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Jeffrey Loria: Marlins Are a Playoff Team


   Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria just gave his annual state of the union address on the first full workout day of spring training, and the message was pretty clear: Loria expects the Marlins to make the playoffs.

    "I expect us to make the playoffs," Loria said. "We've got all the ammunition we need."Loria

    In addition to the players, that ammunition includes manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff, according to Loria.

   Asked if the onus was on Gonzalez to win, Loria replied tersely: "Fredi is the manager. Fredi is here in his fourth season. Fredi is here to bring the the team to the next level.That's what we're hoping happens  I was very excited to see Fredi today. I gave him the biggest hug. He's been here. There's been a lot of continuity with that, as you well know, and continuity is important. It's not only with the managers and coaches, but also with players."

  Loria said "people blew things out of proportion" at the end of last season when Bobby Valentine was mentioned as a possible replacement for Gonzalez, and Gonzalez's future with the club remained in limbo for a few days.

   "Fredi's the manager and we're moving forward, period," Loria said.

    Loria said it was his decision to offer pitching ace Josh Johnson a four-year deal after the baseball office advocated a three-year contract.

    Loria was adament in his comments that he feels the Marlins are a playoff team.

    "The core of this team is back," Loria said. "And they're well positioned to make the playoffs. I think you know my history long enough to know that I'm in this game because I want to win, and we'll do whatever it takes."

    Loria said the Marlins are "about ready to break out now."

    "I'm hungry to win," Loria said. "We're heading toward our new ballpark, and I wanted to see us be more successful than we were the last two years. I felt we should have been one of eight (playoff teams) last year, and I was disappointed at the end of the season, and that's all I'll say about that. But we have the ability to do it now and we certainly have the manager in place to do it. We have the coaches in place."

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