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Marlins' test: Will they trade Lowell?

Wild Card

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In what may be a contradiction, this article is some sort of sinister optimism... I guess?

Posted on Tue, Jun. 24, 2003

Marlins' test: Will they trade Lowell?

Greg Cote

Trading Mike Lowell undeniably makes easy financial sense for the Marlins. It would be a smart and defensible move if management's sole obligation was to impress a roomful of accountants, downsize-minded consultants and baseball actuaries.

Now let's deal with reality.

Trading Lowell -- which the Marlins will do during the upcoming All-Star break if foregone conclusion is to be trusted -- would jam brakes on the team's promising momentum and be all the reason so many wavering fans need to give up on the franchise altogether, for good and good-riddance.

It would be close to symbolic suicide. It would make a lie of the smiles and promises and feel-good ad campaign aimed at getting local fans ``back in the game.''

Lowell's fate is the new litmus test for the people running this franchise.

The Yankees and Dodgers and plenty of other teams covet Lowell. Monday, interest in the third baseman by the Cubs was said to intensify.

But what about interest by the Marlins?

When will Florida's roster stop being an annual crop that other teams pick?

There is no inbetween on this test. It is pass/fail.

Either Jeffrey Loria will be different. . . .

Or he'll be just another owner courting fans with mock sincerity while selling away fan favorites in the name of salary dumping.

Either the Marlins will find a way to keep Lowell, in a huge gesture of commitment that will hit home with fans who have been slapped around too long. . . .

Or the Marlins will do the usual: trade away and then explain away. Try to make you believe there was no choice but to get rid of the team's most popular player, a truly local hero who happens to lead the majors in home runs.

Here is a quick, preemptive strike on behalf of fans:

We're not buying it. Not this time. Not again.

The dismantling and auctioning off of the 1997 World Series champions was an earthquake from which this franchise still has not recovered. Because of it, former owner Wayne Huizenga always will be seen as a villain by many.

Then, a year ago, another seismic jolt. Cliff Floyd and Preston Wilson suddenly were traded to cut payroll. Out too: Ryan Dempster, Kevin Millar, Charles Johnson. . . .

Not again.

You cannot run a franchise like that -- at least not one in this market. You cannot go on with a spate of one-year contracts, continually starting over and re-re-rebuilding, forever asking fans for patience without payoff.

Trading Lowell, 29, is avoidable, with a little creativity and a lot of willingness on the part of Loria to understand why keeping him is so important.

Management must build up broad goodwill if ever it expects to realize a new stadium, and that cannot be done without sufficient spending for a winning team, without creating stability by keeping core players together.

And now is the time, with the Marlins enjoying a nice bounce, a spike in interest.

They are a surging 22-17 since changing managers, and high-kicking, fire-balling, media-charming, fan-wowing rookie pitcher Dontrelle Willis, with a 7-1 record, has arrived about as subtly as Enrique Iglesias at a quince.

Crowds are growing by degrees, in number and enthusiasm. Local TV ratings are encouraging, suggesting burgeoning interest in the Marlins apart from the live gate.

Keeping Lowell, letting the July 31 trade deadline pass without another fire sale, would fan momentum and be proof, not palaver, that maybe things are different now.

The Marlins might need to lose a player they'd rather not -- such as Luis Castillo, Derrek Lee or A.J. Burnett -- to keep Lowell, but so be it. You build your lineup and your team and your fans' faith around this man.

The Marlins would need to develop premier third-base prospect Miguel Cabrera as a permanent left fielder, but so be that as well. If Manny Ram?rez can handle left at Fenway Park, where the wall plays like a set from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, young Cabrera can surely adjust to the Marlins' more geometrically friendly left -- especially with fleet Juan Pierre lending aid from center.

Management has a chance, with Mike Lowell, to demonstrate to fans a commitment to the club's future.

And that's the thing about commitment.

You need to show it before you have the right to ask for it in return.
 

Wild Card

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I hope Loria/Bienfest/Samson read this.

No doubt in my mind they did...

GREAT article...
 

Fish Fillet

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Are you sure this came from the Herald? Did they put something in the water there?

This would of been the last place I thought the rallying cry on behalf of fan interest would have come from. Maybe as the trade deadline gets closer more and more of the media will take up the cause, but whether that is a good or bad thing, dunno.
 

Teal Shadow

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show me the money!!great article by Cote This part is what I think management is thinking about " The Marlins might need to lose a player they'd rather not -- such as Luis Castillo, Derrek Lee or A.J. Burnett -- to keep Lowell, but so be it. You build your lineup and your team and your fans' faith around this man." It will depend on what they get in return... I have faith :)
 

Wild Card

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This team is starting to get positive national attention. If they keep winning, they will only get more. The locals are taking notice. The fans are definately taking notice of Dontrelle, which means they're seeing we're winning.

Positive attention is what we need most, and we're now getting it.

If we get out of the stretch against Boston, Atlanta, Philly, Chicago, Montreal with a record at or above . 500, this team is serious, and they'll know that. If it's serious, no moves will be made.
 

Arnie1941

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Not a Herald reader, so appreciated the article you shared. Hope it's not just wishful thinking, but I sense enough ground-swell that will actually reach Management's myopic attention.
 

Ramp

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gotta appreciate the positivity from the herald
 

geemoney

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I can't recall any negative articles from Cote....doesn't LeBatard do most of the spewing?
 

CapeFish

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OMG, the bodysnatchers have taken over the Herald Newsroom in Pembroke Pines! Run for your lives and watch out as you go to sleep! :unsure :
 

CapeFish

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I think management is going to keep him. I think they are doing this to see if he will keep up his numbers for the rest of this year. I think they will give him the 4 year contract that he is rumored to want.
 

AJBurnett34

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Yea we need to keep him for several Reasons. One, he is our Run Producer and two Because we are playing great and by trading him i think we will start playing bad. Remeber what happened when they traded Floyd? The whole Team Broke down Mentally...we need to keep him!
 

CapeFish

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We need to continue to play good and the rest will take care of itself. I think Beinfest will deal Castillo and Lee for more arms and bats for our WC push and to lower the payroll. Banks could play 1B and Fox could play 2B if we don't get anyone to fill those postions through the trades.
 

Wild Card

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I don't see Lee leaving at the break, because he is a big bat that always has a strong second half.

I do however see Castillo going, possibly for pitching...
 

AJBurnett34

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Here is another Article about Lowell ( I dont want to put another topic about Lowell!)

Hendry cautious in search of offense


Dontrelle Willis is a 21-year-old left-hander for the Florida Marlins who was unknown to most Cubs fans only a month ago.

But Willis' sudden success after being called up to the big leagues could have a huge effect on the Cubs' chances of acquiring Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell, who has another year left on his contract before he becomes eligible for free agency.

While the Cubs try to get their offense on track during the upcoming home series against the lowly Milwaukee Brewers before they head to U.S. Cellular Field for three more games against the White Sox, general manager Jim Hendry has to be plotting his next move.

But will Willis' success make him gun-shy?

Willis, a Cubs eighth-round draft pick in 2000, has six straight victories for the Marlins, including a one-hitter against the Mets. With a 2.38 earned-run average and an engaging personality, Willis may be the most popular Marlins player since they disbanded their World Series champs after the 1997 season.

Who would have guessed? Willis had an 8-2 record at Class A Boise in 2001 before the Cubs dealt him to the Marlins during spring training of 2002 in the six-player deal that brought closer Antonio Alfonseca and starter Matt Clement to Chicago. Hendry was assistant general manager to Andy MacPhail at the time, but he was the one who engineered the deal with the organization for which he once worked.

It seemed like a perfect deal for both sides. The Cubs, who were expected to compete for a playoff spot, needed a closer after Tom Gordon went down with a shoulder injury. The Marlins were looking to dump salary and beef up their farm system.

Though Alfonseca struggled in his first year as a Cub, Clement's career-best season?12-11 with a 3.60 ERA and 215 strikeouts in 205 innings?made the deal look like a steal for Hendry.

But trades involving prospects often can't be assessed fairly for years, and now the phenomenal rise of Willis has some Cubs fans wondering how the organization let such a promising young left-hander get away.

Of course, no one asks how 29 other teams passed on Willis in the draft for the first seven rounds, or why no other major-league team inquired about Willis when he was an anonymous Class A pitcher.

Drafting and developing young pitching talent is an inexact science. The Mark Priors of the game are the exceptions to the rule. A scout may be able to gauge the speed of his fastball with the help of a radar gun, but he can't judge the size of his heart or know if he has what it takes to succeed.

Willis apparently fooled a lot of people, and the Marlins are now reaping the rewards. Meanwhile, Hendry is in a Catch-22 of sorts.

The Cubs have scored four or fewer runs in 15 of their 20 games in June, going 10-10 to fall out of first place in the NL Central. Hendry's primary task in the next month is to address the Cubs' offensive woes, but Willis' sensational start has complicated that job.

Pursuing Lowell, the NL leader in home runs, would be a popular move to try to solve the problem at third base. But can Hendry afford to give up the next Dontrelle Willis, whether it's Angel Guzman, Andrew Sisco, Bobby Brownlie, Jae Kuk Ryu or any of the Cubs' other top pitching prospects?

Moreover, the Marlins are only one game below .500. Thanks in no small part to Willis, they're 22-17 under new manager Jack McKeon, or one game better than the Cubs' 21-18 record over their last 39 games. Starter Josh Beckett is due back from the disabled list soon, and while a division title is unlikely, a wild-card run is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Florida has brought up Lowell's heir-apparent, 20-year-old third baseman Miguel Cabrera, from Double-A Portland. They inserted Cabrera in left field, where he has no experience but figures to play until they unload Lowell. Described as a can't-miss prospect, Cabrera became the third player in history to hit a game-ending home run in his major-league debut Friday.

At the very least, the Marlins can wait until the July 31 trading deadline approaches to see where they stand before putting Lowell on the market. The Cubs may have the first shot at him, but that doesn't mean they can't be outbid by the Dodgers, whose hitting is even weaker than the Cubs'.

If the Marlins can take the financial hit, they could keep Lowell for one more season. With talent like Willis, Cabrera, shortstop Alex Gonzalez and center fielder Juan Pierre, they probably could afford to trade second baseman Luis Castillo for prospects and see if the team is strong enough to become a contender in 2004.

If that doesn't work, they can unload Lowell at the trading deadline next year, when his value presumably would be even higher.

All Hendry can do is wait and hope Lowell becomes available and he wouldn't have to give up the farm to get him.

The Cubs have the opportunity to have a special season, something that doesn't happen often. But the glaring lack of offense is preventing them from going on a prolonged winning streak, making them look more and more like a .500 team.

Hendry is in the hot seat, and the summer is just starting to heat up.
Copyright ? 2003, The Chicago Tribune

c/o: Chicago Sports
 

CapeFish

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Disclaimer: The Chicago Tribune is owned by the Tribune Company which owns the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, WB39, the Orlando Sentinel and the Chicago Cubs. So beware of this company's reporting because it may be slanted.
 

Wild Card

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Great article...

I agree with what he said, too. If we can just take the salary hit this year, and only trade Castillo, I think we would DEFINATELY be contenders next season, with a lack of TORBORG, to start the season off well.

Again, it doesn't express any favortism. It explains both sides very, very well and gives great arguements...

This may be the biggest paradox the franchise has ever had.
 

Marlins2003

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I still say the FO has no reason to trade or sign him now when he's going to be here for at least one more year anyways. Let's see what he does in the second half, its too early to tell if this is an aberration or not. This is almost a freebie for them, his salary is set for this season, his salary will be arbitration-driven next. If he does well, he'll be upwards of $7+ million, if his stats fall off in the second half he gets less and the Marlins have a more realistic chance of signing him to a multi-year deal.

The whole reason behind today's Herald column was to set up a straw man, to say if the FO doesn't sign the guy and sign him now, then YOU THE BASEBALL FAN OF SOUTH FLORIDA are being cheated. Veiled as it is as a rah rah! kind of column, it is just more loathing of the FO, another reason for south florida fans not connect with the team. The Herald is saying" don't support this team UNTIL they sign Lowell".

This is Cliff Floyd all over again. This time last year we were being told how disreputable and cheap the FO was for not signing Cliffie to multi-years for a sum that ranged from $10 - 14 million.

This is a media (in this case the Herald) strategy to continue to demean the Marlins ownership and FO. Nothing more, nothing less.

Don't fall for it. The Marlins can have their cake and eat it too. They have the entire post season/preseason 2004 to sign the guy. Lowell doesn't want to leave south florida, and the Marlins don't want him to leave. There's a deal to be made here but it won't be made the way the Herald suggests or when the Herald suggests.

I may wind up with mud on my face but I for one believe that Lowell will not be traded this season unless we totally come apart before the July 31st deadline. Sweeping, or at least taking 2 of 3 from the Mets is absolutely critical right now. If Lowell can lead this team to the playoffs or close, he and the Marlins will come to an agreement quickly and painlessly.
 

Wild Card

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If he does well, he'll be upwards of $7+ million, if his stats fall off in the second half he gets less and the Marlins have a more realistic chance of signing him to a multi-year deal.
I like your thinking, you bold evil man!!! :w00t :thumbup

I agree 100% with what you just said. Couldn't have explained it better myself. Truth is, I'm too lazy to write all that, so kudos!
 

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