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Senior Baseball Columnist

Marlins' owner rips team, and city, apart with despicable trade and must be stopped

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Marlins executives Jeffrey Loria (left) and David Samson have a history of running fire sales. (Getty Images)  
Marlins executives Jeffrey Loria (left) and David Samson have a history of running fire sales. (Getty Images)  

Now we know, unequivocally. Ozzie Guillen is the fortunate one.

So is Heath Bell. And, now, Josh Johnson. And Mark Buehrle. And Jose Reyes. And every other player who has left or is leaving that godforsaken hellhole of what somehow passes for a baseball outpost in Miami.

This time next year, only things left will be tumbleweeds, cockroaches and Jeffrey Loria.

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Even by Marlins standards, the 12-player monster trade with Toronto is a despicable disgrace.

And it is an utter shame, because baseball long ago should have called the exterminators to eliminate Loria from its landscape. Where’s contraction when we really need it?

Loria’s Marlins soaked the taxpayers for some 80 percent of the cost of new Marlins Park. By the time it opened in 2012, some $2.4 billion in debt service was strapped onto the backs of taxpayers. Talk about publicly funded.

It was one thing when this band of liars the players’ union once slapped for pocketing revenue sharing money and not spending enough on, you know, players, promised to change its ways once the new park was in place.

It was one thing when Loria and his little henchman David Samson swaggered into that New York tavern at 12:01 a.m. last November on the first day clubs could negotiate with free agents and made a big show for Jose Reyes.

It is quite another thing when one year later Loria and Co. are shipping Reyes -- and everyone else they signed last winter -- across international borders in some sort of twisted joke that even the World Trade Organization surely will condemn in coming days.

The flea-market Marlins have a history of running fire sales, garage sales, rummage sales, blue-light, half-yearly sales, Jeffrey Loria Needs a New Picture Frame sale and every other sort of sale you can name.

But not when they’ve got a brand-new, mostly-taxpayer-funded, gleaming new monolith sitting in their backyard.

Before, fire sales were the byproduct of running a ballclub recklessly and irresponsibly.

Now? Even the corporate raiders and cowboy swindlers on anything-goes Wall Street would wind up with hard time operating a bait-and-switch like this.

Loria, he winds up with fistfuls of cash and bad art in his outfield.

Remember how brash the Marlins were at the winter meetings last December? Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell … hell, they even took a hard run at Albert Pujols. They committed $191 million to those three free agents and said there was more where that came from.

Now we know why they have an organizational policy against no-trade clauses.

Gee, whom do you think the next high-profile free agent will be to sign for 100 square miles of Florida swampland?

This is what club president/assistant snake oil salesman Samson said last December as the Marlins were signing Reyes, Buehrle and Bell: “Three years ago, looking ahead to this free-agent class, to our new ballpark, we made a decision not to wait for the excitement, but to bring the excitement to our fans.

“It was the perfect storm for our philosophy.”

These guys don’t even have the decency to allow a full year to pass before revealing even further that their only philosophy is lying and deceiving.

Here is what president of “baseball operations” Larry Beinfest said last month upon firing Guillen: “Our hope is that a new manager, along with roster improvements, will restore a winning culture.”

Only culture the Marlins have is the kind you swab, put on a Petri dish, place under a microscope and look for contagious bacteria. Mike Redmond just signed to manage in baseball’s sewage system, is what he did.

Already, even before this sham of a deal is announced with the Blue Jays, the reviews are roasting.

Tweeted Giancarlo Stanton (@Giancarlo818): “Alright, I’m pissed off!!! Plan & Simple.”

In a classic response via Twitter, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper messaged Stanton: “@Giancarlo818: you can always come play for the Nats! We will take you anytime! Get some red, white, and blue!”

Clown franchise, bro. Clown franchise.

The Marlins ran their payroll up to a club-record $100 million in 2012. After trading Hanley Ramirez (Dodgers), Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante (Tigers), Edward Mujica (Cardinals), Bell (Diamondbacks) and, now, Reyes, Buehrle and Josh Johnson (Blue Jays), they’re down to around $16 million before arbitration for 2013.

In Reyes (six years, $106 million) and Buehrle (four-years, $58 million), the Marlins are shipping to Toronto two marquee free agents who had made good-faith commitments to them, given the absence of no-trade clauses.

In Miami, there is no good faith.

There only is a new shortstop, Yunel Escobar, best-known for wearing a gay slur on his eyeblack in September.

What we’ll hear from the Marlins con men is all sorts of sonnets to the prospects they’re receiving from the Jays, but don’t buy it. Sure, of the seven players headed to Miami, three were ranked among Baseball America’s top 10 Blue Jays prospects (starter Henderson Alvarez, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and outfielder Jake Marisnick).

But at this time, in this place, after last winter and with a taxpayer-funded ballpark, this blight on the game of a franchise should be about the now, not the future.

This didn’t have to happen. It shouldn’t have happened.

And whether it’s by Commissioner Bud Selig, the Securities and Exchange Commission or Secret Agent Man, the swindler Loria must be stopped.

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