Tigers–Marlins Blockbuster Is Win-Win

I’m surprised to see such a strong negative reaction from in the press about the Marlins trading away Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. In particular, the former commissioner was a bit too vocal.

“The fans deserve better,” Vincent told West Palm Beach radio station ESPN 760. “I know that they’ve getting some money from the revenue sharing, the luxury tax and I’m very disappointed.

“Look, they let two wonderful players go and the question is, Why? I mean, Cabrera may be one of the most talented young kids in baseball. That’s very hard for the fans to accept.”

I don’t see this as a bad deal for the Marlins. No matter what size of market you play in, this is the type of move that good organizations make, and I think the Marlins are one of the best in the league (see Chapter 7 of my book). You give up two guys who are about to get very expensive, while your team is very young and you don’t plan to contend next year. Hence, you trade them to a contending team as their rights are expiring for a boatload of prospects. Isn’t this the exact type of deal you are supposed to make? One half of this blockbuster (Willis) was acquired as a prospect in a similar deal.

The Marlins continue their public belly-aching about their stadium situation, and for this I have little sympathy, but that is all it is and the media should ignore it. The team isn’t going to leave, and taxpayers are right not to build the team a new stadium.

This isn’t a fire sale, it’s a good baseball decision from a team that won the World Series just five years ago.

11 Responses “Tigers–Marlins Blockbuster Is Win-Win”

  1. Jason says:

    And on top of that, Willis is probably overrated anyway. Especially if he’s going to the AL, where his hitting won’t matter anymore.

  2. Brian Mills says:

    Willis is most likely overrated, yes. However, he is going to a team that, with the current lineup, has a very legitimate shot at scoring 1000+ runs (they had 887 last year starting the likes of Brandon Inge, Craig Monroe, and Thames and Infante out of a utility role). This year they add Jones who, although not a superstar, in the 8 or 9 hole is better than any of these guys, Edgar Renteria, and Cabrera of course. Then you go to the bench and find Ryan Raburn and Sean Casey to fill in and hit in certain situations. Having a guy with a .350-.360 OBP off the bench is a nice thing to have. Not to mention a solid young player in Raburn if Sheffield needs a break or you want a good hitter of right handed pitching (look at the splits). With that much more run support, even with the questions in the bullpen and Todd Jones closing, a healthy Dontrelle Willis is looking to get more than 6 runs per game of support. I would think a healthy Willis this year will be more successful than the past two, although not to the form of 2005. He also will be pitching to the anemic offenses of the AL Central (not counting the Indians)–the White Sox, Twins, and Royals finsihed third to last, second to last, and last, respectively, in the Major Leagues in runs scored last year. Great trade for the Tigers.

    And I’m glad to find someone who feels this is a win-win situation. Miller is an amazing pitching prospect and Maybin is…19? I think he has plenty of time to improve. The Marlins are very good a grooming prospects and in 3 years, with Miller at the top of the rotation, Maybin, Uggla, and Ramirez established in the lineup, improvement from the likes of Mike Jacobs and the other young pitchers that the Marlins have (most don’t think of them because of injury this season), the Marlins may be looking at another one of those ‘every 5-8 years’ World Series. The hope that they have is that this will sustain decent attendance for the next few years as a hangover effect, enough to have the money to do what they are doing now, yet again.

    And all of this for under $15 million. I’m pretty sure they’ve got it right.

  3. JEC says:

    You make a good point, JC. It’s a much more even trade than the mainstream media claims.

  4. Frank says:

    Spot on JC–I think it is a decent deal for the Marlins. I don’t know much about the 3 young pitchers, but if they turn out to be bona fide prospects this could turn out to be an outstanding deal for the Marlins.

  5. Marc Schneider says:

    It’s probably a pretty good trade in baseball terms but it’s a terrible trade in terms of building support in south Florida. People in Miami (I used to live there) have simply forgotten about the Marlins because of their breaking up teams. Yes, they have won two World Series but other than that, they lose. And they draw flies. I agree the city shouldn’t build them a stadium, but it’s not working in Miami unless you think that drawing 3-4000 fans a game is success. When they make trades like this, it only reinforces the fans’ perception that the team is more interested in keeping payroll low than in presenting a good product. Sure, they will have a great team in 2012, maybe win the WS and then trade off the pieces again. Brian makes the point that winning in 2012 will have a sustained effect on attendence. In my opinion, it won’t. People are disgusted by the Marlins’ management and winning once in a while isn’t going to change that in my opinion. Miami isn’t exactly a sports mecca anyway and the Marlins have pretty much lost the town. This trade will only make things worse no matter what happens in three years. I just don’t see this as a viable way to run a franchise in the 21st century; it’s like the Philadelphia A’s when Connie Mack would build a great team, win a couple of WS and then trade everyone off.

  6. Johnny says:

    If it weren’t for the fact that this is Jeffrey Loria we are talking about I could buy the argument. And in fact the deal is smart baseball the way it leverages assets, but others have written and I tend to agree that its one more attempt by Loria to extract tax dollars for a stadium. Once their stadium lease is up they’ll be talking to Los Vegas, San Antonio et al for a move.

  7. Marc Schneider says:

    Agreed that tax dollars shouldn’t go to stadiums, it’s not clear why Loria is worse than any others. Few new stadiums are built by individuals; the SF Giants and the Redskins come to mind. We have a new $600 mm stadium in DC and, of course, DC has nothing better to do with its money. Under these circumstances, it’s not unreasonable for Loria to ask for what most other cities have done. I can’t really single him out when everyone else does the same. And it is really a lousy baseball stadium. The reality of the situation is, if Miami wants to keep baseball, ultimately, they will have to build a stadium. Because someone else will.

  8. Frank says:

    I’m not convinced that the trade harms baseball support–support is already about as low as it can go (didn’t one game last year draw 375 fans–the low-A franchise where I live draws more). I do, however, think the trade pushes up the timeline for getting a stadium deal done or relocating the franchise.

  9. Brian Mills says:

    In reply to Mark’s comment about the hangover effect of winning a World Series in Florida, I took a look at the number for Marlins attendance the year before and the years after they win the World Series (from http://www.rodneyfort.com Business Data Page). Just eyeballing it, after the 1997 season, Florida did not see a significant increase in attendance. We could most likely attribute this to them having fairly successful attendance numbers previous to ’97 because they were a new franchise. However, after the 2003 World Series win, the Marlins saw their 2004 attendance more than double from the year before winning the world series. Attendance then increased again in 2005 by a smaller percentage, before plummeting below 1.2 million in 2006.

    It is difficult to find a parallel similar to what the Marlins have done with building up then breaking down their team, so there is very little data on this. This is especially true over the past 10 years or so, with teams who win the World Series already having high attendance (Boston) before a World Series win, or continued success post-World Series win (Yankees, Boston, etc). I’m not a statistician, but I’m sure someone has at least explored this issue more in-depth than I could ever hope to. In fact, I believe JC has a chapter on valuing wins and carry over to the next season (correct me if I’m wrong). BP also has an article in their Behind the Numbers book.

    With such a large population in Miami (especially as opposed to San Antonio, as JC cited), I can’t imagine there is no interest in baseball. Not only is South Florida a huge baseball hotbed (which was an argument for moving to Charolotte or Raleigh-Durham), but there is a high Latnio population. There is no reason to think that this population is not interested int he MLB. Most likely, it’s a problem with marketing and marketing toward the right groups.

    My guess is Loria doesn’t do a very good job of this because of his resentment of not being provided a new stadium and would rather not decrease his take from revenue sharing. Now, I’m not saying this is the right thing to do. There should be more restrictions on how the sharing should be used (ie. not putting it into his pocket). It’s the same problem as we’ve seen with teams like the Pirates. The Pirates claim to be changing and hopefully for the fans, the Marlins change as well. As for attendance numbers and team success, the Marlins have more World Series over the past 11 years than how many other teams?

  10. Marc Schneider says:

    I’m sure marketing is a problem as is playing in a football stadium. The Marlins have done a terrible job marketing the team and they have had idiots for owners. How do you market the team when you keep trading the best players? South Florida is not a baseball or any other sports hotbed. If you don’t win, people will not go because there is lots of other stuff to do. The reason there was no uptick after 1997 is that Wayne Huizenga broke up the WS team before the 1998 season and basically put a Triple A team on the field. In 2004, there was an increase because there was some promise that they weren’t going to break up the team. But people in south Florida don’t even take the Marlins seriously anymore because they keep breaking up the team. This trade simply reduces their credibility even more even if they ultimately end up with a good team.

  11. As a fan who goes to 20-plus games a year at the football stadium formerly known as Joe Robbie, I have to say that this trade just makes the team tough to watch in 2008. Last year was pretty bad, with awful defense and pitchers throwing a ton of base on balls…. But as Humphrey Bogart was told in Casablanca, “Rick, we’ll always have Paris,” Marlins owners can’t trade away 1997 and 2003. And how many other teams in the Majors have won two World Series since 1996?