Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Marlins Fire Manager Fredi Gonzalez

  • Ruthless:

The Florida Marlins have fired manager Fredi Gonzalez, bench coach Carlos Tosca and hitting coach Jim Presley----Fish Tank Blog.

It's not as if this should come as any great shock. Having been speculated that Gonzalez was in trouble as early as last summer while the Marlins were in surprising (to some; not me) contention for the playoffs, there was always an "organizational success" feel around the Marlins; the implication that the job of the manager, while important, was only part of why the club was doing well.

I'm long an admirer of the way the Marlins do business with a profound lack of sentimentality and a Godfather-style brutality necessary to maintain order; they're a club that deserves more of a pass than others for making such a decision that simultaneously appears unfair and capricious. There should be no misunderstanding when taking the Marlins managerial job that any and all employees are expendable.

Even if the new manager is Bobby Valentine (with whom the talks and flirtation occurred last year), he'll understand that his power plays and Machiavellian nature of subtly twisting things into his favor won't have the desired effect in the Marlins hierarchy; in fact, regardless of how successful he is, it might get him fired too.

Owner Jeffrey Loria is criticized for reasons I've never quite understood. He's a businessman; and he runs the Marlins like a business. In 2003, he fired Jeff Torborg, a close friend, because the club was stagnant and staggering; hiring seasoned baseball man and longtime underrated manager Jack McKeon----a Hall of Fame candidate for his contribution to baseball----the Marlins went on to win the World Series.

Loria gave Joe Girardi his first opportunity to manage in 2006. Girardi did a terrific job disciplining the young Marlins players despite the natural strategic and personal gaffes that accompany a strong-willed individual in his first job without any prior experience----but Loria fired Girardi even after he won Manager of the Year because of organizational in-fighting.

Is is any surprise he and club president Larry Beinfest are ready and willing to make a change where other organizations might look back to Gonzalez's success and that he has a contract for next year and be afraid of the criticism inherent with a bold maneuver? Or that Gonzalez is a prime candidate to be managing against the Marlins in 2011 with a Braves team loaded with young talent?

This is all part of what's made the Marlins the Marlins. The go-for-it attitude without fear of repercussions and public perception. This team that has no regard for what a middling player has done for them in the past and cuts ties when they've ceased being effective. They use their players for as long as they're beneficial and toss them over the balcony when done with them. This same team went after Roy Halladay last summer to try and steal another championship and has no fear of doing anything and everything, including firing the manager.

This is what they do. You can't dole out credit for the Marlins being the Marlins and pass criticism for the exact same thing. On the surface, yes, it's insane and unfair to fire Gonzalez, but they don't care. There's an innate feel to the way they run the club that is successful. It's not based on any one philosophy as the stat zombies or old-school advocates promote as the end all and be all with no room for deviation; by any means necessary, the Marlins find players...and dispatch them. The same holds true with their on-field personnel.

The Marlins are of the opinion they have a championship level club.

Do they?

They have plenty of talent that has been underperforming; and if anyone suggested that the 2003 team was "championship level" on June 23rd of that year when they had a record of 38-39, were 12 games out of first place and 7 games out of the Wild Card, what would've been said?

They have the talent to contend, but bullpen failures and a lack of continuity in performance has been their undoing. By that I mean, they've hit, but gotten bad pitching; pitched, but failed to hit; done both, but poor defense has done them in. Could a new manager change the tone? The feeling in the clubhouse? Just a change for changes sake sometimes has the desired effect; the only way to tell is in retrospect.

Talk will be centered around Hanley Ramirez having "won" the power struggle with Gonzalez after the public dust-up the manager had with his star player after Ramirez failed to hustle after a kicked ball and was subsequently benched; I don't see the firing as being a result of that; Ramirez is considered Loria's proverbial "son" within the club, but that didn't stop the Marlins from supporting Gonzalez in the disciplinary act or from sending Andre Dawson and Tony Perez to threaten some sense into the recalcitrant star.

In reality, Gonzalez actually won that battle. He stood on principle; garnered respect throughout baseball because he disciplined the star knowing that upper management wasn't enamored of him personally and that Ramirez was close with the owner; and will be seen as someone who's not a puppet of the front office, someone who has the players backs independent of what's best for Gonzalez as an individual; they also know he won't hesitate to kick them in the backside when necessary.

Fredi Gonzalez won't be out of work long.

Edwin Rodriguez has been named the interim manager. Rodriguez had brief cups of coffee in the big leagues as a player in the early 80s and has managed and coached in the minor leagues for over ten years according to the above linked blog. The flirtation with Bobby Valentine and his continuing availability puts the speculation squarely on him.

The Marlins are ruthless; brutal and act quickly. That's why they're so good at what they do.

  • The reasoning was insipid, the but decision was fine:

Again Mets manager Jerry Manuel is under fire for his decisions and the haphazard way he's seen to handle his pitchers. The paranoia with young pitchers doesn't begin and end in the Bronx with the "Hughes Rules" being implemented.

It's epidemic and everyone's an expert.

Because Manuel allowed Jonathon Niese to go back out to the mound after a rain delay of nearly an hour, he's being savaged as foolish for risking the health of the 23-year-old rookie. Like much of what he says, Manuel's reasoning was ridiculous. According to the recap in the NY Times----link----Manuel would've removed Niese had the delay been an hour (it was 58 minutes); or had he reached 50 pitches (he threw 45).

Yes. It's nonsense. But that doesn't mean it was crazy to let Niese go back out and pitch. As a trained athlete who's supposed to be in peak condition to perform, are you seriously going to tell me that his arm is going to fall off if he sits for an hour and goes back out to pitch? Really?

Joe Girardi was blamed for a similar "mistake" with Josh Johnson when Johnson was allowed to return to a game after a relatively brief delay (ironically against the Mets) and needed Tommy John surgery after. Blaming Girardi for Johnson's injury was as ludicrous as the idea that Niese should've been yanked. This is all due to the entreaties of a growing monolith that believes calculations, facts, figures and cookie-cutter handling for every situation is the way everything should be run.

And it shouldn't.

People with a forum and a lack of knowledge are ever-present; it's up to you to determine which voices are credible and which should be disregarded. Reading, regurgitation and self-proclaimed knowledge doesn't make one an expert, but sadly, many think that it does and it's never going to end with the armchair geniuses that permeate the world today in sports and elsewhere.

My podcast appearance from last Saturday with Jeff and his crew at Red State Blue State is up as is my appearance with Sal at SportsFan Buzz. Click on the site link or click here.

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here. You can also now get it for less that five bucks on BN via download here.


She-Fan said...

Bobby Valentine for Marlins manager!

Jeff said...

Ruthless is right.

If I lived in South Florida, I'd be a season ticket holder... the Marlins -- if nothing else -- make the business side of the sport exciting. I dig it.