- Associated Press - Thursday, July 26, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - The Marlins are trading stars, just like they did following their championships in 1997 and 2003. Team president David Samson says this exodus is different.

“A fire sale I guess comes after a World Series victory,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t know how you would call it a fire sale to trade players of team that’s underperforming so spectacularly. So for us, we are just doing everything we can to win more games.”

Former NL batting champion Hanley Ramirez became the latest player to leave, traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday with left-handed reliever Randy Choate for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and minor league pitcher Scott McGough.

On Monday, the Marlins sent pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers for pitching prospect Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers.

“When we put the team together, none of us had any idea that we would be underperforming en masse,” Samson said during a telephone interview. “It’s not just one player. It is all players. So one of the hardest things to do is look in the mirror and say that we didn’t get it right, and that’s what we did. We want to restructure because we want to win games.”

As the team prepared to move into its new $634 million retractable-roof ballpark, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria hired Ozzie Guillen as manager last fall and committed $191 million in a five-day span during the offseason to sign All-Stars Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. The team agreed to star in a Showtime reality series, “The Franchise.”

In their colorful new uniforms, the Marlins were 31-23 through June 3, just percentage points out of first place, then lost 17 of their next 20 games. They are 45-53, 13 1/2 games out of first place and just a half-game above last.

Samson said president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest approached Loria and Samson after the Marlins lost two of three at the even-worse Chicago Cubs last week.

“He didn’t feel as though things were trending properly for us to keep the team as is and make the playoffs,” Samson said.

Miami might not be done, with pitcher Josh Johnson and Bell also trade possibilities before Tuesday’s deadline to make swaps without waivers.

“Be careful with what you think, what you say, and how you smile because you might be next,” Guillen said. “That’s the way it has to go if you don’t perform. That’s business.”

After winning the 1997 World Series, the Marlins jettisoned high-priced stars Moises Alou, Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Robb Nen, Jeff Conine and Devon White. They won the Series again in 2003, then allowed Ivan Rodriguez, Ugueth Urbina, Derrek Lee, Mark Redman, Braden Looper and Juan Encarnacion to depart.

The 28-year-old Ramirez is hitting .249 with 14 home runs and 49 RBIs after going 2 for 4 with a triple, RBI single and walk in the Dodgers‘ 3-2, 12-inning loss at St. Louis. That’s a steep decline from his big season in 2009, when he hit a league-leading .342 with 24 homers and 106 RBIs.

“I am sad to go,” Ramirez said as he left the Marlins. “This will be always be my home, but it will just be a little different.”

A three-time All-Star, he shifted from shortstop to third base this season to make room for Reyes.

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