Back at the 2011 Baseball Winter Meetings, the Miami Marlins were truly the stars of the show.
With a new taxpayer-funded stadium ready to open and a roster already featuring young superstars like shortstop Hanley Ramirez and pitcher Josh Johnson, the ownership opened up their normally-riveted-shut wallet and signed a bevy of free agent stars like shortstop Jose Reyes from the New York Mets, pitcher Mark Buehrle from the Chicago White Sox, and reliever Heath Bell from the San Diego Padres. They also brought in oft-quoted manager Ozzie Guillen. The expectation was that a new stadium would bring in lots of new fans and more revenue, and the team would show off these fancy new players that would make the Marlins winners again.
Cut to the 2012 offseason. They’ve already dealt away Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers. They had dealt away Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers. Heath Bell was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team fired Ozzie Guillen.
And now yesterday’s trade – sending Reyes, Buehrle, Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Sadly, this activity is all-too-familiar with the Marlins franchise. The team won World Series championships in 1997 and 2003, each team built with high-priced free agents and shortly thereafter those expensive players were dealt away for scrap and prospects.
The first principle of The Toyota Way is “Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.”
What’s obvious is that the Marlins do not have a long-term philosophy. They have no plan.
The real folks who get screwed in this deal? The residents of Miami, forced to bear the tax burden of this stadium where no superstars play (aside from Giancarlo Stanton, who himself is not pleased about the trade) and no fans want to buy tickets.
While it’s true that businesses go through peaks and valleys with performance, typically it’s a result of economic conditions and not because of self-inflicted wounds. Poor management philosophies with traditional businesses make those businesses go extinct. In baseball, as with the Miami Marlins, they just milk the system and eventually reload.