Monday, August 15, 2016

A Gloomy Look at Marlins for Next Decade

    Giancarlo's injury isn't just a disaster for this year's play-off hopes -- it's an indication of the worsening disasters that await Marlins fans for the next decade. 
    As I have noted before, Stanton is often a wounded warrior. Last October, I wrote a post based on the Woody Allen comment:  "Eighty percent of success is showing up." Stanton was showing up for work only 75 percent of the time. Pujols in his first years, by contrast, was playing 95 percent of the time.
    Now that Stanton's once again done for the year, we can see that he's averaging 118 games for his six full seasons -- or 73 percent of games played. (All figures in this rant based on numbers from

            Stanton Contract + Attendance = 
                            Crushing Numbers

      But another figure is just as depressing.
    Here's the background: The Marlins have been playing exciting baseball up to this point, even after losing the league's batting average leader of 2015, Dee Gordon, for a lengthy stretch. In the middle of August, they're still in serious contention.
    And yet... yet ... they are drawing a mere 21,753 fans per game (through Aug. 14), down about 500 from the average of 22,220 at this point last year, when the team was pretty damn hopeless.

     Miami is just a crummy sports town, except when a championship is on the line, while people in places like Denver and Chicago get much larger, devoted attendance for all sports, even when the teams are dogs. (And I suspect the attendance is inflated with Chevron discounts, free senior Thursdays and those mid-week day camp games that are listed as 25,000-30,000 but those kids are getting in with group discounts meaning that Marlins average price of ticket-sold is much lower than many other teams.)

             Loria Counting on Attendance Boost 

     Here's why this attendance is particularly devastating: Loria, in his infinite wisdom, back-loaded Stanton's contract -- cheap years at the beginning, expensive at the end. Stanton received $6.5 million to start his $325 million contract, $9 million this year and $14.5 million next year. For the decade starting in 2018, he will be receiving $25 million to $32 million a year.
    Loria's theory is that the cheaper years at first would allow the team to build a solid contender around Stanton, creating excitement leading to soaring attendance that would pay for the expensive years later on.
    So not only is Stanton missing a ton of playing time, but attendance isn't soaring -- meaning that in the years ahead, the Marlins won't have the big bucks to build a team and may have to scrimp on other players in order to keep fulfilling the huge Stanton contract.

             As long as I'm ranting... Latos et al.
            I should step back to say the organization has made some good moves. Prado is decent, though he doesn't provide the power that championship teams ordinarily have at third base. Dee Gordon had one great year, although long term, I'll still not sure how valuable he will be. I like Mattingly as a manager, with plenty of good ideas, such as finding lead-off hitters while Gordon was out.  BUT ... BUT ...
          Marlins are paying Wei-Yin Chen $12.5 million this year, $15.5 million next year. So far, he's 5-4, 4.99 and injured. 

          The minor league cupboard is close to bare. The big San Diego trade was pretty much a disaster, and I (along with many fans) don't have much confidence in the Marlins executives making the right decisions.
    Just one example: While the Marlins struggle to find starting pitching, they're off to Cincinnati, where on Tuesday they will be facing Anthony DeSclafani, 6-1, 3.11 ERA, earning $540,000 this year.
    You remember that December 2014 trade? We gave up DeSclafani and a minor leaguer for Mat Latos, who was such a disaster with his $9.4 million contract we dumped him to the Dodgers last year in mid-season.
    And who will be the Marlins pitcher facing DeSclafani? As of Monday morning, it's TBA.

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