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Baseball America: "Lessons from Past Rebuilds"... 2005 Marlins


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Former GM Larry Beinfest with some perspective on the 2005 fire sale/rebuild and how it almost worked even though it never resulted in a playoff appearance...




3. Be Prepared To Acquire A Final Veteran Piece When You’re Ready To Compete 


The 2005 Marlins


The Marlins kept their championship core in place after their 2003 World Series title and even added to it, bringing in marquee veterans like Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca and recording back-to-back winning seasons in 2004-05.


But ownership ordered general manager Larry Beinfest to slash payroll after the 2005 season, and that fall the Marlins traded Delgado, Lo Duca, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Luis Castillo, Juan Pierre and Guillermo Mota, and they let A.J. Burnett and Juan Encarnacion leave as free agents.


“A lot of the decision was made for us,” said Beinfest, the Marlins’ GM from 2002-07 and president of baseball operations until 2013. “We had to kind of readjust our payroll severely, and also kind of reinvest our inventory and try to rebuild again.”


Unlike some other clubs whose rebuilds went awry, the Marlins largely hit on their prospect return, grabbing Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit, Renyel Pinto and others who became major leaguers of note.


But it wasn’t enough. In the 12 seasons since the selloff, the Marlins have zero playoff appearances.


“If you’re black and white, if it worked or didn’t work, we never made the playoffs again after ’03, so you can characterize it that it didn’t work,” Beinfest said. “But at the same time our ’06 team had a $15 million payroll and won (78) games. I guess the best way to couch the Marlins and my experience was we found a way to be competitive, even through all the revenue challenges, which translated into payroll, the number of trades we had to make, et cetera. We found a way to stay competitive.”


Indeed they did. Even after trading franchise icons Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis in 2007, the Marlins won 84 games in 2008 and were in the thick of the playoff race with an 87-75 record in 2009, largely on the backs of players acquired in the post-2005 selloff and a few other shrewd pickups, notably Rule 5 pick Dan Uggla.


But adding a key veteran or two is the finishing touch on a rebuild and a signature characteristic of all successful ones. For Beinfest, the Marlins’ inability to do that was a decisive factor in them missing a chance at the playoffs during their competitive window.


“I think if we were able to add maybe a veteran pitcher or a piece there—just something—then I think that team maybe could have gotten to the postseason,” Beinfest said. “It was very close as it was.”





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