Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria on Monday night defended the front office’s controversial November trade, urged fans to have patience as the club rebuilds and said he has no plans to sell the team.
“I love this ball club and I like what we’ve done now. It’s a little painful for a lot of people, but, no pain, no gain,’’ he said in his first remarks to South Florida media since trading five front-line players to Toronto.
The Marlins are trying to recover from a public-relations disaster after trading All-Stars Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and two other players. Team executives said the move was necessary because the Marlins lost 93 games and finished last in the NL East in their first season at Marlins Park.
“We didn’t break up the 1927 Yankees,” Loria said in a 23-minute interview at the stadium’s Diamond Club lounge. “We broke up a losing ball club that was going nowhere for two straight years.”
“Frankly, we stunk and it was a disaster. I stood by and I just watched it and finally I spoke to our guys and said, ‘What do we do?’ And these are the suggestions that came forward. We’ve got to start again.’’
The Marlins opened the 2012 season with a $111 million payroll, a spending spree made possible by their new, $515 million ballpark. Although the team drew 2.2 million fans (18th in the majors), Loria said the Marlins still “lost tens of millions of dollars last year.’’
Team president David Samson said the actual turnstile count last year was 1.4 million, about 1 million less than what the Marlins expected. The 2.2 million figure refers to tickets sold, which is the number Major League Baseball uses.
The Marlins will open this season with a payroll of around $40 million, which will rank among the lowest in baseball. (The Houston Astros are expected to have a $30 million payroll.)
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