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Giancarlo Stanton playing a dangerous game: believing in the Marlins
2014-11-17

And with that out of the way, and Stantons signature soon to dry on a contract that guarantees him this ungodly sum, comes the answer to a question philosophers and paupers alike have asked for eons: Apparently, the price of a soul is $325 million.
What Robert Johnson did with a guitar, Giancarlo Stanton does with a bat, and in order to preserve that in Miami, Jeffrey Loria promised Stanton just shy of what he spent on his entire teams combined payroll for the first eight seasons he owned it. This is a staggering deal, a monumental deal, the sort of deal in years and dollars that fits the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers or Boston Red Soxs bailiwick.

Here, instead, are the Miami Marlins, owned by Loria, the man who along with his ex-wifes son, David Samson, weaseled his way into taxpayers building him a brand-new ballpark despite his continuous ability to trade away all the players worth a damn under his control. He has done this again, and again, and again, and this time he swears its different, and maybe it actually is, because Stanton and the advisers that surround him are intelligent, conscientious, forthright people who wouldnt sign just for the years and the dollars.

What that combination can do is make you want to believe the best in people, even people like Loria
and Samson, whose last endeavor into big money ended in a spectacular fire sale that drew Stantons ire. He was the last person they wanted angry: a monster power hitter in a sport with a dearth, a marketer's fantasy with his handsome looks and multiple ethnicities that appeal to a wide swath, a good person and a grand presence and a dream anchor around which to build, if only the Marlins could build something Loria and Samson would keep together longer than a sneeze.

The fine print of the contract remains a secret for now, and perhaps it contains a greater explanation of what took Stanton from vehemently against any sort of extension with the Marlins to offering Loria and Samson his prime. Surely an opt-out clause helps. Ultimately, this may be baseballs version of a football deal: big in years and dollars, far smaller in reality. If Stanton gets an opt-out at 30 years old, say, this would essentially be a five-year contract with an eight-year insurance policy for Stanton.

Giving the Marlins a half-decade to prove Lorias previous decade-plus of ownership was a mirage is generous of Stanton. He couldve waited two years, hit free agency and landed the mother lode then. Only he saw, with one Mike Fiers pitch in September that shattered his face and required surgery, how little is guaranteed, how the baseball gods can smite even the good.

The Marlins did right by Stanton during his recovery, engendering good will before meeting with him and delivering the sort of staggering contract proposal that included a huge chunk of we-know-you-cant-stand-us money. The Marlins tried to wipe away their misdeeds with zeroes. And no matter how principled a man, how stubborn he may be in his opinion, staring at this $325,000,000 at 25 years old forces him to ask the logical follow-up: OK, so what now?

The answer satisfied Stanton. Hes got at least one fail-safe key in an opt-out, and with a 13-year deal and a creative agent, there could be more possibilities for him to abscond more than one opt-out or vesting opt-outs in addition to the no-trade clause that protects the Marlins from straight dumping him? should Loria do Loria.

Can Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria be trusted to build around Giancarlo Stanton?

Can Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria be trusted to build around Giancarlo Stanton?
Which he will. Because rare is the 73-year-old man who suddenly looks at what made him stinking rich and does the complete opposite. Unless Jose Fernandez is the rare Scott Boras client who ignores advice to hit free agency, hes gone after the 2018 season which means the Marlins will trade him before that. When hes shipped off, or Christian Yelich, or Marcell Ozuna, or someone else who gets too expensive, how will Stanton react?

We know what Loria and Samson will do: cast blame outward. First their payroll was less than Alex Rodriguezs annual salary because of the lack of a viable stadium. Then when the stadium was built and they lost, they blamed their dumping money on an underachieving team. Its always something with them.

Stanton knows this, and once he dots his I and crosses the pair of Ts, hell be locked in with a clear conscience and deep hope. Hes trusting people who have lied to keep their promises, and its a great risk. Stanton loves Miami and his team, and he believes that with the Marlins power arms and his bat they can win. Beating the Nationals wont be easy. The Mets, too, pose a formidable challenge. And if they want to compete with either, the Marlins must beef up their payroll well past the $100 million mark, because one guy taking up more than a quarter of a teams salary has proven incompatible with winning in modern baseball.

Over the next few years, Stanton will find out whether his trust was well-placed or this truly was a Faustian bargain. Hes about to inherit a title: highest-paid athlete ever. He wants another: World Series champion. The latter ultimately goes back to the Marlins, to Loria and Samson, whose past actions would doom Stantons sobriquets mutually exclusive.

No, you cant turn down $325 million. Giancarlo Stanton will get his money if he wants it, and theres great solace in that, and hell opt out if he wants that, and theres comfort there, too. Ever present will be Jeffrey Loria, the majordomo of the Marlins, paying his hefty price, getting exactly what he wanted, smiling with his devilish grin.




AL All Stars: MLB All Star Game 2010
2010-07-07

The American League’s dominance of the All-Star game is startling. Undefeated since 1996, the casual observer might assume they were playing against a college team, not the National League’s best players. Ever since Bud Selig made World Series home-field advantage contingent on the All-Star game’s result, it has aided the AL in the World Series as well. Simply put, the impact of home-field can’t be underestimated. As the 2010 edition approaches and lineups are announced July 4, here’s the starting lineup that, regardless of whether or not they’ll be voted in, gives the AL the best chance of continuing their dominance in The Midsummer Classic.


Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee, Mariners- Due to the sheer number of pitchers, this is always a difficult spot to select. This year is no different, as many players are having great years, making it hard for players to separate themselves. The slightest of nods goes to Lee because of his dominance of late, pitching three straight complete games. He’s also a sentimental favorite after recovering from an injury that kept him out for the first month of the season; if not for that setback, his total of seven wins could be far higher. Perhaps the biggest question surrounding Lee is if he’ll even be in the American League by the time of the All-Star game; he’s a prime candidate for a trade, and the Mets and Dodgers of the NL have been discussed as possible destinations.


If not Lee, David Price, the league ERA leader, would be an excellent selection. He has quickly gone from an uncertain talent to the undisputed ace of the Rays. This honor would be the culmination of his ascendance.


Catcher: Joe Mauer, Twins- As long as Mauer stays healthy and continues to play near his potential, this position shouldn’t be in much doubt in the years to come. He has established himself as one of the game’s best players and the only thing lagging so far this season is his number of home runs. After suffering a nagging injury at the beginning of the season, his power production should dramatically increase in the second half of the season.


First Base: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers- This may be the hardest selection of any position in the league; either Cabrera or Justin Morneau would be a very worthy selection. Although his batting average is slightly lower than that of the former AL MVP, Cabrera gets the nod because his 20 home runs and 68 RBI compare favorably to the 16 and 52 for Morneau.


Second Base: Robinson Cano, Yankees- An MVP candidate on the best team in baseball, Cano is having an absolute breakout year. His .353 average leads the league and no other second basemen is close to his power totals of 16 home runs and 54 RBI.


Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Red Sox- Beltre has enjoyed a resurgence this year after leaving Seattle. With a .346 average to go along with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, and always a steady glove, Beltre gets the nod over Evan Longoria.


Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees- In a great contrast to the American League’s abundance of talent at shortstop in years past, there is not a single AL shortstop hitting .300 this year. Although he’s underachieved thus far at the plate, Jeter is the choice due to superb defense (second highest fielding percentage of any shortstop in the league) and continued leadership on the best team in the majors. Also, although his offensive numbers are a disappointment for him, he still ranks in the top three for his position in every important category.


Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Rangers- After a sub-par, injury riddled 2009 season, Hamilton is returning to the form expected of him with a staggering season thus far. A Triple Crown candidate, he is hitting .340 with 19 home runs and 58 RBI. This would be Hamilton’s first All-Star trip after his dazzling display in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium in 2008.


Outfield: Brennan Boesch, Tigers- The fact that the unknown Boesch won’t actually be voted in is irrelevant here. In his first full season, the left-handed power hitter is batting an amazing .340 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI.


Outfield: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners- Suzuki continues to do what he’s best at: getting lots of hits, leading the American League with 107 to go along with his .331 batting average. Suzuki has many other tools that don’t always show up in the box score, including incredible speed, great range in the outfield, and the most feared outfield arm in baseball.


Designated Hitter: Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers- Guerrero has thrived with his change of venue, in the process helping to make the Rangers the biggest surprise in baseball. After many wrote him off, he’s one of two Rangers with a legitimate chance at the Triple Crown. His league-leading 70 RBI accompany 18 home runs and a .336 average. Are you ready for some MLB betting? Get over to www.sportsbook.com the home of MLB betting.