In case you weren’t around yesterday Marlins owner Jeff Loria published a full page “Letter to our fans” in the Miami papers, purporting to explain the Marlins’ controversial and exceedingly unpopular moves since last year. The full text of it can be seen at our post on it yesterday.
I just got a chance to read it and noticed something. Despite saying “the buck stops with me” and “I take my share of the blame where it’s due,” he is pretty clear in his letter that the buck hasn’t gotten to him yet and that any blame to him is not due. Indeed, Loria believes that he is in no way to blame for the state of the Marlins and the fans’ unhappiness with the franchise.
Here is a list of the people Loria believes to be responsible for where things currently stand, in order as they are mentioned in the letter:
- Anyone who does not believe the trade with the Blue Jays was a good idea because it was “universally celebrated by baseball experts outside of Miami for its value.”
- Every member of last year’s roster, all of which Loria says “underperformed as compared to their career numbers.”
- “naysayers who are currently skeptical”
- People who are “reporting negatively” and making “negative accusations” on the ballpark and its funding.
- “Those who have attacked us.”
- People who are “attacking the County’s method of financing” for the ballpark;
- “columnists” who have “decried” the trade;
- “We” meaning the team, for not communicating well with the fans. This is a superficial stab at responsibility, but the tone and placement of it is clearly that of a person who thinks they’re always right saying “I guess I’m not being clear, because you still don’t understand that I am right.” If Loria did want to take responsibility for the poor communication he would mention the fact that he has given no interviews and made no statements at all since last season ended and until this letter was published. He has also apparently forbidden team officials from talking to the media too. Yes, Jeff, “we” could do better with communication.
- He would, however, like to remind us that he helped bring the 2003 World Series championship to Miami. I guess when the team plays poorly it’s on the roster, when they don’t it’s on him.
Give Loria this much credit: he’s honest. He does not believe he is in anyway responsible for what’s happened to this team, so he will not pretend to be responsible or sorry for it. I suppose in some strange, awful world there is something noble to that. Problem is, no one besides him believes it, so I don’t think the letter is going to do a thing for him or the team.
This is not a terribly big deal compared to the rumors of who the Marlins want to hire as their hitting coach, but it’s news all the same: Miami has hired Juan Nieves as their pitching coach.
Nieves replaces Chuck Hernandez who was let go immediately after the season ended. Under Hernandez Marlins pitchers allowed 4.19 runs a game and had an ERA of 4.02, striking out 1152 batters and walking 508 in 1,427 innings. As far as runs per game go, that was around middle of the pack in the National League, just a hair better than league average. The strikeout/walk ratio, however, was third to last in the NL.
Nieves, a former Brewers hurler who once tossed a no-hitter, was most recently the Red Sox’ pitching coach, serving from the beginning of the 2013 season until his dismissal in May of this year.
“Second place is first loser” — some jerk, probably.
The funny thing about “winning is everything” culture in sports is that it’s revered, primarily, by people with the least amount of skin in the game. Self-proclaimed “Super Fans” and talk radio hosts and guys like that. People who may claim to live and breathe sports but who, for the most part, have other things in their lives. Jobs and families and hobbies and stuff. Winning is everything for them on the weekend at, like, Buffalo Wild Wings or in their man cave.
Athletes — whose actual job is to play sports — like to win too. They’re certainly more focused and committed to winning than Joe Super Fan is, what with it being their actual lives and such. But you see far less “winning is everything” sentiment from them. In interviews they talk about how they hate to lose but, with a little bit of distance, they almost always talk about appreciating efforts in a well-played loss. They rarely talk about big losses — even championship losses — as failures or choke jobs or disgraces of one stripe or another.
All of which makes this story by Tim Rohan in the New York Times fun and interesting. It’s about championship rings for the non-championship winners. The 2014 Royals — winners of the A.L. pennant but losers of the World Series — are featured, and the story of rings for World Series losers is told. Mike Stanton, who played on a ton of pennant and World Series-winning teams with the Yankees and Braves, talks about his various rings and how, even though the Braves lost in the World Series that year, 1991 is his favorite.
Also mentioned: George Steinbrenner’s thoughts about rings for World Series losers. You will likely not be surprised about his sentiments on the matter.
For the next day and a half you’ll hear a lot about the non-tender deadline and/or players being tendered or not tendered a contract. Here, in case you’re unaware, is what that means.
By midnight on Wednesday teams have to decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. If they do, the team retains control over the player. Now, to be clear, the team is not simply “tendering” the player the actual contract specifying what he’ll be paid. Think of it as more of a token gesture — a placeholder contract — at that point the team and the player can negotiate salary for 2016 and, if they can’t come to an agreement over that (i.e. an agreement avoiding arbitration) they will proceed to submit proposed salaries to one another and have a salary arbitration early in the spring.
If the team non-tenders a player, however, that player immediately becomes a free agent, eligible to sign anywhere with no strings attached.
Basically, the calculus is whether or not the team thinks the player in question is worth the low end of what he might receive in arbitration. Or, put differently, if the guy isn’t worth what he made in 2015, he’s probably going to be non-tendered.
MLB Trade Rumors has a handy “Non-Tender Tracker” which lists the status of the couple hundred arbitration eligible players and whether or not they’ve been tendered a contract. We’ll, of course, make mention of notable non-tender guys as their status for 2016 becomes known over the next day or two.
New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.
Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.
The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.