It would have felt less dishonest, and been a more prudent business and baseball strategy, if the Marlins had done what the cheap and awful Pittsburgh Pirates did, getting a taxpayer-funded ballpark without even bothering to inflate the payroll with fan appeasement. That way, the Marlins could at least argue that they were abiding by some sort of careful and consistent baseball philosophy, looking for cheap value, exploiting market inefficiencies and waiting to spend that extra ballpark revenue when they were closer to winning.
There would have been a public backlash, of course, but it wouldn’t have felt and looked like the seismic sewage that swallowed them last week. Now they look like they are immoral and don’t have any earthly idea what they are doing. There is only one thing worse than fans thinking their team is run by crooks: Fans thinking their team is run by incompetent ones.
The Marlins have never valued managers. But they traded prospects and spent millions on one they fired after a year — and will be paying for years to come.
The Marlins have always found effective closers without overspending. They spent millions on an old, fat one they sent away after a year — and will be paying for years to come.
Given that they also gave the Blue Jays $4 million in that everything-must-go fire sale, the Marlins might somehow pay people about as much to not work for them the next two years as they’ll pay people to work for them next year.
What kind of way is that to run a business? Making dumb mistakes, and then spending millions to make those dumb mistakes go away? It is a reckless stupidity that will handcuff future team spending, and it will play defense against the Marlins being good in the future even if by some miracle they do start making smart decisions and finding cheap value. Say what you will about the outrage that surrounds management, these people have always been good businessmen — excellent at making money, anyway — and they have a new bejeweled ballpark in our broke city to prove it. But they went about turning their most recent profit in the loudest, worst and most inefficient way possible.
The Marlins spent money like drunk rock stars at the winter meetings on whatever free agents happened to be available, abandoning their core principles with a recklessness that, while exciting, was not only out of character but also debaucherous. This cruel and random sport’s history is littered with expensive failures who thought it mattered to win the offseason. The Marlins did this to create a buzz that is now long forgotten, replaced instead by something the customers view as betrayal and deceit. This is actually the perfect team for the state of Florida, where we specialize in foreclosures.
Any healthy relationship has a foundation of trust, but here is where we are with our dysfunction: We don’t trust middle management to get the right players. We don’t trust upper management to keep those players if by some miracle they are the right ones. And we don’t trust upper, upper management to fire middle or upper management for failing to acquire or keep the right players.
Instead, what the Marlins keep doing is firing lower management again and again — Joe Girardi and Fredi Gonzalez and Ozzie Guillen. It is like watching a CEO run his business into the ground with recklessness and embezzlement while continually blaming and firing the company’s janitors.