Stanton solely focused on 'winning philosophy'
Marlins slugger frustrated after five teammates traded to Toronto
Giancarlo Stanton was home in Westwood, Calif., on Tuesday when he heard the news that five of his teammates were being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. His first thought hadn't changed by Thursday night.
"I do not like this at all," Stanton said. "This is the 'winning philosophy?' Then to say it's not about money? What is the motivation? There comes a breaking point. I know how I feel. I can't imagine how the city and the fans feel."
Stanton, who turned 23 two weeks before the deal, reflected on last winter when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and John Buck.
"They talked about that, a winning philosophy, and how they were building a winner to play in the new ballpark," Stanton said. "They talked about me and Jose. They talked about how they'd have Jose and [Emilio Bonifacio] and Hanley [Ramirez] in front of me and how they would go get a bat to protect me.
"Jose, Bonifacio, Hanley ... all three are gone now. I had people warn me that something like this could happen, but it runs against the competitive nature every athlete has, that nature that everything is about winning. This kind of thing is what gets talked about all the time around this team. Former Marlins come back and they warn us. It gets talked about during the stretch, in the clubhouse, after games, on the road. Again, I do not like this at all."
Marlins president David Samson said during a radio interview this week that the Marlins' last-place finish in 2012 prompted this trade.
"We sat down after the season and talked about the team and said, 'We cannot keep finishing in last place. It doesn't make sense.' We lost 93 games, and 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?'"
At one point Tuesday night, Stanton sent out an uncharacteristic tweet. He is one of the game's brightest stars, who by the age of 22 had hit 37 homers in a season despite missing 40 games because of knee and oblique injuries. Stanton led the National League in slugging at .608. His average home run traveled farther than any other player in either league.
Stanton always plays the game hard, without flair, without the need for attention. He is unfailingly modest, which made the tweet so unusual: "Alright, I'm [ticked] off!!! Plain & Simple"
In 2013, in his fourth Major League season, Stanton will be playing for his fifth manager and working with his fourth hitting coach. He has a close friend remaining in Ricky Nolasco, who soon could be gone, as well.
Stanton chose baseball rather than being the next great football tight end because of his love of the game, that joy of going to Dodger Stadium with his father.
"The one thing I didn't understand was the Minor Leagues, how that part of the business works," Stanton said of his younger days. "I'd see Todd Hollandsworth out there one game, and the next game he wouldn't be there, and I didn't understand. I didn't get the Minor League thing. I didn't understand that part of the business."
Now Giancarlo Stanton is experiencing the business side of the game.
"I can deal with losing as long as one is trying to win," Stanton said. "If you're losing and you're not trying to win, that is not fair. I play to have fun, I play to win, I play for my teammates.
"Then to say it's not about money, what is the motivation? Where is that winning philosophy? How many times do you have to be told something and have it change before you realize what's going on? It's like the boy who cried wolf.
"There's nothing I can do. I'm not going to change the way I work out in the offseason and prepare. I'm not going to change the way I approach the game. I'm not going to change the way I play every day."
Samson and Marlins manager Mike Redmond chose not to comment on Stanton's reaction to the proposed trade, which still is pending approval by the Commissioner's Office.
Last winter, the Marlins were unable to sign Albert Pujols, among others, because they would not give no-trade clauses. The deals they signed with Reyes and Buehrle were back-loaded, which allowed them to later move the bulk of the investments to other teams.
"Maybe that's the business everywhere," Stanton said. "But I would like to think it's not that way. Baseball is about winning. It is about people. When it's not about winning and not about human beings, I don't want to be a part of that."
In other words, the "breaking point" Stanton sees approaching probably will become a part of the Marlins' business plan at the end of the 2013 season. The strapping outfielder will be eligible for arbitration next fall, and if he stays healthy and gets enough pitches to hit to continue the upward graph of what eventually could be a Hall of Fame career, he is probably going to be in line for enough money to push the Marlins to entertain multi-player offers for the 23-year-old star, especially given that Stanton is not likely to sign a long-term deal to stay in Miami.
For the time being, the Marlins are not planning to trade Stanton. They also have not been in contact with Stanton's representatives about a long-term deal.
The last two offseasons, Stanton has gone to Europe to explore, learn and allow his mind to expand past the competitive juices that drive him. He has traveled to Japan; he eventually wants to see the Pyramids and the Middle East. But this weekend, his escape will be the USC-UCLA game: His high school teammate, Wes Horton, is a defensive end for USC, where Stanton would have played football had the Marlins not drafted him and offered him the opportunity to play the other sport he loves.
Anyone in South Florida who cares about the Marlins now has no choice but to believe that Stanton is going to be no different than Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, Mike Piazza, Moises Alou, Al Leiter, Josh Beckett, Ramirez, Reyes, Buehrle, et al.
The shame of it is that Stanton logically should be the face of Miami baseball. Stanton is thoughtful, civil, decent and plays the game the right way, not to mention at a skill level about which most players only dream. Now, one first wonders if baseball will ever be to Miami kids what the Dodgers were to a young Giancarlo, then one wonders where his historic identity will be planted.
Most of all, Stanton is human, not oil on canvas, and that he does not like. Not at all.
Peter Gammons is a columnist for MLB.com and an analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.