Originally Posted by improbus
Loria's big mistake was abandoning their typical business model and investing a bunch of money on big name free agents. I understand why he did it. He was trying to follow the Miami Heat model by bringing in big names. But, baseball just doesn't work that way. No one player has that kind of pull (unless they are doing something absolutely historic).
You are correct that some of their signings were dumb or high-risk at best. But you seem to want to imply that his business model wasn't mistaken to begin with. And that depends on what you see as acceptable motives.
Building the value of your franchise fiscally, or building a competitive product for your fans that they are proud to get behind. And to what degree you do each.
What is Loria and Marlins management supposed to think when they are 31-23, coming home from a successful road trip, and there are 8,000 empty seats? They drew the smallest crowd ever for a first year stadium in the new stadium era.
Loria and his executive team more than all people knew what the precedent for attendance should have been. People who have achieved his level of business success don't make these decisions without running business case simulations and Monte Carlos to understand what they are getting into.
For a new stadium, Marlins Park was very small from a capacity standpoint. (third-smallest stadium in baseballl by official capacity, and the smallest by actual capacity
) They didn't build it that way by happenstance. Yeah' the Marlins were close to 20th in the league for total attendance last year, but they were also about 10th
in the league for he percentage of the stadium that was occupied. To expect Miami to become a baseball hotbed overnight when it never has been would have been foolish. And I give Loria more begrudged credit than to think he expected that to change in the course of one off-season, whether they were towing lines about 3,000,000 total attendance or not.
If you are going to make the commitment to your city that you're bringing in players to help win, either honor that commitment come ran or shine, or don't be surprised when people are historically betrayed by your actions
I don't mean to sound like I'm wearing a tin foil hat or overly cynical, but what we saw over the last five years were calculated moves made to make money. Not to field a competitive team or build a relationship with fans. This is not to imply mere ownership of a team isn't profitable to begin with in most cases. But that the sole pursuit of this profit is greatly more important than filling a tacit obligation to fans to not run a point of civic pride into the ground for personal gain.
Do you think free agents are going to go to Miami ever again? Or that teams will have reasonable flexibility with trades going forward? Pujols might have been the smartest guy in baseball last off-season to have smelled the rotten core of Loria's plans when he wouldn't offer trade protection to any of the free agents he brought in.
Even if Loria overextended or muffed on his decision making the last few years, he basically used any credibility the team had with its city as his get out of jail free card. Was not taking your probably deserved lumps for one year on an investment that has made $300 million (franchise value) since you bought it worth destroying baseball in a city, perhaps irreparably?
I guess that's where there is room for disagreement.