The Miami Marlins, with those crazy orange, black, and teal jerseys and opulent flying fish home run statue. What’s not to like? Year in and year out they are the one team in the MLB that I and so many others can’t seem to figure out.
Are they trying to contend or are they rebuilding? Is the front office trying to draft and develop young talent, or are they trying to spend money on stars and veterans?
Since winning two World Series championships in 1997 and 2003, nobody quite knows what this team is doing, and the strategy seems to change as frequently as the wind changes direction.
Frankly it’s hard to keep up, and for all the writers and broadcasters that cover this team on a daily basis, I feel for you.
The Marlins are the most directionless franchise in baseball, and are run by one of the worst owners in pro sports, Jeffery Loria. Over the past six years Loria has gone from taking a back seat in team affairs — offering suggestions but letting his baseball operations department make the decisions — to full on Jerry Jones.
As Fox Sports reported in 2013, Loria became an absolute control freak vetoing minor-league callups for reasons that didn’t pertain to the player’s performance, to flipping the rotation for the day-night doubleheader so Jose Fernandez could start in warmer weather.
The front office has become even more marginalized since then, and the Marlins have gone nowhere. When the team announced their new stadium, a name change from Florida to Miami, and the signing of several coveted free agents in 2012, the team was supposed to make a deep postseason run.
Instead they finished 69-93, 29 games back of the first place Washington Nationals. What resulted was another tear down just one year after a buildup. The move didn’t come as a surprise knowing Loria, and once more the Marlins didn’t have a plan.
The same trend has continued this offseason with the 2016 season approaching.
Early in the winter the prevailing headline surrounding the Marlins was that Jose Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna would be traded. At that point I thought Miami was in for another rebuild after a drama filled 2015 season.
Here is the problem: Rebuilding teams whether it’s a short-term or a long-term approach don’t pay $80 million plus to a veteran starting pitcher.
Teams that are trying to contend do that to fill a need. So are the Marlins rebuilding or trying to compete with the Nationals and the Mets?
There is no question that the starting rotation was a weakness in 2015, and signing Wei-Yin Chen, one of the most underrated starters in baseball was a good move.
Based on the moves made so far, the Marlins look like they want to compete in 2016. But will those moves be enough to compete in a tough division? We will all find out soon.
Here are five major questions for the Marlins heading into 2016.