- Baseball in the Garden of Eden, A Book ReviewPosted 778 days ago
Fish make a big splash…in a shallow pool
- Updated: December 8, 2011
It makes some sort of ironic sense that the biggest splash of baseball’s offseason signing season so far is made by the Fish. The newly crowned Miami Marlins made a big move in reshaping the image of their franchise by stepping up to the plate and landing shortstop Jose Reyes on Sunday night. The Marlins have been no stranger to the headlines this offseason, as they are in the process of reshaping everything from the structure to the look of their club this offseason.
The deal they struck with the National League’s 2011 batting champion was a major statement in a variety of ways. It showed that the annually frugal Marlins are serious about erasing their image as a cost hindered, bottom feeder in a big money NL East. It also shows that no contemporary in place will get in the way of their efforts to rebuild this team, as Reyes bumps their land standing franchise player, Hanley Ramirez, to third base. Finally, it’s the type of power move that shows that the idea of them being full of talk, but not high on action, in their all-inclusive pursuit of nearly every premier name on the market, is indeed legit.
However, there is a second level to this method that has to be observed as well. While Miami’s management has been aggressive in restricting the team and point it in a clear direction to become a competitor, the road to the quick fix could lead for some long-term woes as well, especially in the case of Reyes. For as dynamic as he was this past summer (.337 average, 16 triples, 39 steals), the dark side of the moon that’s followed him for years was still there. He missed time with yet another leg injury, the same issues that have kept him from reaching the 135 game mark since 2008. That’s over a month lost in the best case scenario each year. Not exactly the type of benchmark that you want leading a franchise revival. For a player who’s biggest gift is speed, repeated leg injuries, with also becoming a factor during the course of this deal, there’s a lot of people that say that revisionist history may be set in Miami before October greatness is reached.
This episode has played out many times before. The Chicago Cubs and the boulder that is Alfonso Soriano is a booming example. In the midst of trying to buy their way into a big run into October, the Cubs threw around all sorts of money in a major “win now” scenario, and capped it off with a $136 million pact over eight years with Soriano. But he sunk like a stone, yet still tops the Cubs payroll years after his time as an impact player ended.
There are a ton more cases like this (Adam Dunn, Jayson Werth and Vernon Wells) that show that dropping big checks for big names isn’t always the smart path to becoming relevant. Reyes’ upside is clear; he’s easily one of the top three shortstops in the game…now. But a six year investment goes a lot further than the now and for a team that is looking to become a perennial contender, living in the now could come back to haunt them much later if some strategy isn’t shown in their push to see their name in bright lights on the Major’s marquee.