Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mulling Over Miami

The Florida Marlins fired their manager, Fredi Gonzalez, on Wednesday along with two of his coaches. It was quite a shock. And whenever shocking news happens, it takes a bit of contemplation to figure out what happened and why. Quotes from the principles who made the decision seem to make sense on the surface. In this story from Yahoo sports, Larry Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations said that the Marlins seemed stuck in neutral. That certainly seems true as the Marlins area .500 team (slightly under actually). But while that makes sense on the surface, it doesn't feel right.

For one thing, the Marlins have operated on a shoestring budget for years now. They had to be embarrassed by the union and MLB about their lack of spending on players before the season started. What can Beinfest and owner, Jeffrey Loria, expect when they fail to spend any money? Isn't that like buying hamburger and expecting it to be steak? They have one superstar on the field in Hanley Ramirez. They have one superstar in the starting rotation with Josh Johnson. But that talent is somewhat limited around them. In order for this team to win, everything has to go right. And sometimes it doesn't.

Loria's comments were almost comical: "Everyone knows how I feel about winning. That’s the reason we’re making this change.” Everyone knows how he feels about winning? Isn't that statement contradictory to the amount of money the team spends on talent? The Bay Rays do what the Marlins do but they are a bit smarter about it. The Marlins have remained competitive despite their payroll thanks in part to wise personnel management and...well...pretty good management on the field.

There weren't any bells going off about the managing ability of Fredi Gonzalez other than deep confusion about his first name. There have been reports about a feud between the manager and his mercurial shortstop. But that isn't unusual in baseball history. Though that in itself could have caused enough tension internally to end Gonzalez's job security. But besides the feud with his best player, Gonzalez seemed like a good game manager and made the right moves most of the time. And from some of the quotes of the players in the aftermath, they seemed to like and respect the man. So a lot of this doesn't make sense.

So there is a need to break down why this really occurred. And the reasons seem to fall under two possible scenarios, neither of which seem very savory:

1. Hanley wanted him gone.
2. Loria is delusional that his team can carry the day when he shorthands them in every way he can.

Another team president immediately mentioned Bobby Valentine as a person of interest. But the Marlins will have to interview a few minority candidates especially since the departed manager was in that category (which is one of the shames of this story). It would be hard to imagine Valentine desiring this situation in light of the Marlins' budget constraints and with Loria's recent treatment of Joe Girardi and now Fredi Gonzalez. But stranger things have happened. Valentine is known as a disciplinarian. Would that work with Hanley Ramirez? Good luck with that.

No, this move doesn't feel right and it seemed pointless. The Marlins are still going to come in third either way.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

Gonzalez will land back on his feet. I think he's a pretty good manager. They used him as the scapegoat. But everyone knows it's not his fault they haven't been able to take the next step. Loria simply does not spend enough money.