Marlins, Blue Jays close to blockbuster trade; Miami waves the white flag

As I’m writing this article, the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays are close to a humongous trade that would make even the Red Sox and Dodgers general managers blush. The Marlins are set to send SPs Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, SS Jose Reyes, C John Buck and UTIL Emilio Bonifacio to the Blue Jays for Ps Henderson Alvarez and Justin Nicolino, SS Yunel Escobar, 3B Adeiny Hechavarria and potentially other prospects.

Before I go batshit crazy on the Marlins, it is important to look at this deal from a baseball prospective in regards to what the Toronto Blue Jays are doing. Toronto has been searching for ways to compete with the likes of the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays and now the Orioles in the American League East for years. For all the things they’ve done well over the years (picking up Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion off the scrap heap, turning Brandon League into Brandon Morrow), they just haven’t been able to compete on a yearly basis with the teams in their division.

Now, with the Red Sox in turmoil and upheaval and the Yankees trying to improvise on the fly, the Blue Jays want to believe that the time to strike is here. And this move literally accomplishes all of their off-season needs in one move.

With Escobar having worn out his welcome in Toronto and Kelly Johnson primed to hit the free agent market, the Blue Jays needed to find a new pair up the middle that could impact their line-up in front of Bautista and Encarnacion. They’ll slot in Reyes, who managed to have a near-All-Star level type season despite being surrounded by nobody and having to bat third for the Marlins, at shortstop and a healthy Bonifacio, who can steal 60+ bases if playing a full season, at second. Those two at the top of the order with the likes of Bautista, Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, J.P. Arencibia and the emerging prospects of Travis d’Arnaud provide one of the deepest and most dynamic line-up in the American League.

Turn the attention now to the Blue Jays starting rotation, which was their main reason for not being able to piece together a more competitive 2012 campaign. They lost Brandon Morrow to injury in the middle of his strong season, and Ricky Romero inexplicably fell off the grid all together. The team will be able to infuse Josh Johnson, who in a down year struck out 165 batters in 191 innings with a 3.81 ERA to boot, and Mark Buehrle, who is a human Quality Start, along with what they hope to be a bounce-back effort from Romero and a return to health for Morrow. Does this trade make them the best rotation even in their own division? Probably not. But, they have added two legitimate arms that have led rotations in the past into a group that projects to be much improved from a year before.

Which brings us to the Miami Marlins.

I know I have ranted about this team in previous posts before. So excuse me if some of this feels repeated.

The owners of the Miami Marlins should not be allowed to operate a team. At all.

It’s not that teams shouldn’t allowed to make franchise-altering trades like this. Few people had an issue when the Red Sox decided it was time to reboot the franchise and shed payroll in order to start fresh. But with the Marlins, this is by all accounts at least the fourth time they’ve blown up the game plan to start over. The problem?

They’re a franchise that hasn’t even hit their 20th birthday yet. That means they’re averaging a “new outlook” every four or five years.

This is a team that built a new stadium, spent a lot of money in free agency and brought in a new manager, except they still didn’t draw and blamed that on the fan base. Really? Pull that move? Maybe it’s hard to draw fans when you change your entire team every four fucking years!!!

In the history of the Marlins, last off-season was only the second time they spent serious money in free agency. The previous year in which they did so was the winter after the 2004 season, when they brought in the likes of Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca to “set a new image of Marlins baseball”. What does that off-season now have in common with this one? Both those players were New York Mets by Opening Day 2006. Long-term commitments to players that they either couldn’t keep, or even worse, didn’t want to keep.

Moving forward, what free agent will want to sign with the Marlins? Their historically a team that refuses to hand out no-trade clauses in contracts because they want to be able to have the “flexibility” to make moves similar to this one. So, they’re forced to overpay for players to salaries that far exceed their abilities, which ultimately will lead to them getting traded for more prospects so they could “rebuild”. I just don’t understand how a professional organization, in sports or not, can function like this and be taken seriously. In fact, is anyone really taking the Marlins seriously anymore?

I am not a fan of the Miami Marlins. I still believe to this day that there are less than 12,000 true, die-hard Marlins fans. Why? Because what do they have to hang their hat on? What player have they had to call their own besides Jeff Conine? And what does that say about your franchise that Conine is the only player you can call a true Marlin? When you’re always rebuilding, what legacy do you have to establish? They have to be the least-respected two-time champion over the last 20 years.

Think of the players the Marlins have “had” since their birth. Gary Sheffield. Edgar Renteria. Mike Piazza (remember that?). Miguel Cabrera. Josh Beckett. Ryan Dempster. A.J. Burnett. Al Leiter. Hanley Ramirez. Charles Johnson. Livan Hernandez. Derrek Lee. Mike Lowell. Cliff Floyd.

All of those players were Marlins in the prime of their careers. None of them lasted too long in Florida.

Really, a part of me wants to be glad that Jose Reyes’ great plan of leaving my Mets for the Marlins because he felt more secure and at home with their contract offer has blown up in his face and he’ll have to spend the next five years (theoretically) in Toronto. Part of me wants to be happy for the Blue Jays for clearly making possible a trade that will benefit their franchise for next year, and proves once and for all they’re serious about contending in the uber-competitive East.

But really, all I feel is sick and disgusted that once again the owners and people in charge of the Marlins continue to prove that everything they do is a farce.

I’d call for the league to contract the Marlins. But they seemed to have done a fine job of that by themselves.