Last place. 93 losses. Get used to hearing those terms from the Marlins over the next few days by way of explanation as they finalize a 12-player mega deal with the Blue Jays.
The trade that will send Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to Toronto still is not official. The two sides continue to sort through medical reports and conducting physicals before presenting the deal to the Commissioner's Office for approval.
Both owner Jeffrey Loria and team president David Samson made their first comments since news of the trade broke on Wednesday. CBSSports.com caught up with "a defiant Loria" at the owners meetings in Chicago.
"We finished in last place," Loria told Jon Heyman. "You figure it out...We have to get better. We can't finish in last place. We finished in last place. That's unacceptable. We have to take a new course."
Loria also told Heyman he has no intention of selling the team, calling the notion "more stupidity."
Samson echoed some of those sentiments in a pre-taped segment on The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz on 790 The Ticket. Samson was unavailable between 3-6 p.m. for his weekly show, during which he takes listener calls. LeBatard explained he thought it important enough to hear from Samson in some capacity, regardless of the format. Samson will be back on the show Friday and take questions.
"We sat down after the season and talked about the team and said we cannot keep finishing in last place," Samson said. "It just doesn't make sense. We entrusted all of our scouts and development people and upper level baseball people, and said what can we do to possibly start this to turn around? What needs to happen? How can it work? All sorts of different plans were possible. It just 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 absolutely recognize names coming back in a potential trade are not names people are familiar with, but in the baseball world people are familiar with them. What I really hope will happen and what we plan on happening is winning more games, each year starting to win more games."
LeBatard hammered Samson with questions about the fans' distrust of this ownership group and the appearance the Marlins pulled a bait and switch with the team. Samson said whatever distrust exists stems from the club not making the playoffs since 2003.
"What I say to them is we spent it wrong," said Samson, referencing last season's $191 million free agent spending spree on Reyes, Buehrle and Heath Bell. "It showed with everything off the field and on the field. We didn't approach anything we needed to approach correctly in terms of on the field or on the field. I don't blame more fans for not coming out. Who wants to see 93 losses? We think we have a young team now that may be hungrier and should win more."
Convincing fans the team is better without guys like Johnson, Reyes and Buehrle won't be easy. Samson also sidestepped the question of the team's payroll. A projected 25-man roster based on players currently within the organization totals around $36 million, including money the Marlins are sending the Diamondbacks for Bell. Last season, the Marlins' Opening Day payroll was around $94 million.
"I'm not sure what range the payroll will end up at, but I know we'll have the players in place to do better than last year," Samson said. "That's what it's about. We tried the higher payroll and ended up losing more games. Whatever the payroll is, the real important part is having better players."
The Marlins did complete one transaction Wednesday, claiming Scott Maine off waivers.
A product of Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens) High School, Maine split last season between the Indians and Cubs organizations. The Blue Jays designated him for assignment last week.
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