The newly named Miami Marlins have decided that they are finished being basically a minor league team that grows players and ships them off to the Yankees or Red Sox for new young prospects that will just repeat the cycle.
They want to be contenders and not just for one year.
Taking a page out of the big market MLB teams, the Marlins have been throwing around multi million dollar contracts to several big name free agents this offseason in a effort to get their team on the winning track for the future. The usual small pockets that the Marlins have suddenly gotten a whole lot deeper choosing this free agent class to make their moves to change their team into a contender for the NL East.
This change of mentality seemed to start as soon as the name change came to fruition. Finally moving from the football stadium that they have unfortunately called home for the entirety of their life into the brand new ballpark in downtown Miami, Marlins Stadium, lead to the name change from the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins. Keeping up with the external changes, a new logo and uniform combination followed.
There had been rumors that then Chicago Skipper Ozzy Guillen might be on his way out and the Marlins were interested. Turns out those rumors were true as Ozzy was let go and joined Miami giving them a leader that they wanted and could get behind.
Having Ozzy Guillen as their manager ment more to the Marlins then just having a leader who has had success with one team for a extended period of time. They got a predominate face in Major League Baseball all over the world but most importantly to the Latin community. Being so close to the Latin community gave the Marlins a opportunity to reach an fan base so close that can support the team. Having Latin players and managers as the faces of the organization would make them seem much more inviting to the Latin community.
But the big move that surprised a lot of people around Major League Baseball was the offer to New York Mets Shortstop Jose Reyes. A six year, $105 Million contract was almost unheard of from a small spending Marlins team. Signing Reyes would mean having to move Hanley Ramirez to another position most likely third base. Having both Reyes and Ramirez on the left side of the infield and bating 1 and 2 in the Marlins lineup would give them lethally quick leadoff men with 2 threat of stealing every time they are on base. But most importantly it gives the Marlins a huge boost in star power which will lead to more sponsorship, T.V. time, jersey sales, higher attendance, etc.
Not satisfied with just getting Reyes the Marlins set their eyes on a star pitcher to add to their young rotation. Offering a contract player their new manager was quite familiar with in Chicago. Mark Buehrle signed with the Marlins for a 4 year, $58 Million contract to be a veteran presence in their very young rotation. Add in signing the former San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell to a 3 year $27 Million deal the Marlins made their pitching staff greatly improve.
Running off the increased revenue stream, the Marlins made great puches towards several big name players such as former St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols and former Texas Ranger pitcher C.J. Wilson. By just having their names in the mix for such game changing players, the Marlins are making noise as contenders for their future.
Making all of these moves has created a buzz unseen around the Marlins franchise in the offseason that has been all positive. Rather than former players leaving the team and signing monster contracts with big market teams, the team is raking in the big time players who actually want to sign with the team for long term contracts with big money involved. Now Marlins fans are thinking about competing with the Phillies, Braves, and Cardinals for the National League title, rather than stop paying attention to the team when the Heat and Dolphins start playing.
With all of the changes the Miami Marlins have been making since the end of the 2011 season, they are changing the culture of the franchise and making their once uncertain future seem a whole lot brighter.
by Andrew Isaac