Yesterday, the Miami Marlins unexpectedly fired manager Mike Redmond (and bench coach, Rob Leary) after nearly being no hit by Shelby Miller and the Braves. Redmond (155-207) was the Marlins’ manager from 2013 until yesterday and finished fifth in NL Manager of the Year Award voting just last year.
The decision, not unlike the Brewers’ managerial change, was not a result of the game itself, but was reportedly an internal discussion since the team got off to a shaky (3-11) start. Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill said that the team was looking for a new voice to spark and motivate the players into performing up to their capabilities – something they’ve failed to do, thus far.
With high profile names like Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Ron Washington, Bobby Valentine and Dusty Baker mentioned, rumors of Redmond’s replacement began to swirl immediately. Which big name would it be? Would it be shocking?
Yup. To the second part, anyway. The new manager of the Miami Marlins … is the Marlins’ own general manager, Dan Jennings.
Jennings has been involved in baseball for over 30 years, serving as the team’s general manager for the last two, but has never played in the majors and has never been a manager at any level. Er … well … sort of. Apparently, Jennings was a High School baseball coach in Mobile, Alabama in the 1980s, but I’m not so sure that will prepare him for what’s next. (Bob Nightengale does a good job underscoring just how crazy this hiring is.)
With the hiring, Jennings becomes the sixth manager for the Miami Marlins since 2010, and may in fact return to the front office at the end of the season.
On the unexpected choice of Jennings to manage the team, team president David Samson said, “There’s nowhere else to look anymore. We’re running out [of choices].” That isn’t exactly the most glowing review, but it does underscore just how many managers Miami has gone through over the past several seasons (hey, the Cubs have had 5 in that stretch) and how unusual Jennings is as a replacement. On the optimistic side, Michael Hill believes that Jennings is a knowledgeable leader that knows the players better than anyone else. While that may be true, it still feels like quite a risky, impatient and quintessentially Marlins move. You have to wonder how he will fit in with the players.
Expected to contend for the Wild Card at the beginning of the season, the Marlins (16-22) have certainly dug themselves a hole. They still have a talented, young team – and it’s still so very early – but the slow start and unexpected managerial change may drive them off course.
It’s important to remember, though, that one manager can only make so much of a difference, over the course of a season. We haven’t yet perfectly quantified that impact, but we do know that it is fairly small. Additionally, Jennings is a baseball guy. He never made it to the majors, but some of the best managers didn’t either. He hasn’t been a coach, but he has worked in a front office and is likely more capable than the credit he’s been given. All of this is to say that even though this feels like a wacky, reactionary decision, it probably won’t hurt the Marlins too much over their remaining 124 games.