Saturday, October 20, 2012

Con Man Loria Deals Away Another Contract

"Don't get too comfortable here."
When it comes to dirty dealings that are baseball related, it's hard to find anyone lower than Jeffrey "pond scum" Loria. The soon-to-be 72-year old was estimated to be worth a half-billion dollars two years ago, but like most owners of teams, it's never enough.

Loria ditched more salary today when he traded closer/free agent flop Heath Bell, who signed a three year, $27MM deal  prior to the '12 season, to Arizona for infielder Yordy Cabrera.  It further showed the Marlins (few) fans and voters that now that he has his stadium, Loria really doesn't care what product he puts out there.

Of course, Loria was counting on the team to succeed which (he thought) would draw fans. The end game would be to sell the team at an exorbitant price to continue the con. But let's see how it all started.

First, Loria was part of the triumvirate con run by Major League Baseball (check with Sawyer from Lost as to whether this qualifies as a short or long con) that had Florida Marlins owner John Henry take over the Boston Red Sox, while Loria, then owner of the Montreal Expos took over the fish. MLB, under the auspices of used car dealer/Milwaukee stadium con artist Bud Selig (I would trust Larry "Bud" Melman more), then took over the Expos.

The league did nothing with the Expos except eventually move them to Washington, D.C. There they still did nothing until finding a buyer in Ted Lerner (who showed some class the other day by putting a big ad in The Washington Post thanking the fans for a great season).

Henry, meanwhile has enjoyed the fruits of his money up in Boston, while Loria conned the citizens of Florida into building a new ball park in Miami. (Thinking of the way Floridians have handled things the last decade or so makes me think that maybe they deserved it...apologies to all relatives and friends). I'm not going to get into the details again, but you can at least get a recap from Wikipedia.

Most teams get a big bump when a ball park opens, but the Marlins were the exception to the rule. They drew 27,401 per game, which landed them 18th out of 30 teams. It was still an improvement from last season's 19494 per game, which was dead last in the National League/ Most of the time it looked like there were 100 people in attendance.

Prior to the season the Marlins fans must have been thinking, finally we're getting a team with some valuable veterans.  Jose Reyes came over from the Mets on a six year, $106MM  free agent deal. There was Bell of course and pitcher Mark Buehrle, who departed the Chicago White Sox for four years and $58MM.

The Marlins were said to be in negotiations with Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson as well before both signed with the LA Angels.

This past season was barely halfway through when Loria started the latest fire sale of Marlins players (Former con man owner of the Marlins, Wayne Huizenga paved the way years before after the Marlins captured the '97 World Series.). Pitcher, and free agent after the season, Anibal Sanchez was the first to go, along with infielder Omar Infante, to the Detroit Tigers. Those two must be doing cartwheels right about now. Next was Hanley Ramirez, owed $31.5MM for 2013-2014, who was sent to the LA Dodgers.

Loria entertained offers for Josh Johnson, but held off. That will likely change before or during the season. Johnson will be in the final year of his deal in 2013 and is owed $13.75MM. Reyes and Buehrle could both be dealt as well, esp. Buehrle since he has the shorter, cheaper deal of the two.

All of this dumping, makes the rumored/gossip/joking deal for Alex Rodriguez seem highly improbable (what? A-Rod will bring in maybe another 500 people per game?). Pretty soon the Marlins will be back to over the hill veterans and young prospects that don't belong in the majors yet. And before you know it Giancarlo Stanton will get shipped out of town too.

That's how the con works.

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