With a beautiful new ballpark opening, 2012 was supposed to be a different Marlins. No longer designated the "Florida" Marlins and ready to take the City of Miami by storm by renaming the team the "Miami" Marlins and changing their uniforms to Miami's flag's colors. In came free agents Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle and manager Ozzie Guillen was added from the Chicago White Sox. Even some Albert Pujols talk floated its way through Miami. This year was supposed to be different.
2012 started out badly even before it began. The signing of shorstop Jose Reyes meant that Hanley Ramirez would have to switch to playing third base. Nobody bothered to give Reyes a call before the signing to ask him, and Ramirez was "not on board" with the plan. Ramirez would eventually play third base, but it was not a happy time for him in Miami.
Once the season began it only took just over a week for free-mouthed Ozzie Guillen to start upsetting people. The first time he did it was the people of Miami, many of whom whose families had familial roots in Cuba. Guillen said that he "admired" dictator Fidel Castro, whose name was synonymous with oppression to many.
Then - the team played poor baseball. In April, the team got off to an 8-14 start. In May the team appeared to hit their groove, going 21-8. At the end of May, the Marlins were 29-22 and just 0.5 games out of first place in the National League East. But then June happened. As quickly as the Marlins went on a tear and got within half a game of first place, they fell. After tying for first place on June 3 the Marlins went 3-17 and finished June 7.5 games out of first place.
Just a few weeks later on July 23rd, the Marlins were 11.5 out of first place and began disassembling their roster. First, the Marlins traded starter Anibal Sanchez and starting second baseman Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers. Sanchez and Infante both helped the Tigers get to to the World Series.
Then, the Marlins gave up on Hanley Ramirez in a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In return they acquired Nate Eovaldi. Eovaldi replaced Sanchez in the rotation and went 3.7 for the Marlins the rest of the way and Greg Dobbs was the primary starter at third base the rest of the way.
At season's end the Marlins were 69-93 and 29 games out of first place. $27 million closer Heath Bell blew eight saves. $58 million starter Mark Buehrle was a .500 pitcher. $102 million shortstop Jose Reyes was indeed productive, but his batting average fell 50 whole points from 2011.
The exodus continues. Closer Heath Bell was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday. One must think that more moves are coming. There are even reports that the Marlins are already "aggressively" interviewing candidates to replace Manager Ozzie Guillen. Guillen perhaps fired a pre-parting shot at Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who has gone through manager after manager in Miami. Guillen's status reportedly will be addressed next week, reports CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. Who could be next?
The plan going into 2012 was to build a new brand, a team that Miami could be proud of. Now, there appears to be no plan. After 1997 and 2003 the Marlins brought in many blue chip prospects for the future. None of their return in 2012 seems to be any more than inventory exchanged in a pure salary dump.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria always did what he wanted with his money and his team. The result? Disaster. Couldn't happen to a better guy.