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Trade Birds For Marlins -- Now

Commentary By Todd McElwee

The sun has set on another less than magical summer of baseball in Charm City -- and drastic measures need to be taken as O’s fans are approaching DEFCON 5 levels of frustration and ambivalence. A blockbuster trade is in order, but swapping out a player or two simply won’t do. No, the entire organization needs to be exchanged for the Florida Marlins.

From the owner on down, everyone must go. The players, front office, scouts, farm system, custodians, essential and non-essential personnel as well as the grounds crew should all be dealt. Certain broadcasters, journalists, the Bird and Boog Powell can stay. Unfortunately, moving expenses will not be covered.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the Marlins aren’t my first, second or even fifth choice. Everyone would love to deal for the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox or St. Louis Cardinals, but how realistic is that? I would even settle for the Minnesota Twins, but they’re moving into a new ballpark next year and need to put butts in seats, making the prospect of trading for a losing team very unattractive.

So Florida it is. Not the sexiest choice, but the right one for Baltimore. Since the Orioles’ last playoff season, 1997, the Marlins have won two World Series and are just a tick under .500 at 1,051-1,055 (.499). Our beloved Birds haven’t fared as well, logging a 953- 1,151 (.453) mark and one trip to the postseason.

Florida has posted six winning seasons -- including an 87-75 record this year -- during the aforementioned stretch. Aside from the American League East championship campaign of 1997, the Orioles haven’t sniffed .500, finishing at least six games under the mark of mediocrity every year. Baltimore was 64-98 this season, four games worse than in 2008.

Sure, the Marlins play a JV schedule in the National League East -- they get the Nationals nearly 20 times a year. Still, they’ve managed to find success against the American League. Since our 1997 starting point, Florida is 120-99 (.548) during interleague play. On the contrary, Baltimore is a lowly 101-128 (.441) versus the senior circuit during the same span.

Many will say a bright future lies ahead for the Orioles. Matt Wieters appears to be a sure thing. Brian Roberts and Adam Jones are already All-Stars and Nick Markakis one day will be.

The cupboard here is far from empty. But, does anyone believe Baltimore will be over .500 competing in the toughest division in baseball in the foreseeable future?
The Marlins are already competitive. They’ve been in the mix for a postseason berth during each of the past seasons and probably will be again in 2010.

Florida claims a slew of young stars, including reigning NL batting champion shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who at 25 is a top five talent; Dan Uggla, an All-Star second baseman with 121 home runs in four seasons; and right-hander Josh Johnson, 15-5 with a 3.23 ERA in 2009.

One fire sale after another has done little in derailing Florida. Unrivaled in scouting, the Marlins have arguably the best farm system in baseball. Since winning the 2003 World Series, Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, Carlos Delgado, Derek Lee and Miguel Cabrera have all gone by the wayside. They don’t seem to be missed.

Talented as they may be, we’re likely going to claim a championship, or even a pennant, with the Marlins’ roster as constituted. Luckily, they had the lowest payroll in baseball last season at $36,814,000. Baltimore’s was 23rd at $67,101,667.

Think about what could be done with that extra $30,287,667. Albert Pujols?

A lot of fans bleed orange and black, and Florida isn’t an elite team, but at least the Marlins inspire hope. A timely hit or two and who knows, they may still be playing this fall. Unfortunately, you can’t say that about the Birds.

Pull the trigger. Make the trade.

Posted: Oct. 22, 2009