Reviewing The Loria/Samson Regime Over The Past DecadeBy
In February 12th, 2002, The sale of the Florida Marlins to Jeffrey Loria was approved by the baseball owners. The managing trio of Loria, President David Samson and general manager Larry Beinfest were formed.
When Loria bought the team in 2002, the Marlins already had a World Series championship from 1997. It was their only winning season. On top of winning a championship of their own, there isn’t much more they would need to do to top previous ownership.
Before Opening Day of their first season as Marlins brass, they made their first trade of the regime by sending pitchers Matt Clement and Antonio Alfonseca to the Chicago Cubs for pitchers Julian Tavarez, Dontrelle Willis and Jose Cueto, and catcher Ryan Jorgensen.
That same year, they traded star outfielder Cliff Floyd to their former team, the Montreal Expos, for pitchers Carl Pavano, Justin Wayne, Graeme Lloyd, and Don Levinski and reserve infielders Mike Mordecai and Wilton Guerrero.
The same day they shipped their ace Ryan Dempster to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Juan Encarnacion, infielder Wilton Guerreer and pitcher Ryan Snare.
The Marlins finished 4th in the National League East with a record of 79 wins and 83 loses.
During the offseason, the Marlins acquired pitcher Mike Hampton and center fielder Juan Pierre from the Colorado Rockies for catcher Charles Johnson, outfielder Preston Wilson, infielder Pablo Ozuna and pitcher Vic Darensbourg.
Immediately after securing that deal, the Marlins sent Hampton to the Atlanta Braves for relief pitcher Tim Spooneybarger and minor league pitcher Ryan Baker.
Through those five trades, the Marlins replaced Matt Clement, Antonio Alfonseca, Cliff Floyd, Ryan Dempster, Charles Johnson and Preston Wilson with Dontrelle Willis, Carl Pavano, Juan Encarnacion, Juan Pierre, Tim Spooneybarger and Mike Mordecai.
On paper, those moves may not make any sense. However, include the signing of catcher Ivan Rodriguez, the hiring of manager Jack McKeon, the emergence of Miguel Cabrera, and midseason trades for Ugueth Urbina and Jeff Conine, and the Loria/Samson/Beinfest regime wins a World Series Championship of their own in just their second season.
The Marlins would finish 83-79 for the next two seasons but the additions of pitcher Armando Benitez, Paul Lo Duca, Todd Jones and Carlos Delgado was seen as shrewd moves. Benitez would record a franchise record 47 saves in 51 attempts.
However with much of their 2005 leaving for free agency, it made more sense to cut payroll and start over rather than live in baseball purgatory.
They traded every veteran and Jeffery Loria was labeled by the media as a cheapskate owner for having the youngest team in baseball with a league low $15M payroll going into the 2006 season.
They were expected to win less games than the soon to be champion Miami Heat. Instead those youngsters had an historic season despite finishing 78-84.
The Marlins became first team in the modern baseball era to improve to better than .500 after being as much as 20 games under .500. Also, for the first time in MLB history, four rookies topped double digits in wins: Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez.
On September 6, 2006, Sanchez threw the fourth no-hitter in franchise history, beating Arizona, 2-0, at Dolphin Stadium.
Rookie second baseman Dan Uggla became the first Rule 5 pick to be selected to the All-Star Game in the season in which he was drafted. Rookie shortstop Hanley Ramirez won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, and Joe Girardi was voted N.L. Manager of the Year during his rookie season.
Adding veteran outfielder Luis Gonzalez gave the young Marlins much needed veteran leadership and helped them return to their winning way as they finished above .500 for the first time since 2005.
Adding Jorge Cantu turned out to be a steal when he helped the Marlins set a Major League record by having four infielders reach at least 25 home runs — Hanley Ramirez (33), Dan Uggla (32), Mike Jacobs (32) and Jorge Cantu (29).
That same year however, they traded Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for Burke Badenhop, Dallas Trahern, Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Mike Rabelo and Eulogio de la Cruz.
None of their returns proved to be a difference maker, making the trade one of, if the worst, trades in Marlins history.
Going into last year, the Marlins traded Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves for Omar Infante and a reliever. Infante was a .300 hitter and better fielder than Uggla but wasn’t that hitter when with the Marlins.
Their signing of Javier Vazquez that was shaping up to be like the NAte Robertson acquisition in 2010 until the second half of the season when he became their ace in Josh Johnson’s absence.
This year, the Miami Marlins signed Heath Bell, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle and traded Chris Volstad to the Chicago Cubs for Carlos Zambrano. Anyone is an upgrade over Volstad but Bell turned out to be a complete bust and also the face of a failed 2012 campaign which has the Marlins in last place for the second straight year.
They also traded Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate (who was a solid signing) for a coup of prospects. Two of the major ones are starting pitchers Nathan Eovaldi from the Los Angeles Dodgers, who is 3-2 with a 3.75 ERA, and Jacob Turner from the Tigers, who will be making his Marlins debut this week.
If these two pitchers can be successful, they can help springboard another big offseason for the Marlins brass and possibly be on the rebound in 2013. This regime has seen a lot and deserve every praise and criticism, but for the fans of the Marlins, they’re the best they got.