Marlins' fire sale shameful, but solution is complex
Posted: Wednesday April 12, 2006 2:41PM; Updated: Wednesday April 12, 2006 3:58PM
How much longer will the penny-pinching Marlins be able to afford a star like Dontrelle Willis?
Tom Verducci will answer select questions from SI.com users in his Baseball Mailbag.
I'm looking at the 2006 salaries, and I'm appalled that the Marlins have a payroll of less than $15 million. If baseball uses a luxury tax to penalize the rich and attempt to even the playing field, shouldn't it impose a minimum payroll as well? As bad as the Marlins' financial straits are, surely they must net in excess of $15 million in revenue sharing alone. With rumors flying that they will trade Dontrelle Willis this summer and possibly Miguel Cabrera next year, this team is an absolute disgrace. -- Ray, Philadelphia
I agree that what the Marlins did was awful for all of baseball, not just South Florida. A payroll floor, though, is a complicated issue. The players' association, for instance, didn't want to talk about one last time there were labor talks. Their thinking was that as soon as you introduce a salary floor, you've made the philosophical step toward an eventual salary cap.
And were the Pirates really better off throwing money at Pat Meares, Derek Bell, etc.? Are the Royals doing the right thing by spending on Scott Elarton, Doug Mientkiewicz and Mark Grudzielanek? Anybody out there think Sean Casey is a good value at $9 million for a team like Pittsburgh? See, spending money just to spend money is sometimes bad business. I do think some measures should be in place to make sure teams are spending their revenue-sharing dollars on the on-field product, whether that's the major league payroll, draft choices, international free agents, etc.
The only thing I keep hearing about is how Atlanta's starters are doing terrible in this very early season and it is time to pack up the division titles. Why is this the same argument every year, especially at the beginning of a season? The pitchers will settle down and get back on track. -- Tim, Atlanta
No one had better write off Atlanta. The Braves will be right in the thick of it again. Will they pitch better? Sure. They're not going to give up seven runs per game. I will say this, though: With John Smoltz another year older, Leo Mazzone gone and the bullpen unsettled for the near future, there are more questions than usual about this bunch.
Where do you see the Giants going in the post-Barry Bonds era? Do you see them holding on to the money once dedicated to Bonds to wait for Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder or Ryan Howard to become free agents? Or do you think they will continue to pick off old veterans with two or three years left in them? -- C.J. Smith, San Jose, Calif.
As soon as Bonds leaves the Giants (to retire or to go to the AL), the Giants will get a lot younger. They are built to win now because the window with a healthy Bonds is a small one. I don't see them investing 20 percent of their payroll into one player in the post-Bonds years.
The Brewers and Tigers are easily better teams than the Rockies. But I think the Rockies have by far the best chance at the playoffs. I think a lot of people have missed that. The Brewers have the Cubs, Cards and Astros to deal with; the Tigers have the White Sox, Indians and Twins. The Rockies have the Padres, Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks. I think the Rockies have a very legit shot at the playoffs. -- David, Atlanta
That's a very good point. We tend to forget that you only need to be better than four or five teams -- or in the AL West, only three teams -- to get into the playoffs. Every NL West team is seriously flawed and as capable of losing 90 games as winning 90. If it takes 82 wins again to get into the postseason in the NL West, I guess you can't rule out the Rockies. Eighty-two wins is probably their best-case scenario. So is it possible? Yes, but I still think they are a massive long shot.