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These Fish Don’t Fool Me

By Mike Silva ~ November 17th, 2011. Filed under: Outside the Apple.

On Opening Day 2011 there were 12 teams with payrolls of $100 million dollars or more. The Florida, now Miami Marlins were 7th from the bottom with a payroll of $56 million dollars. Over the last two weeks we have heard they have outstanding offers to Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, Ryan Madson, and Mark Buehrle. They have been connected to Cuban defector Yoennis Cespedes. They also have meetings scheduled with C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt. All this is going one while team president David Samson was non-committal on the payroll going north of $100 million dollars. Does any of this make sense to you? It does to me, and it has nothing to do with improving the roster.

This is the great winter of false hope courtesy of David Samson and Jeffrey Loria. Flirt with every free agent on the market, make an offer they will never accept, sign one of the lower-tier stars (Reyes), and hope the fans of South Beach are missing Pat Riley’s Big Three and purchase some Marlins season tickets to their new ballpark along the way.

I’ve heard fans argue that a new ballpark will generate the kind of revenues to allow Loria and Samson to pull off such a payroll jump. Are you going to tell me that the non-existent fans of South Beach are all of a sudden going to show the support the people of San Francisco have for the Giants? Since AT&T Park opened in 2000, the Giants have been one of the top drawing teams. They won the World Series in 2010, which helped them sport an Opening Day payroll of $118 million dollars. The daily sellouts allowed them to add a big piece like Carlos Beltran in July.

San Francisco is a perfect example because they had similar ballpark and attendance problems before then Pac Bell Park opened. They averaged a little over 25,000 a game in their last season at Candlestick in 1999. A year later they get the new ballpark and they were over 40,000, and last year was over 41,000. The 2002 Giants team that went to the World Series had a payroll of $78 million dollars. The Minnesota Twins moved into a new ballpark two years ago and were able to raise their payroll to $113 million. They have already indicated that figured will go below the $100 million mark this year. The Texas Rangers have a brand new cable contract and they were below the $100 million mark last year. The best case scenario for the Marlins is they become another version of San Francisco or Minnesota. Again, this is the best case scenario.

If the outstanding offers to Reyes, Buehrle, Pujols, and Madson were accepted, I am (based on expected market value) assuming an AAV payroll increase of around $65 million dollars. That more than doubles the 2011 payroll, and allocates more than 50% of it to four players. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski recently said it was too risky for his team to have three $20 million dollar per year players. That would be about 55% of their 2011 budget. In the case of Pujols, the Marlins are committing to big dollars for a decade, something they have never done in their franchise history. Are you starting to see the how the numbers don’t add up?

I haven’t even gotten into the 11 arbitration eligible players due for raises they already employ, which includes Anibal Sanchez and Leo Nunez aka Juan Oviedo. Listen, I am not saying the Marlins aren’t going to sign someone. I would expect them to sign Reyes and a bunch of B-Level free agents that will improve their club. They are finally going to behave like a normal MLB team, something they have rarely done under Loria. What I do not believe is they are going to all of a sudden spend like they are the New York Yankees. That is, unless, Jeffrey Loria is ready to put a bunch of his personal money into the club. Do you honestly believe that will happen? They didn’t even want to do that to build this “revenue generating” ballpark. About that ballpark, how much revenue is it actually going to generate? The year after they won the World Series they drew 6,000 more fans per game. The concept of this boondoggle is just not reality.

So Ozzie Guillen can talk all he wants about how “serious” the Marlins are about this spending. No one believes him or his ownership group. Hey, playing fantasy baseball in November and December is always fun. If you think anyone is stupid enough to play along, think again. These fish don’t fool me; don’t let them fool you.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. You can read about him professionally at mikejsilva.com.
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2 Responses to These Fish Don’t Fool Me

  1. Dallas

    I can’t believe MLB let Loria have another club after what he did with the Expos.

  2. Ken Bland

    Couple days ago, I heard Jim Bowden say on his XM/Sirius program that he’d talked to sources close to Hanley that indicated he wasn’t too enthused about moving off the shortstop position. Reyes could well wind up signing with Florida, but to this point, I’m inclined to believe that any enthusiasm he’s showing, and further publicizing the assumed offer, or at least however much it actually might be, is very possibly an attempt to drive interest higher from other suitors.
    There’s no rush to sign, unless you get a deal nobody will match like Werth did last year, or probably Papelbon did this year.

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