Loria keeping eyes trained firmly on the future

Loria keeping eyes trained firmly on the future

JUPITER, Fla. -- Making dramatic changes has restocked the Marlins with a number of pieces that the team hopes will help form a brighter future.

"We now have the core of 16 or 17 players, and they're going to be here very quickly," team owner Jeffrey Loria said on Tuesday morning, addressing the media before the Marlins faced the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium. "Some of them will be here this year."

The organization's top two prospects, pitcher Jose Fernandez and outfielder Christian Yelich, are expected to open the season at Double-A Jacksonville, but both could move up to the big leagues as early as midseason. They will be part of a new wave of talent to filter up to the Majors.

"We're hoping that Yelich and Fernandez will start the ball rolling," Loria said.

After two straight last-place finishes, Loria is looking ahead.

"My father used to say to me, 'Jeffrey, you know why the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror? Because the future is brighter than the past,'" he said. "That's what we have. We have a very bright future, and I would like [the community] to rally around that."

Loria spoke on a wide range of topics for about 15 minutes, much of it similar to what he told some members of the print media on Monday night at Marlins Park.

The organization has been under heavy scrutiny since trading Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to the Blue Jays on Nov. 19.

"The established talent didn't work," Loria said of the underperforming 2012 squad. "We had it last year. We had players we thought were top players, and they were paid [well] and didn't perform."

Loria understands the fans' reaction but added that the moves were necessary after the team finished 69-93 and showed little signs of improving.

"I really do understand the disappointment," he said. "I'm disappointed. I didn't enjoy last year. We kind of had a perfect storm. Everything collapsed in the beginning. The team didn't play well, other things happened, which you all know.

"It's a new year, and I'd like to look in front of us instead of behind us. We have the core and [the] makings of a championship-caliber team now. [Last year] didn't work. We stunk. We had to fix it, we had to change it, we had to do it quickly, and that's what I wanted to do."

Manager Mike Redmond has replaced Ozzie Guillen, who came under fire at the start of the 2012 season with controversial comments he made about Fidel Castro.

Redmond is looking to shape a young squad into winners. The team has also added veterans Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre for their experience and leadership.

Loria scoffed at the notion that the Marlins are considered by fans to be a "Triple-A team."

"It's not a Triple-A ballclub," he said. "It's a ballclub with some pretty impressive players. I wouldn't call Polanco a Triple-A player, I wouldn't call our shortstop, [Adeiny Hechavarria], a Triple-A player. I wouldn't call our second baseman, [Donovan Solano], a Triple-A player. I certainly wouldn't call Rob Brantly that.

"These are exciting players. Giancarlo Stanton is not that. Juan Pierre -- Mr. Energy, who sets the tone for how you play and the standard for excellence -- these are not Triple-A players. You can use those terms, I can't prevent it. I can't stop you from saying what you want to say."

One reason the Marlins made so many moves is because their Minor League system had become depleted after a string of first-round Draft picks fell short of expectations. It reached a point last year when a player was injured, there wasn't the depth needed to adequately call up a replacement.

"Over the past eight years, if you really want to focus on it, many of those prospects didn't work out," Loria said. "We didn't have the players. We drafted players and paid first-round players bonuses to perform. Jeremy Hermida, [Brett] Sinkbeil, [Jeff] Allison never even played in the Major Leagues. Taylor Tankersley. Guys didn't develop, and you've got to have these guys develop."

The Marlins have showed in the past that they can compete and have winning seasons with modest payrolls. They're trying to create that culture once again.

"We've had a lot of winning seasons through the decade," Loria said. "It's been not so great the past two years. Going into the new ballpark, we thought it would be terrific, so that's why I said, 'Let's produce this $100 million payroll.' If it doesn't work, you've got to fix it."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.