Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:07 pm
DALLAS -- Even as the Marlins formally introduced Jose Reyes at a midday press conference here Wednesday, Albert Pujols shadowed them like an unrealized fantasy.
Owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson would only talk about Reyes, much as the other day they would only talk about new closer Heath Bell when Reyes' deal had not yet become official.
Difference is, there is no agreement with Pujols yet. And there are growing indications that there might not be.
"We're working on some things," was the only thing Loria would say. "Stay tuned."
As the day got longer Wednesday, the lobby buzz at the Hilton Anatole here grew louder that Pujols is moving closer to returning to the Cardinals. Basically, the thinking goes, the Marlins' best chance was with a quick strike, which they executed Tuesday. The Cardinals increased their offer to 10 years and $220 million, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the same day.
Samson said that the Marlins' plan "always was a three-part move", and two of those part now are in house with Reyes and Bell. The third part, clearly, is Pujols. And if he passes, left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle.
If Pujols would decide to come to Miami, the Marlins' plan actually would extend out into at least four parts, because they would trade incumbent first baseman Gaby Sanchez for a starting pitcher.
Whatever happens, the Marlins would like to add starting pitching depth to go with Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 9:23 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 1:56 am
DALLAS -- The Marlins spent an extraordinary amount of time Tuesday afternoon and evening wooing free agent slugger Albert Pujols and appeared to be thundering toward their finish line as darkness enveloped Dallas on a cold Tuesday night.
Whether it is also Pujols' finish line remains to be seen.
The Marlins pushed very, very hard through the night Tuesday to finish a Pujols deal with a 10-year offer, according to sources, worth in excess of $200 million. Closing in on 1 a.m. CDT, sources said the Marlins reached a point where there would be no immediate answer, and they would resume discussions with the Pujols Camp on Wednesday.
Earlier Tuesday, St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak said that the Cardinals presented the slugger with a new offer, their first since last February when Pujols rejected a reported nine-year offer worth a reported $195 million.
Meantime, USAToday's Bob Nightengale reported an unidentified team made a third offer of at least 10 years in what is becoming the most expensive bidding war in baseball history.
Sources with knowledge of the talks said that they expected the Pujols camp to let things play out a little longer.
That strategy did not mesh with what the Fish wanted Tuesday, and they may have to make a decision as a result. As owner Jeffrey Loria canceled dinner plans Tuesday to remain in the Hilton Anatole and try to knock off a deal for the iconic slugger, the Marlins remained players on free agent pitchers Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson.
Marlins officials emerged from an elevator after what appeared to have been a long meeting with Dan Lozano, Pujols' agent, shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday. But club president David Samson repeatedly told reporters, "Nothing to report."
The Marlins want an answer from Pujols sooner rather than later -- they pushed for an answer Tuesday night -- so they can move on to one of those other options if they can't get him. They also want an answer from Pujols soon because of growing concern that they are being used as leverage to jack up the Cardinals' bid.
Bottom line: The Marlins badly want Pujols, but they do now want to lose out on other free agent options if Pujols is a rigged game and it's a fait accompli that he's returning to St. Louis. Whether or not the Marlins sign Pujols, they still want to improve their starting pitching. Without Pujols, they'll look to the free agent market. If they add Pujols, they will look to trade current first baseman Gaby Sanchez for pitching.
Mozeliak did not specify the Cards' new offer to Pujols either in years or dollars. When asked by St. Louis reporters in whose court the ball is in, Mozeliak replied, "Theirs."
"I suspect [a response] is going to come quickly," Mozeliak told St. Louis reporters. "That would have to come from that camp. ... In this situation, we're participants. I don't think we're dictating anything."
The Marlins believed that their offer had to be higher than that of the Cardinals to combat what one source termed the "statue effect." Meaning, if Pujols finished his career in St. Louis, the next step will be that the club and city will erect a statue of him next to the one of Hall of Famer Stan Musial outside of Busch Stadium.
Consequently, the Marlins have put together what sources call a "creative" offer, one that is so complicated that Loria and other Marlins executives met with Dan Haslem of the Commissioner's Office late Tuesday afternoon to review parts of it and, apparently, make sure it is in line with baseball rules and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"Jeffrey is an art dealer. He's accustomed to obtaining special works of art," one National League executive said Tuesday night. "Maybe this is another special work of art."
Surely, they would tell you that Pujols is exactly that in St. Louis.
Whether he'll be on permanent loan anytime soon at the Marlins' posh new baseball museum in Miami is the subject that continues to dominate these meetings.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 12:39 am
DALLAS -- Heath Bell, done. Jose Reyes, done.
Now owner Jeffrey Loria says the Marlins can add more, and you'd better believe it. The Marlins met twice with the agent for Albert Pujols on Monday, sources said late Monday night, boosting its nine-year offer in the process and giving the slugger even more to think about.
No decision was imminent as midnight approached, and one person with knowledge of the talks said they likely will play out more before a decision is reached. The Cardinals also met with Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano, on Monday, and so did the Cubs.
But it is the Marlins who have stolen the show early in these winter meetings, and it is their efforts for Pujols that have electrified the lobby here at the Hilton Anatole.
Pujols in the same lineup with Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton and others?
"That would be great," Bell told CBSSports.com Monday. "I'm telling you right now, we definitely can win the NL East, even with just Reyes."
Imagine that. Even with just Reyes.
As in, gee, even if we don't sign Pujols, we've got an embarrassment of riches.
"I think we can win the division right now," Bell continued. "The Phillies, I think we can beat 'em.
"Ryan Howard is hurt. They might not be getting Jimmy Rollins back."
It is a tilting landscape and a bizarro world. As Rollins continued to frost out on the free agent market Thursday, sources said the Phillies were discussing free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Then they'd trade Placido Polanco, and maybe get a shortstop elsewhere
Whatever on the Phillies front. The Marlins are charging hard toward their new stadium and toward the top of the NL East.
Owner Jeffrey Loria would not speak directly about Pujols on Monday, but not because that's some crazy rumor.
"I don't want to talk about Albert," Loria said. "That's not the purpose of today. This is Heath's day."
Tuesday or, more likely, Wednesday will be Reyes' day, the day the Marlins introduce him formally here at the winter meetings.
Meantime, they're working hard toward another addition. The Pujols talks are serious. So are those for a starting pitcher. One person close to the Marlins suggested Monday night that free agent left-hander Mark Buehrle actually is above Pujols on the club's wish list. Loria has told people that the club's payroll, roughly $45 million last year, could zoom to the $100 million range in 2012.
When this winter started, that seemed like a bad joke.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, thinks the Marlins aren't serious now.
"I'm a serious guy," Loria said. "I don't know how many times I have to tell you guys that."
You cannot even begin to describe how different life is for the Marlins, whose executives arrived here about midday Monday. These are the guys -- Loria, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, general manager Michael Hill -- who sold their wares on the streets of the winter meetings in years past because they were so poor.
These are the guys who traded Miguel Cabrera to Detroit, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston. ...
"We had a plan a few years ago," Loria said. "That's the reason why Mike Stanton is here, the reason why Logan Morrison is here, the reason why Hanley Ramirez is here."
As Beinfest says, the Marlins plan always was to compete, they just had to find extra creative ways to do so.
"It's fun," Beinfest kept saying Monday. "It's fun to come in here and sign an All-Star closer. There's nothing wrong with that."
In a perfect Marlins world, they'd leave Dallas on Thursday with Bell, Reyes and Pujols or Buehrle all done. But as quickly as they're moving, there's still some uncertainty.
"We'd love to get things done as fast as possible and achieve our goals," Beinfest said. "But we don't control everything. It takes two to tango."
Sure does. But the Marlins have entered the free agent market with swagger and are causing some folks to dance as fast as they can. Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt said earlier Monday that he remains "hopeful" of signing Pujols.
"We're making every effort" to sign him, DeWitt said.
Well if they're serious, the Cardinals had better get moving. Because the Marlins are as serious as a spring breaker hell-bent on ravaging the Fort Lauderdale nightlife.
"We want to do more," Beinfest said. "We'd like to do more. There are some things we'd like to achieve.
"We're still in conversation with free agents and with clubs."
Every door is open, including trades -- with players both going and coming. Loria mostly remained tight-lipped regarding diva superstar Hanley Ramirez, who now must shove over to third base to make room for Reyes.
"Hanley is a super-professional," Loria said. "That's all I will say. We will work with him, make everything comfortable for him."
You bet they will. They're making everything comfortable for Bell, Reyes and others as they go. Loria anticipates attendance bumping up to somewhere between 2.8 and 3 million in 2012. They drew an NL-low 1.5 million last year.
They win like Bell says they can, maybe there really, finally, will be a buzz around the Marlins.
Said Beinfest: "It's time for this organization to play October baseball."
Posted on: June 17, 2011 6:41 pm
From the start of this season, no manager was more disposable than Florida's Edwin Rodriguez.
Hired mid-stream last summer without any prior big-league experience to replace the fired Fredi Gonzalez, the Marlins thought enough of Rodriguez to remove the "interim" tag and make him their permanent manager for 2011 ... but they didn't think enough of him to give him more than a one-year contract.
Now, with the Marlins in their worst skid since 1998, club history tells us that Rodriguez is a dead man walking.
No owner in the game has run through more managers than Florida's Jeffrey Loria since the start of the 2003 season.
Perhaps it's because, the first time he whacked a manager (Jeff Torborg), Jack McKeon came in on a puff of cigar smoke and led the Marlins to their second World Series win in five seasons.
Maybe it's because the impatient and temperamental Loria simply is George Steinbrenner on training wheels.
Whatever, Torborg was gassed in May of '03. McKeon, riding his World Series triumph and gutsy pitch-Josh-Beckett-in-Game-6 decision, managed two more seasons and left of his own accord following '05. Joe Girardi managed in '06 but clashed with Loria and was fired after just one season. Gonzalez made it through three full seasons but was fired last June.
Now, coming up on the one-year anniversary of the Gonzalez bloodletting (June 23), it is Rodriguez who is moving toward the guillotine. His Marlins have lost seven in a row, 15 of their past 16 and 18 of 21.
They already sacrificed a coach, firing hitting instructor John Mallee on June 8.
How'd that work out? They're 1-8 since.
The Marlins have lost close (six of seven losses between June 1 and 9, amazingly, were one-run defeats) and they have lost in routs (the Phillies hammered them by a combined score of 17-2 over two games of a four-game Philadelphia sweep this week).
With ace Josh Johnson on the disabled list (again), Hanley Ramirez producing a career-worst season (.205, four homers, 17 RBIs) and third baseman of the future Matt Dominguez hitting just .190 this spring and then fracturing an elbow, a club that needed everything to go right to contend hasn't come close to either.
With Loria, this usually means goodbye, manager.
And barring a sudden turnaround this weekend against in-state rival Tampa Bay, sometime before the start of Monday's brief, three-game homestand against the Angels is a pretty good guess as to when.
Only question is, where the Marlins will turn.
Loria could go back to old buddy Bobby Valentine, the hot rumor a year ago, and see if their two nations can come together this time around.
He also could wait until this winter and see what happens with Ozzie Guillen. The White Sox manager -- and former Marlins coach -- remains a highly popular figure in Loria circles. And being that Ozzie keeps a home in the Miami area, the Marlins wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for him if things go south on the South Side of Chicago. Guillen's contract runs through this summer, with an option for 2012.
When this season started, the Marlins thought they could win now, and they felt like they had to win now because they needed to build momentum and translate that into ticket sales when they move into their new park next year.
Those plans are now in shambles. And when that happens in South Florida, usually, whatever comes next involves Loria, and an itchy trigger finger.
Posted on: June 29, 2010 7:21 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 7:30 pm
One more glimpse into the dysfunctionality of the Marlins:
They've interviewed two men so far to replace fired manager Fredi Gonzalez, interim skipper Edwin Rodriguez and Arizona third-base coach Bo Porter.
Porter was Florida's third-base coach last year. He fled the organization last winter because Gonzalez and his coaching staff were operating under the assumption that owner Jeffrey Loria probably would fire them by this year's All-Star break, according to major-league sources.
Porter spent the past five seasons in the Marlins' organization, and he was their third-base coach from 2007-2009.
Yet he took a lateral job in Arizona, telling people when he left Florida that he would never work for Loria again.
It looks like he still won't: Loria told the Marlins before Tuesday night's game with the Mets that Rodriguez will finish out the season as manager.
The Marlins were reprimanded for not complying with that when they fired Jeff Torborg in 2003 and hired Jack McKeon.