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Wednesday (The Marlins are the worst-case scenario) edition: Wha' Happened?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • November 14, 2012 - 9:48 AM

At the start of the 2012 season, the Marlins were re-branded. They had a brand new stadium. They had a new name -- Miami, not Florida. And they had the seventh-highest payroll in MLB ($118 million), filled with fresh free agent signees such as Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle.

Much like a lot of what happens in South Beach, however, it was all at best short-term and at worst a fraud ... a mirage ... an illusion.

Take a look at those 2012 salaries:

Carlos Zambrano, $19 million: free agent in 2013

Hanley Ramirez, $15 million: Traded to Dodgers

Josh Johnson, John Buck, Reyes, Buehrle, combined $37 million: Reportedly traded to the Blue Jays

Anibal Sanchez, $8 million: Traded to Tigers

So they shed $79 million of last year's payroll already, with more perhaps to come. If they are somehow retooling because this was the wrong mix -- and reinvesting in other quality players -- then we will withdraw some of the criticism.

But it doesn't seem like that's happening. Instead, it seems like pro sports' worst fears realized: a team promising spending if it gets a shiny new publicly financed stadium -- the new Marlins ballpark cost roughly $630 million, with more than $500 million of that coming from the public -- and then quickly slashing payroll, leaving a massive bill for the customers who are watching an inferior product.

Twins fans have grumbled about payroll caps at Target Field, but the local spending is no fire sale. The Twins still had a payroll in the upper half of MLB last year ($94 million) and will likely spend a little more than that in 2013. The Marlins might not spend half that.

Vikings fans, too, might worry that Zygi Wilf will close his wallet with a new stadium set to be built. The NFL salary structure, however -- combined with Wilf's track record -- make that exceedingly unlikely.

The Marlins, then, are somewhat of an anomaly. But they are also a nightmare -- the worst-case scenario in public stadium funding, and perhaps enough to scare off some other cities considering a new facility.

 

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