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Marlins cheapskate owner Loria dumps team, dupes fans again

If the Miami Marlins are going to dump their team every year, their new manager should be John Calipari. Why not? He can win some games, sell a bunch of tickets and sell a bunch more T-shirts -- and then announce in December that he traded his entire starting rotation to the Red Sox and call it "the greatest day in the history of Marlins baseball."

Hey, it's more charming than what the Marlins are actually doing.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is at it again. This time, his franchise traded ace Josh Johnson, backup ace Mark Buehrle and star shortstop Jose Reyes to the Blue Jays for players to be traded later. This is what the Marlins do: When their good players get expensive, they flip them for younger and cheaper ones. Recently, they traded Heath Bell to the Diamondbacks for players who do not cost as much as Heath Bell.

And of course, Loria goes through managers like his last manager, Ozzie Guillen, goes through curse words: with a speed and passion that the rest of us can only imagine.

Now Loria turns back and ... what? What does he do? What can he tell his fans, who presumably pay taxes and therefore bought him a new stadium so he could boost his payroll?

What is the point of being a Marlins fan? Where is the fun in this?

The strange thing about Loria is that, by the most common measurement, he has not been a terrible owner. He bought the team in 2002. Look at the Marlins' record since then:

2003: 91-71, won World Series2004: 83-792005: 83-792006: 78-842007: 71-912008: 84-772009: 87-752010: 80-822011: 72-902012: 69-93

Hey, I didn't say he was great. But the Marlins had five winning records in 10 years, and even if you don't count those first three years, the Marlins have been moderately competitive. Since 2006, the Marlins have had two winning seasons, two just under .500, and three lousy ones. The Pirates are jealous.

And yet ... well, again: There is nothing to cheer for here. The roster changes so much, and the manager is always on a month-to-month lease. The only constant is the owner, and how can you cheer for him when his heart is in his wallet?

Guillen was a disaster in Miami, but he did win a World Series and managed some pretty good White Sox teams. Joe Girardi, another manager Loria fired, has survived for five years with the Yankees. Loria couldn't wait to drive them both out of town. Loria is cheap, fickle and impetuous, which must make him the world's worst dinner date. He probably takes one bite of his entree and sells the rest to the nearest table.

We are more than three decades into the free-agency era. We all know that rosters turn over, and that our favorite player today could be in Chicago or Atlanta tomorrow. Baseball is still as popular as it's ever been, so fans have accepted this. In some ways, it has made baseball far more interesting -- it is certainly much more fun to follow in the winter than it used to be.

But if you are going to pour your heart and your money into a team, you have to feel like that team's goals are at least somewhat aligned with yours. Marlins fans know by now that the owner would sell a one-run lead in the ninth inning if somebody made him a decent offer. (And hey, that would probably mean extra innings -- more concessions to sell!)

As Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton tweeted: "Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain & Simple"

Don't worry, Giancarlo. The Marlins will trade you soon enough.

Here is what's funny: In a vacuum, the Marlins had the right idea. The team was terrible this year. Clear off some payroll, get some young talent, build a contender from the ground up. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are doing something similar with the Cubs.

The problem is that the Marlins are getting rid of damn near everybody, and they have been through this way too many times. Before Loria showed up, owner Wayne Huizenga sold the 1997 World Series champions for parts. They dumped Miguel Cabrera when he was kinda sorta approaching free agency.

Oh, and there is this: the Marlins spent $120 million on their new stadium. The city and county combined to spend $479 million. I hope those empty seats are bolted down. Loria might sell them, too.

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