The Miami Marlins have not scored a run in the team's first two games of 2013, but that did not stop owner Jeffrey Loria from saying 2013 is the beginning of something good.
The beleaguered Loria told the Miami Herald Wednesday that the payroll-purging trades of 2012 have provided the building blocks for a team that can compete in the near future. "It's the beginning of a new era for us and it's exciting," he said.
The Marlins fielded an Opening Day lineup on Monday that featured only one position player from Opening Day 2012, when the team christened its new stadium with a roster full of high-priced stars. But Loria once again said the trades of last year, which sent Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle (and others) away in exchange for prospects and role players was necessary for the team to compete.
"People will look back in two years from now and say, 'They did the right thing,' period," he said. "Give these guys a chance. Give us a chance. Watch them mature because they’re quality."
The Marlins now have one of the youngest rosters in Major League Baseball (four starting positional players are 25 or younger, the starting rotation will include two players 25 or younger), supplemented by a number of veterans in the winter of their careers. Most experts project the Marlins to lose 85 to 95 games in 2013.
The team faced a huge backlash in the wake of a November trade that sent five starters (including Johnson and Reyes) to Toronto. Team officials have stated publicly that season ticket sales fell to 5,000 in 2013, down from around 12,000 the previous year.
Loria declined to speculate on what the Marlins' attendance numbers will look like this season, though. "I'm not doing numbers anymore because everybody holds you to it," he said.
He may end up being right when he says the team's moves will look prescient down the line, but Loria still faces an uphill battle in convincing Marlins fans to buy tickets this season. Even if the team becomes competitive again in the future, it is entirely possible that the Marlins have lost the support of a large chunk of South Florida for good.