I know it is the offseason and this is the time where baseball teams trade players and sign free agents, but the last time I checked my calendar, it said 2012. However, after what happened in Miami Tuesday night, it sure feels a lot more like 1997 offseason than the 2012 offseason.
For those of you who remember, the Marlins won the 1997 World Series championship in just their fifth year of existence. Prior to the 1997 season, the Marlins’ former owner Wayne Huizenga (who also owned the Miami Dolphins in the NFL) went on a wild free agent spending spree.
The fish signed free agents third baseman Bobby Bonilla, outfielder Moises Alou, and starting pitcher Alex Fernandez to big dollar contracts. At the trade deadline, Florida added Darren Dalton and Jim Eisenreich for the stretch run. It worked as the Marlins went on to beat the Cleveland Indians in the Fall Classic in seven games.
Following that first championship, the unthinkable happened. Huizenga gutted the team in one of the largest fire sales (if not the largest) in sports history.
Alou was dealt to Houston while Kevin Brown who has signed with Florida before the 1996 season, was traded to San Diego. Catcher Charles Johnson who came up with the Marlins was dealt along with Bonilla, Gary Sheffield, Eisenreich and Manuel Barrios (who was acquired for Alou) to the Dodgers.
The Marlins acquired Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile from the Dodgers, but Piazza was flipped to the Mets less than a week later while Zeile was flipped to Texas.
Now, let’s fast forward to the offseason following the 2011 season. As the rebranded Miami Marlins prepare to open a brand new baseball only stadium, (new) ownership again goes on a spending spree after years of bottom dollar teams. The Marlins signed shortstop Jose Reyes away from the Mets and closer Heath Bell away from the Padres. Starting pitcher Mark Buerhle also signed with the fish after spending the first 11 years of his career with the White Sox and trade for Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano.
But, unlike the 1997 Marlins, the 2012 Marlins did not win. Instead, they lost and they lost a lot. The Marlins finished the 2012 season with a record of 69-93, good for dead last in the NL East.
In late July, Hanley Ramirez, the face of the Marlins was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers for almost nothing. Then on October 20, the Marlins dealt Bell to the Diamondbacks. Three days later the fish canned manager Ozzie Guillen.
After just over three weeks since the Marlins made any moves, the other shoe dropped when the Marlins agreed to trade Reyes, Buerhle, starting pitcher Josh Johnson (who came up with the Marlins), speedy infield/outfielder Emilo Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck to Toronto.
It sounds to me like the Marlins are going back to the drawing board and starting over from scratch. It’s just a shame that the fish were unable to get rid of the awful home run sculpture.
Now, with Buck being traded to Toronto and the Marlins having just hired a new manager in former Marlins catcher Mike Redmond, I am wondering if the fish are going to bring back the days of a player manager and try to save even more money by putting Redmond back behind the plate? He did catch 687 games over his 13 year big league playing career which ended following the 2010 season.