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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Can't blame Marlins for making blockbuster trade

Justice: Can't blame Marlins for making trade

Can't blame Marlins for making blockbuster trade play video for Can't blame Marlins for making blockbuster trade
OK, slow down. Cool it on the outrage. What exactly are the Marlins blowing up? Weren't they a last-place team?

The Marlins lost 93 games. They were 24th in runs and 21st in ERA. Even after a $200 million offseason spending spree, they weren't close to being a good baseball team.

Did anyone envision Miami making the playoffs in 2013 even with Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, etc.?

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No.

Besides, this trade might look a lot different a year or two from now. From a baseball standpoint, it's perfectly defensible.

The Marlins took some chances last offseason, and those chances didn't work out. Once they realized they'd put a bad mix together, they began trying to change it.

What were they supposed to do? Refuse to admit a mistake? Go on another $200 million shopping trip?

If you want to rip the Marlins, you can argue they should have kept the band together and added to the original roster. Once they dealt away Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante during the season, they'd taken a giant step toward rebuilding.

Again, if you want to second-guess the Marlins, do it here. If you thought they were on the verge of being really good before trading Ramirez, raise your hand.

No hands in the air, right?

So they followed the Billy Beane model. He's one of the few executives in baseball who has had the guts to look at his roster and see it as it actually is instead of how he'd like it to be.

Beane has been ripped through the years for getting rid of guys too quickly. On the other hand, his A's have been to the playoffs six times despite having one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.

The Marlins are dumping a massive amount of salary, around $164 million in all, and this isn't sitting well with some people, because it comes seven months after the opening of that new ballpark that was supposed to allow them to spend enough to at least compete with the mid-revenue teams.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is taking heat for cutting payroll, but I'm betting there are plenty of people among his baseball staff that are thrilled to have the opportunity to start over. They've been given a clean slate.

Miami acquired five young pitchers in the three trades. If two or three of them end up having long careers, this deal will look different.

The Marlins ended up getting help all over the diamond, including behind the plate, where Rob Brantly (who came from Detroit) has a chance to be solid.

If Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob Turner anchor the rotation for the next five years, if Donovan Solano and Brantly are solid everyday players, Miami has a chance to put a nice team around Giancarlo Stanton.

It's not how most people thought things would work out when the Marlins added manager Ozzie Guillen, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell last winter.

Plenty of us thought it would play out differently when Marlins Park opened last spring. It's a splashy beautiful place with a dizzying array of fan comforts.

If Bell had been more reliable at the end of games, if Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison had been better, things might have turned out differently.

But the Marlins decided not to fool themselves. Their roster needed work, and not in a small way.

Now they're investing in young players, and that's a risky business. Young players can thrill you or break your heart.

The Marlins have hired the right guy to manage this next generation. Nothing came easy for Mike Redmond. He's close enough to his playing career that he'll understand all the highs and lows his players will be going through. Redmond will nurture them and attempt to put them in position to succeed.

This obviously isn't the original script the Marlins had written. But at least they're not pretending everything is all right.

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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