Marlins President David Samson joined the Dan LeBatard Show on 790TheTicket Wednesday to discuss the trade and the direction of the ballclub.
Q: When and how did you guys make the decision to do what you did yesterday, which is trade all the players everyone knows?
"Basically, the decision was made when we sat down after the season and talked about the team and said we cannot keep finishing in last place. It just doesn't make sense. We lost 93 games and we trusted all of our scouts and development people and upper level baseball people and said 'What we can do to possibly start this to turnaround? What needs to happen? How can it work?' And all sorts of different plans were possible. And it just so happens we found a way to possibly in one fell swoop get a whole lot better and get on the road to getting better. I actually recognize the names coming back are not names people are familiar with. But in the baseball world, people are familiar with them and so as far as I'm concerned what I really hope will happen and what I plan on happening is win more games. Each year, starting to win more games. That's what we want to do."
Q: The anatomy of the trade to the Blue Jays. How did it begin?
"I was just thinking about some of the calls we had during the season when the team wasn't playing well and losing all those games. I remember very well that our fans spoke to us and they said they were not happy with what we were doing and what the team was doing. So we said what can we do and where can we start and what can flexibility do we need going forward. We just started -- meaning the baseball guys -- started talking around something possibly came to fruition.
Q: Any part of you embarrassed today?
"No. To lose 93 games was the most embarrassing thing, far more embarrassing than this. Putting together a team in 2012 that we expected to win and the fact they didn't that was the most embarrassing. I think when we made the managerial decisions and player decisions we made last year we could not have guessed that our season would end that way. It's time to change. I'll be embarrassed if our team is as bad next year as it was last year."
Q: What do you say to the people who feel betrayed?
"I think people should feel betrayed by the fact we were losing so much and I would think they wouldn't want us to stand pat and keep losing because that's what everybody wants and that's what we want. We didn't think it would happen so many years in a row that we would finish in last place. But we don't want a team that for 20 years doesn't win 81 games or doesn't make the playoffs. We've already gone 10 years without making the playoffs. That's too much. I absolutely understand that. On the positive side, it's a great ballpark and now we need a great team go with it. We thought we had it last year. The evidence was overwhelming that we didn't."
Q: What do you say to those people who think this is a sham?
"What I say to them is we spent it wrong and it showed with everything off the field and on the field. We didn't approach anything we needed correctly. I don't blame more fans for not coming out because who wants to see 93 losses. But the fact is we think we have a young team that is maybe hungrier and should more. So, I say to them the difference with Montreal there was no ballpark, there was no future. There is a long term future for baseball in Miami and that is what the ballpark has been about and has always been about was making sure an All-Star Game comes to Miami, making sure that generations will see baseball. There's going to be losing seasons over the years. You just want to try to curb with as few as possibly. In our opinion, we were just having too many in a row."
Q: Why should anybody trust you guys just a year after you invested so much money in players that are no longer here?
"That's exactly what we said and exactly what did not happen. That's the whole issue. If we had all those starters pitching to where we thought they would pitch, then I don't think we're losing 93 games. So, that's my exact point. You may not know the name Jacob Turner or Henderson Alvarez or Nathan Eovaldi, but the fact of the matter is we think we're in better position to win more games. So, I hear you, it's the names. But at the end of the day the names added up to 93 losses. So shame on us if we go at it the same way."
Q: But why should anybody trust you guys?
"Trust in the fact we chose the right players. No, I will give you the fact we haven't been choosing the right players recently. But the faith we have in our scouts and our upper baseball management to come to our fans with names of players who can win more games, we still have that faith. We've been with them a long time. They were a big part of how we got a World Series ring in 2003. We have to trust them. If we move in a new group of pitchers and lose the same 93 games, that's not great."
Q: Right now, you're on the hook for about $16 million on books for 2013. Give us an idea of what the payroll will be next year?
"Those numbers aren't right. I'm not sure what range the payroll will end up at, but I know we will have the players in place to do better than last year and that's what it's about. We tried to raise payroll and ended up losing more games. Whatever the payroll is, the real important part is having better players. That's what it's about. It's been 10 years that most teams don't talk about a final payroll number. The final number that matters wasn't our payroll, it was 69-93. Because at the end that's all anybody focuses on."
Q: When a ballpark is publicly funded here is why a payroll is relevant: If a fan base doesn't know a payroll is going to be large, it sounds like you're just lining your pockets with money.
"Yeah, but I think everyone knows that can't be true. Everyone looks at the ballpark last year and saw the fact the team wasn't winning and the games weren't selling out, so obviously we have to do something different. Obviously, it was a public/private partnership. Let's not forget how much money Jeffrey Loria put it. $160 million of his money to get a ballpark, which has been a very positive thing and will continue to be long after all of us are gone."
Q: What was your reaction to Giancarlo Stanton being angry on Twitter
"Honestly, I have none. He's a good young player, very good young player and I don't expect players to be anything other than emotional. I get that. I didn't even call him about it."
Q: How did the players react? It's seem that now you would have a free agency problem
"I think at the end of the day players do come where the money is and that's okay. Listen, I spoke to Mark Buehrle and he said he was sorry things didn't work out. I said I'm as sorry as you are that they didn't work out. That's truly how I feel. If there was a year not to lose 93 it wasn't last year. It was just the perfect storm, starting with the Castro comments moving to the fact we couldn't win a game. It all snowballed. He was the only one I spoke to. Larry spoke to the others."
Q: It feels like the experiment with Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Heath Bell lasted only three months.
"I don't know where you got three year experiment from. That was never a word we used. This is about 30 to 40 years of baseball. It's no longer whether or not baseball can exist in Miami. We have a ballpark that exists in Miami and the Marlins aren't going anywhere for generations. So, it's not about three years. It's about a crop of players we put together thinking it would be better and then looking in the mirror and saying we don't want to drag our feet and then pray to have different results by doing the same thing over and over again."
Q: Do you feel the distrust, anger from the public?
"Of course I feel it and I understand it because the proof is in the win-loss record. There was no distrust when the team won the World Series in '03. And when we were going into '05 with the great and we didn't win, that was bad, people were upset. When went in '12 with a good team, everybody including us picked us to do better. Everybody and it just didn't happen. So, I think the distrust in warranted in terms of not winning enough."
Q: But it's personal than that. It's not just the distrust of the franchise or winning, it's a distrust of the owner, of you, of Larry Beinfest. It's a very personal distrust.
"I think that distrust again is based on the fact we're not performing. I get that. I think this isn't about me, Jeffrey or Larry. It's really about baseball and about winning. We have to try, whatever we have to do. We're custodians of this franchise, whatever period of time we're all working here. Everybody in the company is custodians of the Miami Marlins franchise because that franchise will go on long after all of the current employees are gone. There will be another group of employees, owners and presidents, just like before us. So, it was up to us during our time to get a ballpark built and now it's up to us to try to do better for everybody."
Q: You say what specifically to the angry Marlins fans today who feels bilked, betrayed?
"I can tell you that I hope that you believe you were not satisfied last year and the year before you weren't satisfied and that better days are coming with a team that's younger and hungrier to win more and that's our goal every year."
Q: What's the angriest you've heard a fan? What are you getting via email?
"Your listeners are fully supplying us with short jokes. Many of the emails are from people not exactly analyzing the players from just the names, they go right to the short jokes. I've got a bunch of emails analyzing all the players who say listen there is a chance. Josh Johnson. I love him. We had him for seven years. At the end of the day, he went 8-14. We love him. But we didn't win with him so we have to try something else. There's a bunch of people who try to follow what goes on in other team's farm systems and we haven't been as good on drafting as we'd like to be. So therefore That was another issue we had to address and one way to do it is to get some people who are scouts who we love on other teams. What we think we're doing of is trading up. But we'll see. Last December I made the mistake of saying all the signing we did and everything we did is going to be add up to being one of 10 [playoff teams]. I was completely wrong. I completely failed in that regard. So, the question is can you win a pennant in November? Can you lose a pennant in November? I guess I'm now convinced it's no to both of those."
Q: How active is the team going to be in free agency?
"It depends. It depends on who is out there and how many holes we have to fill. We just filled a bunch of holes on the team with the players we got back. We got a left side of the infield. We're looking for a center fielder. We got a No. 3 starter to go behind Ricky [Nolasco] and Jacob Turner. We've got two or three other guys that could come that are absolutely superb to go along with Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez. There's a shortstop that's being discussed, [Adeiny] Hechevarria, who if he becomes a Marlin is one of the great Cuban signings of all time -- a perennial All-Star, supposedly. But we have to do it. I guess all the talking we did last season didn't add up to any wins. So maybe less talking and more winning is in order."
Q: When you trade your name players, your expensive players and don't specifically answer we're going to spend this much, we're going to go after so-and-so, we're going to spend the money, people are going to assume you traded all the salary so you can just profit off the ballpark.
"That's just not accurately obviously. Dan, I know what to tell you. I don't know how to answer that. All I can tell you is we're trying to win games. We're trying to get people to believe that we're going to win more games. We just want to win more games and if you win more games with the players you have and they're younger, then that's good. If you lose more games with expensive players then you're like other teams that we just don't want to be like."
Q: To me this is the second worst day in history for the Marlins in terms of how the customer-base feels about the product.
"I hope if we do things right that people will look back on this day as the first day."
Q: But people want you to sell the team and Jeffrey Loria out of town.
"Okay, I don't know what to tell you. Jeffrey Loria stepped in and I will defend him because he stepped in when no one else wanted to buy this team. He got a ballpark done when no one else could and that ballpark goes to the benefit of everybody in our community."
Q: Yes, but nobody benefits more than Loria.
"It's immense personal risk. But it's not about that. No one cares about Jeffrey, no one cares about me, no cares about you. I think at the end of the day, people are trying to care about the team and the way people feel good -- just go around to other cities and ask them when you feel good about your team. It's when you win."