Putting down Jeffrey Loria and the rest of the Marlins’ front office is the popular thing to do around baseball at this time. It’s easy and on the surface may even appear valid to some. However, if a person sits down and takes the time to analyze everything — they may be surprised with what they start to think. The biggest misconception is Mr. Loria is only interested in money and not in winning. This couldn’t be further from the truth, he is a tremendous fan of the team and is driven to be a champion as much as every loyal fan of the team is. Is money a factor? Of course it is but it is not the only factor. The most alarming thing is how some have called Mr. Loria, as well as Marlins’ President David Samson evil. These men have done a lot for the South Florida community over the years. Whether you agree with their spending or not, it is unfair to refer to them as evil.
Last off-season, Mr. Loria took a monumental risk and shelled out money left and right while taking the baseball world by storm. He got his choice to manage the team and he signed several of the off-season’s biggest names. It was an attempt to put the brand new Miami Marlins on the map while they were set to begin play in a sparkling new ballpark. The plan was brilliant and it is exactly what should’ve been done. When this happened, the opinions of Mr. Loria should’ve improved greatly but the fact is — they didn’t. Even after spending all that money and trying to spend more (Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson), there were voices around baseball still referring to Mr. Loria as cheap. There were people that would seemingly never change their opinion of the Marlins’ owner no matter how much he deserved praise. Were they the best signings? That is debatable especially Heath Bell’s contract but the fact of the matter is, Mr. Loria spent his money and spent a lot of it to try and bring another trophy to South Florida.
We all know what wound up happening to the 2012 Marlins, they were a disaster in many ways. That blame cannot fall on Mr. Loria and it should really not fall on the front office as a whole. They arguably built a championship caliber roster but that roster failed to produce results. That falls on the players and that brings this to the next part of the saga. When a team is a losing team, it doesn’t make much sense to just send them back out there again the next year and see what happens. That’s not the thing a winning team would do. A team that wants to win will make changes to try something new. What the Marlins did with their series of trades will probably not make them contenders in 2013 but they most likely weren’t about to contend in 2013 anyway. These trades however made them a lot younger and a lot more talented for the long term.
Even though the Marlins are very unlikely to be in postseason contention in 2013, they should finish with a better record than they had last season. For those who do not recall, that team won 69 games. This younger roster is capable of putting up around 75 wins most likely which is of course a losing season, but is progress. Some people in the media and in the fan universe will have you believe that Miami will lose 100 plus games in 2013. Some have stated it will be as bad as 1998 and this is simply not true. The 1998 team didn’t have Giancarlo Stanton, it didn’t have Steve Cishek, and it didn’t have a talented group of guys around them. While young and unproven, the Marlins have a decent roster and one that is expected to only get better as they gain more experience.
I took a poll of Marlins fans to gauge their feelings on the front office as a whole. The comments were almost all one-sided which was expected but there were a couple who did give Mr. Loria and Mr. Samson some credit. Here is a brief sampling of those quotes:
“On the outside, Loria and Samson appear to want to build a competitive team without spending Dodger dollars. On the inside, however, concern number one is guaranteeing a profit.” – Serdar S.
“They are an embarrassment to MLB and the biggest dumb dumbs to ever exist” - Stephanie E.
“Loria is Emperor Palpatine and Samson is Darth Vader. Beinfest is Jar Jar Binks.” – James E.
“I think its important to note that the FO doesn’t want this team to fail. But the truth of the matter is that there are more important things to them than winning. Like turning a hefty profit, for example. Sadly, it would be nice if they realized that those two things go hand in hand.” – Kevin C.
“2012 wasn’t Loria or Samson’s fault. They spent the money. The team failed them. Beinfest’s 2003 World Series Championship free pass has got to be expiring. Why isn’t anyone questioning the change of titles/duties that Beinfest and Hill had in 2007? Everything has gone bad since then, starting with the Miggy trade.” – Pedro F.
“In truth, they’re not as terrible as people make them out to be. They got rid of these big contracts, but it’s not like we’re the only team who’s ever done that. We’re just the most recent and seemingly most often. In all fairness … The guys we got back from the trades (all of em this year) … not bad at all. It took me a couple of weeks, but now I see what this team could be, and I’m kinda excited. They also brought us a ballpark” – Michael T.
“2012 was a disaster and they are right now working to repair that as long as we take action there is no failure only outcome. Jeffrey Loria and David Samson are the ones that got us our Marlins Park. 2 ownerships refuse to try, how can we possibly bad mouth them?” – Brian S.
I’ve written here in the past on all the good deeds the Marlins have done in terms of charitable work but Brian S. brought up another solid point in his quote. This is the ownership group that got a new ballpark built. After trying since the inception of the team, Miami finally has a baseball park and that would not have happened without the tireless efforts of Mr. Loria and Mr. Samson. While yes, public funds were used for a good percentage of the ballpark — the fact remains that Mr. Loria did also invest some of his own money.
Do you have to love and admire the Marlins’ front office? Do you have to think they are the greatest front office in sports? No, of course not. They have their flaws but every ownership group has their flaws. When you stop to review everything they have done since coming to town in 2002 though, maybe just maybe — you will be able to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that they are trying to build a winner in South Florida. They don’t want to lose money, and every ownership group wants to do the same but they also want to win championships. The recent moves prove they are committed to building a long-term winner. The prospects that they have stockpiled have a ton of potential as do prospects such as Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez who were already in the system. The Marlins could be looking at a dynasty starting in a couple of years.
To the fans saying they won’t go to games next year: that’s your option but you will be missing an exciting young team. You will also be missing a team that will win more games than the vaunted 2012 roster did. To the fans who hate this front office and will never change that opinion: you’re entitled to do that but you’re being unfair in a lot of cases. You do not need to believe in the front office as much as I do but you also shouldn’t systematically put down every move that is made. Mr. Loria, Mr. Samson, Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill are not perfect but nobody is perfect. They do the best with what they have available to them and that’s all we should ask for.