Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria took out full-page ads in South Florida newspapers Sunday to pen an open letter to fans.
The Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post and South Florida Sun-Sentinel published Loria’s letter, in which he defended the way he has run the team.
Loria covered a variety of topics about the team, including last year’s blockbuster trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, the way Marlins Park was financed and the two World Series championships it has won in its 20-year history.
In November, the Marlins sent shortstop Jose Reyes, starting pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, infielder Emilio Bonifacio and catcher John Buck, and $4-million cash to the Blue Jays. In exchange, the Marlins received shortstop Yunel Escobar, starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, catcher Jeff Mathis, minor league pitchers Justin Nicolino and Anthony Desclafani, and minor league outfielder Jake Marisnick.
It was a cost-cutting move for the Marlins and it replenished their minor-league system.
“The controversial trade we made with the Toronto Blue Jays was approved by Commissioner Bud Selig and has been almost universally celebrated by baseball experts outside of Miami for its value,” Loria wrote. “... Our plan for the year ahead is to leverage our young talent and create a homegrown roster of long-term players who can win. In fact, objective experts have credited us with going from the 28th ranked Minor League system in baseball to the 5th best during this period.”
Loria also defended the financing of Marlins Park.
“The majority of public funding came from hotel taxes, the burden of which is incurred by tourists who are visiting our city, NOT the resident taxpayers,” he wrote. “The Marlins organization also agreed to contribute $161.2-million toward the ballpark, plus the cost of the garage complex. In addition, the Marlins receive no operating subsidy from local government funding. The ballpark required that all debt service is paid by existing revenue.”
The Marlins won World Series titles in 1997 and 2003, but gutted their payroll the following seasons. Despite those championships, the Marlins have not been consistent winners in their 20-year history.
“Amidst the current news coverage, it can be easy to forget how far we went together not so long ago,” Loria wrote. “In 2003, I helped bring a second World Series title to South Florida. We know how to build a winning team, and have every intention of doing so again.”
The Marlins are in rebuilding mode after expectations of contending for a 2012 championship resulted in a disappointing 69-win season.