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Coutinho: Miami Taxpayers Biggest Losers In Loria's Shell Game

By Rich Coutinho
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When news surfaced Tuesday that the Marlins were unloading most of their team to the Blue Jays in yet another salary dump, I thought of a scene from the movie "Wall Street."

It was when Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, said to Gordon Gekko, "You told me you were going to turn Bluestar around. Not upside down."

Gekko's response: "It's all about the bucks -- the rest is just conversation."

Enter Jeffrey Loria, who insisted his new stadium would set the scene for the "New Marlins." He even changed the team's logo, and then went out and signed every free agent who would agree to leave out a no-trade clause for insane money. The city of Miami went along with it, not only giving Loria a new stadium, but also handing him all kinds of secondary benefits.

Now what do the people of Miami have? A brand-new shiny stadium with the same Marlins team they have seen before -- totally stripped down, a shell of their former selves. The other two times the Marlins purged salary came on the heels of a championship. And although I disagreed with those moves as well, at least it did not involve practically extorting cash from taxpayers for a new stadium.

Last winter, after signing Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to free-agent contracts, the Marlins made a run at Albert Pujols. They would have snared him had they given the slugger a full no-trade clause. When they balked at that suggestion, Pujols said thanks -- but no thanks. It was a sign Miami would eventually hold a fire sale, but I didn't expect it this soon.

Not only have they dealt away every free agent, they also shed contracts they had prior to their wild spending spree. Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez and Josh Johnson are no longer in Miami. I'm sure Ricky Nolasco, who is arbitration eligible, will soon be gone as well. And you can bet Giancarlo Stanton will be traded 12-16 months from now, once he's able to file for arbitration.

Meanwhile, Loria is laughing all the way to the bank. Or as Gordon Gekko would put it, "Greed is good".

Truth be told, Gekko is a rank amateur compared to Loria.

Three strikes and you're out: should Loria be given the boot from baseball? Be heard in the comments below...

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