The Miami Marlins latest victim, a.k.a new manager, is one that is if nothing else is a bizarre and whacky choice for this team.
The Marlins announced today that they are hiring their general manager Dan Jennings to succeed the fired Mike Redmond as the new skipper for the franchise. This hire is a strange one even for this franchise, which has a notorious stigma of being one that goes through managers like it is going out of style.
The names bandied about were impressive. From the likes of Dusty Baker, Bo Porter, Jeff Conine, Bobby Valentine and third base coach Brett Butler. Yet none of them reportedly had even a conversation with any members of the Marlins brass. All that great experience and wisdom these former managers and coaches have could certainly have been a huge help to this current clubhouse if the Marlins had decided to go the experienced, seasoned manager route. Miami did not even go the hire a young manager and hope they catch lightening in a bottle route, which seemed like would have been one of the first options to be explored.
Leave it to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and the front office to make their own general manager the new manager of the ball club. Mind you, Jennings has none, zero managerial experience at any level of baseball. That is not a typo, he has been a baseball executive for most of his career outside of the small amount of time he was a coach 30 plus years ago at his high school in Alabama.
The job of a manager is a 24 hour commitment and one that involves building and maintaining open communication with the players and having a good rapport with them, being up to date and prepared on all game situations that could come into play during any game on the schedule. It also entails getting that entire roster ready to face an opponents for three or four games at a time, having them drilled and aware of the strengths and weaknesses of a particular ball club.
This job is far from one that would be suited for easing someone with no experience into. This is not to say the general manager’s job is not difficult and taxing. That job too requires round the clock commitment and being bale to use specific skills that can shape the prospects of a ball club in the long and short run. Both jobs are ones that cannot be done by one single person. It has proven in the past when clubs tried having that setup only to have it fail miserably and require a general manager to come in and take over those duties.
The Marlins have yet to say who will replace Jennings as GM for the time being. There are plenty of options within the organization who can step in and run that part of the baseball operations without too many hiccups.
Jennings comes off as an enthusiastic, eager man who is ready to take this challenge on, which is great but does not mean he can turn around the fortunes of this middling ball club. If players look to him for some advice or help with a certain situation, how will they be able to take him seriously knowing he has never been in the dugout before, leading a team day in and day out.
Though Jennings did some spend time as a professional baseball player, he did not have this long and glorious career that he can lean back on and be able to relate to the Marlins players when a situation confronts them in game or during the season. He was the man who brought them to Miami or drafted them but that is it. This hire puts the players in an even worse bind than when they had Redmond as skipper. Now there will have to be a transition for all parties involved as Jennings figures his way around being a manager and what he must do in order to be at least a serviceable one.
Miami is 16-23 currently tied for last place in the N.L. East and with plenty of season left and some key pieces coming back, could stand to make themselves be in the mix for a wild card spot but by looking at how inconsistent they have been through the first 38 games, there is not a lot of confidence that that scenario could come to reality.
This experiment in hiring a manager outside of the box of this magnitude will be interesting to see unfold as well approach the summer months of the baseball season. If more of the same average to below average play continues, Loria could get that itchy trigger finger; go out and go back to the drawing board and try to find another manager and fix this downtrodden team, which has talent and ability on it, but no direction.
So once again the Marlins start new at the manager’s position, and this certainly will not be the last time we deal with this situation, maybe not even this season if Loria has any more crazy moves.