Last week, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan penned an article titled "Free Giancarlo Stanton: Why the Marlins Need to Trade Baseball's Home Run King." In that piece, Passan fired off reasons why every single day that passes is a wasted opportunity to trade Stanton, even while he chases the unofficial-wink-wink real home-run record of 61 dingers in a season. Passan explained, quite convincingly, why the Marlins dumping Stanton and the $295 million remaining on his contract make not only business but also baseball sense.
Passan went into great detail in an attempt to make the case why the Marlins, on the cusp of new ownership, must hit the reset button on their franchise as soon as possible.
Well, Passan is right: Derek Jeter and the new ownership group need to hit the reset button on the Marlins franchise. They need to start over. They need to have a fire sale that includes dumping salary in exchange for younger, cheaper talent.
Passan is wrong, though, in thinking Stanton should be part of the flushing. Stanton should be the weight-bearing beam that holds the entire thing together.
Stanton hit his 45th home run yesterday, leaving him just 16 dingers shy of the magic number of 61 that Roger Maris smacked in 1961. How can the Marlins trade him? Now? This winter, after his greatest season as a Marlin? It makes no sense. Marlins fans deserve better.
If the team's new ownership does one thing before it takes over, it should take a look at the history of the Marlins and do its best not to repeat. Trading away a once-in-a-generation power hitter in the name of pinching pennies backfired in spectacular fashion when the Marlins dealt Miguel Cabrera to the Detroit Tigers in 2007. A decade and 321 home runs later, Cabrera is still a productive player for the Tigers, and all the top-flight players the Marlins netted in the trade are either out of MLB or play for other baseball teams.
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In the end, the Marlins traded away not only Cabrera but also thousands of fans in 2007. The new owners must realize the Fish were lucky enough to be blessed with a second once-in-a-generation slugger. They must realize their fan base can't survive another botched attempt at turning one Hall of Fame player in his prime into six.
If the new owners want to make a great first impression in South Florida and possibly win back some of the fans Jeffrey Loria and his greed ran off, telling everyone Giancarlo Stanton isn't going anywhere would be a great start. Marlins fans would believe the front office is doing everything in its power to field a formidable team while at the same time building for the future. You can do both at the same time. If the Marlins choose to tear everything down again, they shouldn't be surprised when there is no one left to care about the team when it is finally rebuilt.
Marlins fans want to embrace the future but are wary of yet another rebuild. The Miami Heat rebuilt its franchise not once, but twice around Dwyane Wade in a salary-capped sport. The Marlins can figure out how to make the numbers work. A new TV deal is on the horizon. The ejection of Loria will inject some energy into the fan base, which should translate to more ticket sales. If the new owners can't afford to pay Stanton, what are they doing shelling out more than $1 billion for an MLB team in the first place?
There are very few Marlins fans left. If Jeter and the other new owners want to ensure they keep the ones left and work on adding new ones, hanging onto the best power hitter in the sport would be a logical place to start.