backlash

MIAMI — The attendance-challenged Miami Marlins have antagonized fans yet again by deciding a low-budget team is good enough for their new ballpark.

A blockbuster trade sending three stars to Toronto could save Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria $150 million, which prompted a backlash from South Floridians angered by the team’s latest payroll purge.

“Everybody in the world wants to talk about the Marlins and the fact they’re now a Triple-A team,” said city commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who was an opponent of the ballpark project. “The Marlins have lost pretty much all credibility with fans. Even if this trade is a positive move from a baseball standpoint, it won’t be viewed by the general public as a positive move.”

Miami traded All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, left-hander Mark Buehrle and right-hander Josh Johnson as part of the deal, which awaited final approval Wednesday pending physicals for the players. Among the players the Blue Jays gave up were shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez and several top minor-league prospects.

Many fan complaints involved the ballpark, which was paid for mostly with taxpayer money as Loria promised a new era of higher payrolls and more competitive teams. The ballpark opened this year and is state of the art, but the team suddenly is looking like the same old Marlins.

Loria declined to talk with reporters as he passed through the hotel lobby at the owners meetings in Chicago.

“Not today, boys,” he said. “If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not going to figure it out for you.”

Team president David Samson said the trade improved the Marlins, who have finished last in the NL East each of the past two years. This season they expected to contend for the playoffs with the highest payroll in franchise history but instead went 69-93, their worst record since 1999.

“We sat down after the season and talked about the team and said we cannot keep finishing in last place,” Samson said on his weekly radio show on WINZ-AM. “We found a way to possibly in one fell swoop get a whole lot better. I recognize that the names coming back in a potential trade are not names people are familiar with, but in the baseball world, people are familiar with them.”

When asked about fans feeling betrayed, Samson said, “I think that people should feel betrayed by the fact we’re losing so much, and that they wouldn’t want us to stand pat and keep losing.”

Samson’s description of the roster shakeup as an upgrade failed to mollify fans. Radio talk show host Jeff DeForrest began fielding calls from irate listeners shortly after news of the trade broke Tuesday.

“The next move obviously is to have Fidel Castro throw out the first pitch next year,” DeForrest said. “That’s the only way they could alienate the fans more than they have.”

Castro became a source of acrimony last April, when Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen’s praise of the former Cuban leader infuriated team supporters. That was shortly after the new ballpark opened in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, and attendance never recovered from the tempest.

Management had projected the rebranded team would win and draw nearly 3 million fans, but instead the Marlins were out of contention by midseason, and attendance barely topped 2.2 million.

With revenue falling short of projections, Loria decided to end the franchise’s brief era of big spending. The players traded by the Marlins have combined guaranteed salaries of $163.75 million through 2018, including $96 million due Reyes. The deals he and Buehrle signed when they joined Miami a year ago were heavily backloaded.

Salaries for 2013 include $13.75 million for Johnson in the final year of his contract, $11 million for Buehrle and $10 million for Reyes. The net in guaranteed salaries coming off Marlins’ books is expected to be $154 million, which does not account for any cash that may be involved in trade.

Three years ago, the Marlins reached an agreement with the players’ union to increase spending in the wake of complaints team payroll had been so small as to violate baseball’s revenue sharing provisions. But the trade with Toronto leaves the Marlins with an estimated opening day payroll of $34 million, which would be their lowest since 2008. Oakland had the lowest payroll in the majors last year at $59.5 million.

Of the lineup that took the field for the festive first game in the new ballpark less than eight months ago, only two players remain — Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison.

Stanton tweeted that he was angry about the trade and changed his Twitter photo in an apparent protest, swapping out his Marlins uniform for a black shirt.

“I’m not saying fans can’t be upset,” Morrison tweeted to his 123,000 followers. “I’m saying I’m not going to get upset. I can’t control it. So don’t expect me to be upset.”

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • Stotler’s hit lifts Post 13 to 5-3 win Stotler’s hit lifts Post 13 to 5-3 win

    Brandon Stotler singled home Brady Hillegas to snap a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning and all nine starters hit safely as Fort Cumberland beat Severna Park 5-3 on a chilly opening night at the Maryland American Legion Baseball State Tournament Tuesday at Memorial Field.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • TOM BOSLEY Bosley returning to Southern sideline

    Tom Bosley is back, again, at Southern Garrett High School.
    And so are a few of his friends.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Casselman beats North Side, 9-1

    Connor Christner fired a two-hitter and Lance Leydig had three hits to lead Casselman Valley to a 9-1 victory in the opening game of the Rec League Championship Series Tuesday evening at Frostburg State University.

    July 30, 2014

  • Lynn Lewis scores ace at Maplehurst

    Lynn Lewis hit a hole-in-one on No. 10 at Maplehurst Country Club playing in the Knights of Columbus Golf Tournament on July 25.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sports Calendar - 07/30/2014

    July 30, 2014

  • NASCAR suspends Hamlin crew chief Grubb 6 races NASCAR suspends Hamlin crew chief Grubb 6 races

    NASCAR suspended Denny Hamlin’s crew chief and car chief on Tuesday for six races because the Joe Gibbs Racing entry failed inspection following his third-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules

    The NCAA agreed on Tuesday to help athletes with head injuries in a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit that college sports’ governing body touted as a major step forward but that critics say doesn’t go nearly far enough.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rory McIlroy ready to get back to work Rory McIlroy ready to get back to work

    The claret jug is not out of sight. Rory McIlroy is just trying to get it out of his mind.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Colaw, Keller hits in 11th send Potomac Valley past Romney

    Ryan Colaw hit an RBI single in the top of the 11th inning to put Potomac Valley up 9-8 and Garrett Keller’s hit made it 10-8 as Potomac Valley won the championship game of the West Virginia Area American Legion Tournament, 10-8, in 11 innings over Romney Sunday at Petersburg High School.

    July 29, 2014

  • Maryland state tournament begins today at Memorial Field

    The Maryland American Legion Baseball State Tournament returns to Cumberland today with six teams competing for the state title at Memorial Field at the Hammersmith Hot Stove Complex.

    July 29, 2014