The Florida Marlins are bad for baseball, and Jeffrey Loria has got to be the worst owner in American sports.
With the recent trade of Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera to Detroit, the Marlins' payroll this year could drop below $15 million. Meanwhile, Loria receives $30 million as part of baseball's revenue sharing plan. If that holds true this year, basically the man could be $15 million in the black before he ever sells a ticket, and all the while the fans are getting screwed.
Florida has some good young players, there's no question about that. But aside from Hanley Ramirez and possibly Dan Uggla, who will the fans recognize now? While I think it's dangerous to tell a team how to operate personnel-wise, I think certain "incentives" could be offered that will encourage Florida to sign a credible name or two.
First, revenue sharing was designed for small-market teams as a way to help them financially while still being able to field a competitive team. But Loria (and perhaps Bob Nutting of the Pirates as well) are using it to line their own pockets. Here are some ideas on how baseball can fix this mess:
1. Require at least 50 percent of any revenue sharing monies to be spent toward payroll, either in free agency or contract extensions. The only exception would be teams who would lose money by doing so, and they would have to prove that through an audit by Major League Baseball.
2. Require each team to have at least one $10 million player or two $5 million players. This virtually guarantees a minimum payroll close to $20 million.
3. Limit revenue sharing to not more than a team's entire payroll. For example, if Loria's payroll is $15 million, that's what he gets in sharing money.
4. "Encourage" Loria to sell the Marlins to a real owner who will put a product on the field that will bring fans to the ballpark. Or at least give him half his money in Astro-Glide so he can distribute it to the fans he's been giving it to since he was with the Expos.
What's really amazing is that MLB will tolerate a robber baron like Loria, but wants nothing to do with Mark Cuban. Sad, sad, sad.