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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Marlins' Moolah Mania

With yet another Marlins’ free agent signing in the books, I felt the urge to get out a few thoughts. I have no freaking clue what Miami is doing this off-season. They have now signed Jose Reyes for 106 million dollars and Mark Buehrle for 58 million; while announcing they are now formally out of the chase for Albert Pujols. These moves give this mid-level market team 164 million dollars in commitments to a shortstop with bad hamstrings, and an aging number three starter.

The Marlins had good intentions to pack their brand new stadium with a worthy team in 2012, and while that still may happen, they are not putting together a championship roster. They had some good young talent already in place before Jeffrey Loria’s free agent spending bonanza, but were sorely lacking a superstar team leader. Their recent signings have done nothing to fill these voids.

Reyes and Buehrle are excellent players, but they are more suited as complementary pieces. Pujols was the real prize, and Miami should have gone all in instead of playing around with lesser free agents. From media reports, it sounded like they were right there in Pujols’ ear, and poised to strike an agreement before some unknown variable went down that led to them withdrawing their pursuit.

Now the Marlins have to evaluate what their 164 million dollar spending spree has actually bought them. They are left with a new shortstop, whose presence will likely drive their current best player, Hanley Ramirez, out of town, because he doesn’t have the maturity to handle having his position usurped. Even if Ramirez agrees to move to third base, his past dictates that he is not a team player and is likely to cause headaches in the clubhouse. The best scenario for Miami would be to trade him. Coming off a poor 2011 season, Ramirez will likely only command around 75 cents on the dollar for the Marlins; not a great return on such a young, toolsy player.

The Marlins can probably pencil Buehrle in for 12-15 wins a year for the next four seasons, but at what cost? Although he is a good bet to be a consistent presence in their rotation, there was certain to be more reasonably priced options out there to pair with Miami’s already  solid starting nucleus of Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez.

So, I ask again, what exactly did the Marlins buy when they signed Reyes and Buehrle? The clearest result of their signings is that they sent a message to their fans, that says not only did the Marlins have plenty of money that they could have spent in the past to avoid having such crappy teams, but that they also really don’t have anyone in their front office who knows how to spend said cash effectively or efficiently. 

The Marlins have come across like lotto winners who buy up every overpriced toy that pop culture dictates they should buy because they have the money. Money doesn’t always buy happiness, and it doesn’t always buy championships.


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