Wednesday, July 25, 2012
There is not much more to say about the Marlins' decision to trade Hanley Ramirez for some prospects and a bucket of baseballs. The following facts are clear:
- With the team out of contention and attendance not as robust as the team had initially hoped, the Marlins are content to cut salary and focus on 2013 and beyond. Trading Ramirez, Randy Choate, Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante will save the Marlins roughly $12 million in 2012 payroll (based on a rough back-of-envelope calculation).
- The ONLY WAY the Ramirez deal can be considered a success is if the Marlins use the $31.5 million he was owed in 2013-2014 to lure a free agent hitter to Miami this winter. They gave Ramirez away so that Los Angeles would take on his entire salary. If they use this new financial flexibility to get a top-tier hitter, I'll be okay with the deal.
- Let's not pretend that this is a reprise of the Miguel Cabrera trade. Hanley's OPS+ this year is 100 - which is literally the average (last season it was 95). $15 million is a lot to pay for an average hitter with suspect defense. I would have preferred the Marlins to have swapped Ramirez for a somewhat comparable player (the Marlins were reportedly offering Ramirez for Baltimore's Nick Markakis for instance), but why would another team offer much in return for Ramirez at this point? The true error of the deal is that the Marlins sold low on Ramirez, not that they sold at all.
- Of the two prospects Miami got in return, I'm more excited about Nathan Eovaldi, who will join the rotation right away. But as we learned with Andrew Miller, there is no such thing as a sure-thing prospect. We'll have to keep our fingers crossed. Scott McGough has been assigned to class-A Jupiter, meaning it could be another year or two before he cracks the major league roster.
Finally, I've resisted the temptation to criticize the Marlins' front office for the past year and a half, but it is beyond obvious that Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill have made some severe missteps as of late. The Marlins have whiffed on their first-round picks for the past decade (this is true even if recent draftees Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez turn to gold) and have made some very questionable moves in free agency (see Bell, Heath and Oviedo, Juan, for just two examples).
The Marlins are one of the few teams that treats advanced statistics with more skepticism than is necessary. This is forgivable when you have a good scouting department, but I don't think the Marlins have that (do you?). My own biases aside, I think it's time for the Marlins to bring in an MBA with the analytic chops to find the underpriced gems and sell the overpriced duds at the right time (it worked for the Red Sox, no?). You know how to find me, David Samson...