Marlins’ latest fire sale feels like fraud

AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File

One year ago, I was extremely worried about the Miami Marlins.

As a Braves fan, I saw what the Marlins were doing. They were preparing to open a new stadium, and they were spending money indiscriminately. They landed players like Jose Reyes and Heath Bell, and they nearly got Albert Pujols as well. I didn’t need the Marlins to be good, because I already had to worry about the Philadelphia Phillies and the rising Washington Nationals.

It seemed like the Marlins were building for long-term success. Until they started selling off the team … again.

This time, it seems hardly legal.

It started in July. They shipped names like Omar Infante, Anibal Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez, Gaby Sanchez and Edward Mujica to a slew of teams. Some of them became playoff contenders, some of them not. But it was clear a greater plan was set in motion that Miami fans weren’t going to like.

But on Tuesday evening, the Marlins completed the fire sale, sending Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck and Mark Buehrle to the Toronto Blue Jays as part of a 12-player deal. The trade all but ensures the Marlins won’t be good — nay, relevant — for years. Sure, there’s a small chance it pays off with a World Series title down the road when all of the prospects mature into decent baseball players, but this is a different situation than the last couple of similar championship runs.

This time, owner Jeffrey Loria ran up a $2.4 billion check and left the citizens of Miami with the bill. Now, that beautiful, all-white-everything stadium they built in the middle of Little Havana will be more than a graveyard of the Orange Bowl.

It’s now a graveyard of Marlins Baseball.

Isn’t this a case of bait-and-switch? Loria pulled the fans in by promising them shiny objects that would hit 50 homers, or bat .350, or win 20 games in a Miami uniform. He told the city they needed this new stadium because this franchise was going to get serious. He perpetuated the lie by going after those stars nobody fathomed could ever end up in Miami.

Then, he pulled out the rug from under them. And sold the rug.

It’s a joke, but it isn’t funny to a lot of people in the city saddled with Loria’s debt. He owes them an explanation and a winning team.

It doesn’t look like they’ll be getting either any time soon.

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