Marlins Firesale

Ah, life is good these days for Mets fans. Not only has our team acquired some key pieces in the offseason, but one of our big competitors for the NL East crown, the Florida Marlins, is having its second firesale in the past decade.

This offseason bears a lot of similarities to the winter of 1997 for the Marlins, with the big difference being that the team is two years removed from a World Series title, rather than two months.

Check out these numbers comparing the two firesales:

1997 .266 52 240 27 .347 .436 .783 $11.35m 30.75
2005 .278 49 260 18 .357 .428 .785 $21.33m 31.5

As you can see, the average age and stats of the four everyday players traded by Florida in each offseason are nearly identical, as is the makeup of the groups. In 1997, the Marlins traded a slugger (Moises Alou), two solid contributors (Devon White and Jeff Conine) and a marginal player (Kurt Abbott). In 2005, so far, Florida has given up a slugger (Carlos Delgado), two solid contributors (Luis Castillo and Paul Lo Duca) and a marginal player (Mike Lowell).

The biggest difference in the two years has been in the pitching that has left Florida. In '97, the Marlins gave up Kevin Brown, Dennis Cook, Al Leiter and Robb Nen -- that's two frontline starters, a solid middle reliever and a closer. This year, they've only traded Josh Beckett, though they've also let A.J. Burnett leave via free agency.

Speaking of Burnett, he was one of the key players acquired in the '97 trades (he came from the Mets as part of the Al Leiter deal). And by "one of," I mean "one of two." Only Burnett and Derrick Lee (acquired from San Diego in the Kevin Brown deal) were significant contributers to the Marlins. The 17 players Florida brought in via trade in the '97 offseason played an average of 70 games for the team. If you take Lee out of the equation, the other 16 players averaged just 32 appearances in a Marlins uniform, and nine of the 17 never played a game for Florida (most of them never even reached the major league level).

This doesn't bode well for Florida this year, given that the Marlins have so far been stockpiling prospects again. It could be another few sad years in southern Florida (well, two at most, since the team will likely be moving after the '07 season).