I’ve always thought that Jeffrey Loria‘s bad reputation in the media was highlight exaggerated. Therefore, I’m not surprised to read that Sports Illustrated just named him as one of the 5 worst owners in MLB. Here is what they had to say:
Despite the best efforts of another crop of youngsters, Loria may be running a second franchise into the ground. The art dealer turned a nation of fans against him with his first team, the Expos, before forcing their move from Montreal and selling them back to Major League Baseball. He then took control of the Marlins and watched his exciting team shock the Yankees in the 2003 World Series and then became Miami fans’ worst nightmare: the second coming of Wayne Huizenga. The Marlins slowly have been rebuilding themselves with more young talent, despite the lowest cash outlay provided by any owner, and could be turning a corner soon. That is, until Hanley Ramírez and Dan Uggla are shown the door like Josh Beckett, Derrek Lee and Miguel Cabrera.
=It is clear that the SI team just phoned this one in. After all why do any research and thinking when you have this urban legend about Mr. Loria. While he didn’t make the best moves in Montreal, he was, in the end, nothing more than a caretaker for a dying franchise. His time with the Marlins has been a mix — a couple of fire sales on one hand, but a championship and a new ballpark on the other. We can debate his decision to keep a low payroll for most of his tenure but it is the results on the field and talent today that matter. Despite not being a serious contender since winning it all in 2003, the team still outperforms many MLB teams over this period.
Today, the Fish are looking at a new ballpark which secures their existence in South Florida for the long run. Hanley Ramirez is locked up for the next 6-years of his potential Hall of Fame career. Larry Beinfest and Mike Hill continue to run and excellent front office which has built a nice core of young players that allows the Fish to compete. Yes, we will miss Josh Beckett, Derrek Lee and Miguel Cabrera but no team (other than the Yankees, perhaps) could have kept all these guys. In fact, in baseball, you can be good one day and terrible the other. See Dontrelle Willis. And SI, since you liked ripping Dan Uggla for his All-Star errors, but now elevate him to a star, I will point out his sub .200 average today.
I’m not elevating Mr. Loria on a pedestal. He, like every MLB owner, has made mistakes and clearly he hasn’t spent as much money as everyone would like him to spend. But his performance as the owner of the Marlins has been a successful one. He has a championship, a great front office, a new ballpark and talent for the future. It’s something very few teams have today.