Where are you going to play Prince Fielder?
“Prince Fielder?” repeated Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen Wednesday at lunch.
“What are you talking about? We’re not signing everyone.”
No, it only seems that way.
Chicago White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle signed a four-year, $58 million deal with the Marlins, who have already signed free agent shortstop Jose Reyes and closer Heath Bell.
And while the Marlins bowed out of the Albert Pujols’ chase, they have a six-year offer on the table to lefty C.J. Wilson. The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels also presented five-year offers and say that’s their limit.
A week ago we thought the Marlins’ Hollywood-style entertaining of free agents was all just so much show to sell season’s tickets for the Marlins’ new stadium.
They’re filling their plate like an offensive lineman visiting Miami’s Joe’s Stone Crabs on an all-you-can-eat night.
All is sunshine, oranges and lollypops in Miami.
Aside from former shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who was moved to third to make room for Reyes, and now wants to be traded.
And there is that little matter of the Securities and Exchange Commission investigating the financing of the Marlins’ new stadium. The $634 million, 37,000-seat retractable-roof stadium, is roughly 80% supported by taxpayers after the Marlins claimed they didn’t have money to build a new park.
“Of the top guys, we signed Bell, Buehrle and Reyes,” Guillen said. “We’re showing people they want to play for us, they want to play for me.”
It has to be galling if you are a Montreal Expos fan, almost as bad as if you were a Miami taxpayer, to sit and watch former Expo owner Jeffrey Loria hand out shrimp boats full of cash to free agents when he invested so little in his old team.
What does a native Montrealer like Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos think?
“With the money they have to spend they’re doing a good job,” Anthopoulos told reporters. “I don’t look at the Marlins as the former Expos, the Expos became the Washington Nationals.”
Anthopoulos did credit former Expo Claude Delorme, now with the Marlins, for phoning him back and giving him the cell number of Expos GM Jim Beattie in 2000 which led to his job with the Expos.
“Claude didn’t have to do that.”
Anthopoulos says he always thought the Marlins’ front office was under-rated with GM Larry Beinfest and top aide Dan Jennings.
After guaranteeing a total of $133 million to Reyes and Bell this week, Marlins president David Samson said the plan was not to stop at those signings.
“This was always a three-part move,” Samson said. “(The third part) has had different variations, but it was always a three-part move.”
They’ve addressed the bullpen and shortstop areas. Now, will the rotation have one or two additions?
Interjected Loria: “The answer is, stay tuned.”
Loria said their chasing of free agents was never a publicity stunt: “We have a glorious new park, we want to be good, and get better. And we want to win. Period.”
Loria, Samson and baseball people arranged a midnight meeting with Reyes and his agent in Bemelman’s Bar at The Carlyle, a New York hotel.
Clubs are not allowed to talk to free agents until after midnight.
“Those guys are crazy, 12:01?” said Reyes after his $106 million, six-year contract was finalized. “They showed me a lot of love.”
Samson arrived prior to midnight.
“Jeffrey walked into the Carlyle with a long overcoat because it was cold,” Samson said. “Under the coat he was wearing a brand new Reyes Marlins jersey with our new logo that had not been released yet,” he said. “People thought it was a freak show ... the owner standing, opening his trench coat — 12:01 was a big deal for us because we had to show Jose we had an idea.”
They stayed for drinks and got to know each other.
Reyes will be cutting his dreadlocks
“We have team rules,” Loria said.
The Marlins may have rules, but teams wonder if there is a limit to their budget?