jonnylons Posted December 11, 2003 Share Posted December 11, 2003 Here is an article from Palm Beach Post, read and consider: Sunday, December 7 Were Marlins serious about keeping Pudge? By Joe Capozzi, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Mike Lowell, a genuinely likable guy with strong ties to Miami, is blossoming into quite a commodity for the Florida Marlins. You might call the All-Star third baseman and unofficial clubhouse leader the king or prince of the team. "Pawn" might be a better word after watching the front office at work last week. On Tuesday, the Marlins announced they had made a contract offer to catcher Pudge Rodriguez, the MVP of the National League Championship Series who signed a one-year deal with Florida in January. On Wednesday, the Marlins signed Lowell to a "stadium-sensitive" contract worth a potential $32 million for four years. His contract is guaranteed for next season, but the rest of it kicks in only if the team wins financial support by Nov. 1, 2004, for a new stadium. Marlins President David Samson said the team will know during spring training whether it will get a ballpark. That's because the Miami-Dade County Commission set March 15 as a deadline for the team to secure the final $115 million it needs, presumably from the state or the city of Miami, for ballpark construction. If the team fails to find that money, the commission will withdraw its $73 million pledge for the stadium. "There is no Mike Lowell without a stadium,'' Samson said, before denying that Lowell was being dangled to help win public support for the stadium. Back up a day to Tuesday, when the Marlins made the offer to Rodriguez. They could have extended an offer earlier in the off-season. Instead, they waited more than five weeks, doing so only five days before a negotiating deadline that expires at 11:59 tonight. Now, consider that Lowell is in his final year of arbitration. The Marlins didn't have to worry about his contract until Jan. 5-15, the filing period for salary arbitration. Instead, the team paraded Lowell in front of TV cameras last week while owner Jeffrey Loria said, "Good things happen to good people.'' That same day, the team also said it reached a deal to re-sign free-agent second baseman Luis Castillo. That made it a two-run public-relations home run -- two key components of the infield in one day. The Marlins certainly hope -- or perhaps this was part of their plan -- that the goodwill from the Lowell deal will linger through Monday morning to neutralize what will be a public-relations strikeout if headlines across South Florida trumpet the departure of Rodriguez. Hey, the Marlins will tell the public, we gave our best good-faith offer to Pudge within our operating parameters, but at least Lowell and Castillo are coming back. Imagine if the Marlins hadn't yet signed Lowell and Castillo, then had to announce that Rodriguez wouldn't be back. Ouch. To the club's credit, it's a slick PR move, but it also raises the question of whether the Marlins, facing a payroll cap of $60 million, seriously wanted Rodriguez to return. Rodriguez asked for a four-year deal similar to Lowell's. He said he didn't want more than the $10 million a year he got in January. He even offered to back-load the deal. But he certainly didn't think he deserved a pay cut. The Marlins wouldn't budge from their two-year offer in the $15 million to $16 million range. If Rodriguez is gone, they can use that money on relief pitching or maybe toward a long-term deal for shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who is eligible for arbitration. Yes, Rodriguez is 32, an age when catchers historically begin to break down. But there's a valid argument that the Marlins, while getting key contributions all season from throughout their roster, would not have won the World Series without Rodriguez. Can they defend it without him and first baseman Derrek Lee, the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters? That's a question to ponder on opening day when the World Series flag is raised over Pro Player Stadium, and Rodriguez isn't among the Marlins standing along the first-base line. My thoughts are similar here. I think this article is slanted towards a negative Loria bias (it amazes me that such sentiment can still linger), but there is some truth to it. Let me get to it: to me, it seems the Marlins never intended on re-signing Fudge, that they went through the motions because they had to and felt obligated to do so. Fudge, on the other hand, had no intentions of re-signing with the Marlins - thus the no arbitration clause in his contract last offseason. Why? I think the Marlins wanted to free up the money (budgeted at that point for Fudge) in order to land a bigger fish. Call me crazy, and you will, but I think we see this plan coming to fruition in the next week. Just a hunch... Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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