Samson discusses pending trade on radio
MIAMI — The blockbuster trade has not yet been made official, but Marlins president David Samson spoke about the pending deal with the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
During a taped interview with Dan LeBatard on 790 The Ticket, Samson noted that the Marlins’ last-place, 69-93 record, triggered management’s decision to overhaul the roster.
Miami is sending Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to Toronto in exchange for seven players, including Yunel Escobar.
In the interview, which lasted about 20 minutes, Samson said: “We sat down after the season and talked about the team and said, ‘We cannot keep finishing in last place. It doesn’t make sense.’ We lost 93 games, and we entrusted all of our scouts and development people and upper-level baseball people and said, ‘What can we do to possibly start this to turn around? What needs to happen? How can it work?
“All sorts of different plans were possible. It just so happens that we found a way to possibly in one fell swoop get a whole lot better, and get on the road to getting better.”
Samson noted that in terms of name-recognition, the Marlins parted with four players who have been All-Stars in the past. In return, they are getting many talented, but untested big league players.
“I actually recognize, names coming back in the potential trade are names people are not familiar with,” Samson said. “But in the baseball world, people are familiar with them.
“As far as I’m concerned, what I really hope will happen and what we plan on happening is winning more games. Each year, starting to win more games. That’s what we want to do.”
Samson has a weekly segment on 790 The Ticket, and throughout the Marlins’ rough season, fans repeatedly vented their displeasure with the last-place team.
“I was just thinking about some of the calls we had during the season, when the team wasn’t playing well, and we were losing all those games,” Samson said. “I remember very well that our fans spoke to us, and they said they were not happy with what we are doing, and what the team was doing.
“We said, ‘What can we do? Where can we start, and what kind of flexibility do we need going forwards?’ We, meaning the baseball guys, starting talking around, and all of a sudden something possibly came to fruition.”
For all the high expectations the Marlins had when they hired manager Ozzie Guillen, and signed high-priced free agents, the Marlins endured one of their worst years in club history.
“To lose 93 games was the most embarrassing thing,” Samson said. “Far more embarrassing than this. Putting together a team in 2012 that we expected to win. The fact that they didn’t, that was the most embarrassing.”
Guillen was dismissed last month and replaced by Mike Redmond.
“I think that when we made the managerial decision, and when we made the player decisions we made last year, we could not have dreamt that our season would have ended that way,” Samson said.
Miami’s payroll was around $100 million in 2012, and it projects to be dramatically lower in ’13.
Pressed on payroll, Samson said he wasn’t sure of the range for the upcoming season, but the club has added flexibility after removing nearly $160 million in base salary commitments.
“I’m not sure what range the payroll will end up at, but I know we will have the players in place, and, hopefully, we will do better than last year,” Samson said. “That’s what it’s about. We tried the higher payroll and ended up losing more games. So whatever the payroll is, the real important part is having better players.”
Samson added that team owner Jeffrey Loria made a substantial financial commitment to the new ballpark.
“Let’s not forget how much money Jeffrey Loria himself put in, over $160 million of his money to get a ballpark built, which has been a very positive thing and will continue to be long after all of us are gone,” Samson said.
It’s unclear how active the Marlins will be on the free agent market. More important than dollars they spend, they are focusing on making better choices.
“We spent it wrong,” Samson said. “It showed with everything off the field and on the field. I don’t blame more fans for not coming out because who wants to see 93 losses? The fact is we think we have a young team now that may be hungrier and should win more.”
— Joe Frisaro