Outside of Arlington: Manager Mayhem in Miami

It’s been a whole forty-eight hours since news came down the pipeline that a new manager was taking over for the Miami Marlins. The dust from the shock has settled, and I feel I can react more appropriately than I did during the announcement’s infancy. Let’s recap.

When Sunday ended, the Marlins and then-manager Mike Redmond had just come one out away from being no-hit by Atlanta’s Shelby Miller, except Justin Bour broke up the bid with a poke up the middle. That wasn’t going to be much comfort to the Fish, as Miami dropped the game 6-0, falling to a record of 16-22. That was too much for Miami management.

Mike Redmond was fired immediately after the game. Redmond had played for twelve years in the bigs, seven of them with Miami, being a part of the World Series team that Rangers’ beloved catcher Pudge Rodriguez started for. When he was hired in November of 2012, it was viewed as absolutely the right move for the club. They had just released Ozzie Guillen, an understandable move, given not only the club’s poor performance in 2012, but also because of his inflammatory comments regarding Fidel Castro. I’m getting off track.

Redmond was a fan favorite, a guy who had been a Marlin, but more importantly, a former catcher who knew the front office, wasn’t too far removed from his playing days, and had been a student of such managerial greats as Jim Leyland, Jack McKeon, and Ron Gardenhire. The deal was for three years. In his tenure, the Marlins were 155-207 – hardly amazing, but from 2012 to 2013, Redmond led the team to a fifteen game improvement and the club was seen on the verge of a breakout, competitive season. Then came the slow start for 2015, and Jeffery Loria cut ties with Redmond.

Speculation ran rampant amongst the beat writing community, with names such as Dusty Baker, former Marlin and current TV guy Jeff Conine, and even former manager Ozzie Guillen being tossed into the Twitter-verse as candidates. In the end, any of those choices would have made far more sense than the name that started becoming more prominent Monday morning.

Indeed, it was General Manager Dan Jennings that got promoted (demoted?) to on-field Manager of the Miami Marlins. During the press conference, Loria and President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill stated that they felt the team had lost direction and accountability under Redmond. They were looking for someone who really knew the team, and well, who better than the guy who hired them all?

Seriously? That’s going to be their criteria? They wanted the guy who followed the advice of dozens of scouts and had a bunch of other people’s money to play with and so brought on the current crop of Marlins players? Is that truly a motivating factor for a team?

“Well, DJ hired me, so that means I’m more motivated to play good baseball for him.”

Let’s look at the other “Free Agent” managers that Miami could have reached out to and contacted. Would they have been great fits for the club? Maybe not. Are they more qualified than Dan Jennings? Would they have been worth a look before Dan Jennings? Oh, hell yes.

  • Dusty Baker – Managerial Record: 20 years, 1671-1504 (.526). Playing time: 19-years.
  • Ron Gardenhire – Managerial Record: 12 years, 1068-1039 (.504). Playing time: 5-years.
  • Ron Roenicke – Managerial Record: 5 years, 342-331 (.508). Playing time: 8-years.
  • Ron Washington – Managerial Record: 7 years, 644-611 (.513). Playing time: 9-years.
  • Eric Wedge – Managerial Record: 11 years, 774-846 (.478).
  • Ozzie Guillen – Managerial Record: 8 years, 747-710 (.513). Playing time: 16-years.
  • Kirk Gibson – Managerial Record: 4 years, 353-375 (.485). Playing time: 16-years.

That’s just a handful off of the top of my head. The point is that all of these guys would have been far better candidates than Jennings. Let’s look at Jennings, by the way:

  • Dan Jennings – Managerial Record: 0 years, 0-0. Playing time: 0 years.

The managerial record isn’t really something of note – first time managers are always coming around. More shocking, to me, is that Jennings has zero experience on a professional baseball field (okay, after more research, he was in Spring Training for the Yankees’ Class A team). Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. He has not stepped foot between the lines.

What is Miami thinking?!

Is this just a move to create controversy? Certainly a team owned by Jeffrey Loria needs no help in that department. Is it a baseball move? Heck no – they just promoted one of their advanced scouts to be Jennings’ bench coach. Now they have two inexperienced guys flying their ship (Mike Goff was at least a bench coach for one year), and are down a scout. Was it to finally get a sense of stability with a familiar face in Jennings? Fat chance of that – Jennings himself is the seventh manager that the organization has seen since 2010. Do the math folks: that’s seven skippers in five years. Was it financially based?

Um…maybe. Jennings is someone already under payroll. With that in mind, remember that Ozzie Guillen is too – when he was released after the 2012 season, he had three years of guaranteed salary remaining. Mike Redmond is still under contract with Miami as well, financially speaking. Redmond, at the end of the 2014 season, signed a three-year extension through 2017. This makes the move to release the 44-year old that much more baffling. Redmond was obviously worth enough for the Marlins to think about him as a long-term piece. Apparently, 37 games was enough to change their mind.

The one area I could spend all day on, I can’t, because it just makes me too angry. The players are going to be HUGELY affected by this, if only in terms of potential lost. Believe me, they too see the names of the people I listed above, and I’m sure that someone like Adeiny Hechavarria or Dee Gordon would have flourished and loved to work with an infield whiz like Ron Washington. Or what would Ron Gardenhire’s influence do to a kid like Marcell Ozuna or Christian Yelich? Let’s not even get into how Giancarlo Stanton must be feeling. Remember, Stanton’s the guy that was very vocal about his displeasure of the direction the club was headed. Cooler heads have since prevailed, and Stanton is working with a record contract under his belt. But if you’re the front office, and your franchise player made it very clear that he would stay if the club made moves to win – well, you try crafting your sales pitch on Dan Jennings to Giancarlo Stanton.

I can’t think of a single beat writer, local to Miami or national, that thinks this is a savvy, smart, baseball decision. The only upside to be found is that there’s a clause in the pact that says if both sides agree that this really wasn’t a positive move, that DJ can go back into his old role. Everyone is in agreement that Jennings is a nice guy and probably knows who his players are. But there’s a difference in knowing the back of a man’s baseball card, and knowing the man.

What are your thoughts? Who would have made a better skipper than Dan Jennings? Does anyone have a positive spin on this? Leave a comment below, and thanks for joining me outside of Arlington.

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Matt Fisher
Matt Fisher is an Editor/Staff Writer for ShutdownInning. He is a baseball lifer, preferring to use the eye test and rely on the knowledge and analysis of baseball minds greater than his, while using relevant stats to encourage situational discussions. He is also co-host of The Most Valuable Podcast on the NextWave Radio Network, talking sports, entertainment, and sports entertainment.

While Matt's favorite team will always be his hometown Texas Rangers, he knows the ongoing story lines of every team in Major League Baseball. If you sit next to him at a game, be prepared to hear him try and do play-by-play. If you're famous and reading this, just know that he's not afraid to drop names.

Matt Fisher. ShutdownInning Editor/Staff Writer

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