Jeffrey Loria has a nasty habit of firing his managers. With yesterday’s ax of Mike Redmond, GM Dan Jennings becomes the Marlins’ sixth manager since 2010, and marks Loria’s fifth in-season managing change dating back to 2001 with the Expos.
Firing managers at the first sign of trouble doesn’t come cheap, either. Ozzie Guillen, who managed just one year for the Marlins way back in 2012, is still on the payroll. Mike Redmond’s contract was extended through 2017 after last season. (They’re also still paying Larry Beinfest, who was two, maybe three whole GMs ago by this point. The Marlins receive more revenue-sharing funds than just about any other team, and those other teams reportedly aren’t too happy with how Loria has chosen to spend his money.)
So, Dan Jennings becomes the man to take over an underachieving squad that’s been missing its two best starting pitchers. This is a glorious gift to fans of Miami dysfunctionality, because Dan Jennings is not a manager. He’s not a coach. He’s a GM and a former hall-of-fame scout, a lifelong personnel man with one solitary stop on a bench: just after college, Jennings managed Davidson High School in Mobile, Ala. He learned quickly that his skills lied in identifying good players, and not in telling them what to do. Jeffery Loria doesn’t care.
Fox Sports’s Ken Rosenthal, who is the first (likely of many) to call this a terrible, no good, very bad decision, says Jennings probably had very little say in the matter.
So, why the heck would Jennings become the Marlins’ manager, on an interim basis or otherwise, when by any reasonable measure he is not qualified for the position?
Because Loria wants him to.
Loria has treated Jennings extremely well, awarding him, along with former GM Larry Beinfest, an eight-year contract through 2015 at the end the 2007 season. Jennings, in turn, is extremely loyal to Loria. My strong hunch is that Jennings is taking this job out of obligation, not because he considers it a particularly good idea.
Nobody tells Loria “no.”
The Marlins hiring a manager with no managerial experience—no coaching experience—is a gift. It is something that would have happened in the 1970s, that you’d read about today with envy, wondering how something that weird or inexplicable could have been allowed to occur. But this is no gauzy throwback to baseball’s longhaired days—this is 2015, and the Marlins are thinking so far outside the box, they might never be able to put it back in.
The move will come in for ridicule from around baseball, but it may be no laughing matter at the Park Avenue headquarters. Jennings’s hiring would seem to have circumvented the “Selig Rule” requiring teams to at least consider minority candidates for positions including manager.
The choice is outrageous. And an insult. And a slap at every person qualified to be a major-league manager, not just minorities.
I am eager to see how Manfred responds.
I am eager to see how the Marlins respond to the new guy, who’ll presumably have to learn on the job. One watching the team’s direction very closely: Giancarlo Stanton, who signed a record-shattering deal with the assurance that the franchise’s days of hitting self-destruct were over, but negotiated himself a 2020 opt-out clause just in case.