Ex-Marlins star Lowell says team can win back the crowds — in time
JUPITER, Fla. — Mike Lowell grew up in Miami, helped the Marlins win a World Series and knows all too well about the franchise's tradition of humble payrolls and modest crowds.
Back in uniform this week as a special instructor, Lowell says the team can win again and win back fans, but it will take time. And he sympathizes with South Floridians angry the Marlins this season will be near baseball's basement in payrolls — again.
The return to a tight budget comes after a brief spending binge and only one year in the long-sought new ballpark that was supposed to transform the franchise.
“You just had so much hope,” Lowell said. “You've been wanting for this for 15 years, and you get it, and it seemed like it didn't last very long.
“But it's not my team. It's not my money. They have the right to do what they want. But there's going to be a consequence.”
While the Marlins' latest payroll purge will keep disenchanted fans away, Lowell said it might also deter future free agents from considering Miami.
All-Stars Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell signed free-agent deals before the 2012 season, and all already have been traded.
“Players read contracts and see that Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle got traded in the first year of a long-term deal,” Lowell said. “They're going to think twice about it. It'll definitely be an issue.”
Owner Jeffrey Loria ordered a roster shake-up after the Marlins finished last in the NL East with a $90 million payroll, so Reyes, Buehrle and Josh Johnson were traded to Toronto.
“I understand the team lost a lot of games,” Lowell said. “But I think it would be hard to say they lost a lot of games because of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson.”
Even so, Lowell is rooting for the Marlins, in part, because his close friend Mike Redmond is the new manager. They were Marlins teammates for six seasons after the '97 World Series champions were dismantled.
Lowell was a rookie in 1999, the roster was the youngest in the majors, and the Marlins lost 98 games. Four years later, many of the same players — including Lowell and Redmond — celebrated a World Series championship.
Redmond envisions the same sort of development in the next few years, and he invited Lowell to spend a few days with the team.
“I just want him to be around to be a sounding board for some of our young players who have this opportunity,” Redmond said. “Mike got an opportunity because of getting rid of a lot of the players in '97. It was the same opportunity as now. He made the most of his opportunity, and look what he accomplished.”
Lowell spent 12 years in the majors and was a four-time All-Star third baseman. He was the World Series Most Valuable Player in 2007 when he led Boston's memorable title run, and he wore a Red Sox uniform while visiting their camp earlier this week.
But he's still a Marlin. Lowell attended about a half dozen games in their new ballpark last season.
While it seems fan ire has never been higher in South Florida, Lowell predicted attendance will rise again if and when the team is successful.
“Winning cures everything,” he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Plum grad McGough realizes dream, unfazed by demotion to minors
- MLB notebook: Foul ball strikes woman after Manfred address fan safety issue
- MLB notebook: Phillies bench coach Bowa awaits punishment after lashing out at Mets
- After legal win, ex-Pirates star Bonds unapologetic, leaves others to judge career