18 May 2015

Jeffrey Loria & the Marlins continue to be a joke

The Miami Marlins fired their manager, Mike Redmond, on Saturday night. Considering the franchise's track record of managerial instability, particularly since Jeffrey Loria acquired the club in 2002 as they are now on their tenth manager since then (including Brandon Hyde who managed for one game in 2011), that in it of itself is not that surprising. However, what was a surprise was the man they hired to replace Redmond: Dan Jennings, the team's general manager.

Now it does not appear that Jennings is getting the full-time managerial gig as team president Michael Hill only said earlier today that Jennings will be the manager for the "remainder of the season." But even in the interim, this is a ridiculous move.

Jennings is widely respected as a baseball man and has a good reputation as a talent evaluator, he also has no experience playing professional baseball save for trying out for the Yankees in 1984 in spring training and his last managerial experience of any kind at any level came three decades ago at an Alabama high school. It is not unprecedented for a team to hire a manager without any managerial experience, it seems to be a recent trend in fact, but all of those recent hires of that ilk all were with players who had significant playing experience. Making the team's general manager the manager when that person has no playing or coaching experience is, to my knowledge, unprecedented.

Craig Calcaterra makes a great point about how that lack of an experience in a locker room could come back to haunt Jennings:
Craig Counsell, Mike Matheny, Brad Ausmus, Matt Williams, Robin Ventura and others all have an air of authority to them based on their playing careers that, their inexperience managing notwithstanding, provides them instant credibility with players. Jennings has none of that. And he likely cut, traded or dealt in a tough manner with some of these guys, because that was his job as GM. Where does his authority come from if not his experience as a coach or manager or his stature as a guy who has been there and done that?
But when you think about it, it is a total Loria move. Jennings, above all else, is loyal to Loria and as Ken Rosenthal suggests, Jennings likely took this job because the owner wanted him to. Whether or not if it will actually be true, it gives the appearance that Jennings may just be a Loria puppet. After all, we are talking about an owner that nearly fired Joe Girardi after being told to stop arguing with an umpire over balls and strikes. But at least for Loria is that as he is still paying Ozzie Guillen's contract as well as Redmond's (who just received an extension in September through 2017), he now has one less contract to pay for.

Not to mention that this move appears to be in violation of the "Selig Rule," which requires teams to consider minority candidates for high-profile positions, not shortly after the Milwaukee Brewers apparently violated said rule when hiring Craig Counsell as their new manager. And Rosenthal says that this move is "a slap at every person qualified to be a major-league manager, not just minorities."

Loria continues to be a joke, the likes of which has drawn the ire of his fellow owners for how he spends his money when he receives more in revenue sharing that anybody else. Sure, the Marlins have been a disappointment thus far at 16-22 and have lost six of their last seven but I don't think he deserved to be fired. They are without two of their top pitchers and their bullpen has been a mess thus far and he had the respect of the locker room.

As to whether Jennings will have the same sort of respect is very much the key question. There is a good amount of young talent on this ballclub, making this an intriguing job. As to whether this unorthodox and bizarre move can further develop said talent and put the Marlins back in the playoff hunt is still very much in the air but given the reputation that this franchise and their owner has, who knows what could be next.

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