The Palm Beach Post’s Joe Capozzi on the considerable challenge facing the Florida Marlins’ marketing department, ie. how to effectively promote a club that has completed a winter fire sale and made no secret of their intention to get the fuck out of Dodge.

If fans didn’t come out to see a playoff-caliber team, why would they pay to see a starless one?

“We ask ourselves that often,” David Samson (above) said. “We’re not hiding from it. We don’t have rose-colored glasses. This market’s been under-performing since ’93, but no one is willing to give up on it yet ” certainly not us, because we’re still too young to give up.”

As of Friday, Samson said, the team was on pace to sell 5,000 season tickets, down from about 10,000 last season.

“I don’t know what the final attendance will be,” he said. “I don’t know what the record will be for the team, but to me, it’s not about records or attendance. It’s about baseball. It’s about coming out to games.

“Every day fans can give an excuse for why they don’t want to come to the park. My hope is people say, ‘I’m going to go out to the game. I’m going to try it.’ ”

The Marlins haven’t turned to outside consultants for help. Their marketing slogan is a slight variation of last year’s, going from “Get Hooked” to “Get Hooked Up.”

“It’s get hooked up with tickets, get hooked up with people, get hooked up with a good time. It’s sort of a double-entendre, which is fun,” Samson said.

If you think the Marlins would or should hook up to the success and popularity of Willis and Cabrera, think again.

Pitcher Jason Vargas, the team’s rookie of the year in 2005, promising right fielder Jeremy Hermida and manager Joe Girardi are among images that will be featured on billboards and season-ticket items. The team also will feature newcomers Mike Jacobs and Hanley Ramirez on giveaway gloves and T-shirts.

“We’re going to integrate the new guys into the mix as much as we can,” said Sean Flynn, the team’s vice president for marketing. “They’ll be used evenly. We’re not going to say this is Dontrelle and Miguel’s team. This is the Florida Marlins. We’re going to highlight all of our guys.”

None of the team’s TV ads will feature players, continuing the approach the team used last year.

“If you look at the turnover in Major League Baseball, none of the rosters are the same,” Flynn said.

Flynn makes an excellent point. There’s massive player movement in the modern big leagues and today’s sophisticated fans are well versed in the business side of the game. Much the way fans of the New York Mets will slowly learn to accept all the new faces taking the field this April, the Marlins’ half dozen or so hardcore supporters will fall in love with their young club. Right around the time the moving van pulls up.