This wasn't exactly the color of the pennant the Miami Marlins had hoped to raise over that new ballpark down there.
"We're not winning as is," Larry Beinfest, president of baseball operations, told reporters in Miami, "we might as well try something else."
Not four months into what was to be the glorious rebirth of a franchise, up went the white flag. I had believed it would work, too, primarily because they'd get 30-some starts each from Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, because the offense would be alive with Jose Reyes, Giancarlo Stanton and Hanley Ramirez, and because the ninth inning would be steady if not perfect. The Marlins would win one of the wild cards in the National League, get hot behind that rotation and Ozzie Guillen's guile, and go to the World Series, it said here. The organization had finally committed itself to all areas of its product, and the outcome would be spectacular.
Yeah, not so much, unless you count failure and humiliation as spectacular.
In the midst of Monday's flurry that signaled the start of the heavy trading period, the Marlins dealt second baseman Omar Infante and right-hander Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers for top prospect Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers, one a highly regarded catcher.
"There's no way in spring training we thought we were going to make these trades," Guillen huffed.
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The Marlins might never be a model of composure and consistency, but they do have a flair for the selloff, and here they go. From a promising roster and a $102-million payroll, they will consider all offers for the likes of Ramirez, Ricky Nolasco, Heath Bell and Johnson, and how quickly it has turned for the Marlins.
The very talented Johnson has been so-so, as has Nolasco, but in a pitching-thin league they could bring younger arms to band with Turner in a revamped Marlins rotation. Johnson has another season on his contract. The really intriguing player is Ramirez, who, at 28, remains one of the more gifted players in the game. He is enduring his second consecutive mediocre season, however, with a batting average, on-base percentage and OPS well below his career numbers.
The market for Ramirez should be robust. He remains a shortstop at heart and is under contract through 2014, though at the somewhat daunting cost – for some – of $15.5 million next season and $16 million the season after. The Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants, among others, need help on the left side of their infields and Beinfest presumably will engage them all.
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