Having now traded away infielder and former franchise cornerstone Hanley Ramirez, second baseman Omar Infante, and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, it appears that the Miami Marlins are in full fire-sale mode. This impression is further compounded by Josh Johnson's rumored residence on the trading block.
Now, trading away large portions of the starting lineup is nothing new for the Marlins. This team has long gutted its roster with penny-pinching trades the moment it triumphs. After winning a championship in 1997, Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, and Gary Sheffield vanished. After another title in 2003, Derrek Lee, Brad Penny, Pudge Rodriguez, Josh Beckett, and Mike Lowell left. Miguel Cabrera soon followed them out of town. This was the Marlins' strange eternal life cycle. Develop young talent, win World Series on the backs of said young talent, immediately trade away young talent.
But 2012 was supposed to change all that! The Marlins had finally gotten their new stadium, a new name and uniforms, and for the first time in their history, they had invested in the offseason free-agent market. They made a serious play for Albert Pujols, and, even though they missed out, they came away with Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, and Heath Bell. This year was going to be a treat for "Marlins fans," a term historically used to refer to Mets fans who had retired to Boca.
Hanley would bounce back. So would Carlos Zambrano. Giancarlo Stanton would climb further, slip-free. Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison would hit well to round things out. Bell would make everyone forget Leo Nunez (or whomever). And the technicolor whirligig would rise every night.
Of course, things haven't gone according to that plan. The Marlins are a lame 45-51. Hanley has struggled, and so has Zambrano. Stanton got hurt. Gaby Sanchez went back to triple-A, and Logan Morrison should have. And Heath Bell can't even close as well as a position player.
But this is exactly what they deserve. Loria splurged on talent only after swindling the citizens of Miami into footing 80 percent of the bill for his monstrous stadium. He murdered baseball in Montreal, and he did it all to write a pretentious love note to Joan Miro. The man hasn't done right by anyone since Charles Schulz retired.
The real Marlins finally breached this morning, when their official account retweeted MLB.com beat writer Joe Frisaro:
Trading Hanley changes mood in clubhouse, a source said, "it was time" #Marlins
— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) July 25, 2012
The Marlins, you see, want to be a big-market franchise in almost every way: big free agents, expensive stadium, organizational backbiting. They just don't want to write the checks.