Will: Marlins Blame Game
Owner Jeffrey Loria deserves most blame
The Marlins have become an absolute circus. As if a season that has been a major disappointment couldn’t get even worse, it has in the last week.
In that time, the current manager has ripped the owner, a former manager chimed in with some criticism, the demoted closer said he can’t respect his manager and reports surfaced that both the manager and president of baseball operations may get fired. You get all that?
It’s sometimes hard to follow all this drama. One man has the power to silence it all, but as usual, he’s only making it worse; owner Jeffrey Loria.
Before I get to Loria, let’s try and go through some of the issues that have come up. First of all, let’s start with manager Ozzie Guillen. As is normally the case with Ozzie, he’s having a hard time keeping his mouth shut. Then again, at least you know he never changes. The Marlins knew exactly what they were getting when they made him their manager.
Guillen was quoted as saying that Loria should look into the mirror as to why he keeps changing managers. Meantime, former manager Fredi Gonzalez, now the Atlanta Braves skipper, basically said the same thing. Gonzalez went even further by saying that no manager could ever please Loria. The Marlins owner responded by saying Gonzalez was “classless” and called his time in South Florida a “colossal failure.”
Of course, Loria is wrong. Gonzalez is the winningest manager in team history, and he had a near .500 record with a team that was constantly keeping a low payroll. Also, I’ve covered few guys with more class than Gonzalez, but that didn’t stop Loria from snapping back. He easily could have taken the high road, but that doesn’t seem to be in his DNA.
I know what some of you might be thinking? Wait, doesn’t Guillen deserve blame in all this for not keeping his mouth quiet? Well, the answer is yes and no.
As I mentioned earlier, Guillen speaking out comes with the package. His shtick is much easier to handle when you’re winning baseball games, but when you’re losing games, he comes across as a loudmouth fool. Loria is a whole different story. He never seems to side with his managers, and that’s a big reason why he’s constantly firing them.
At some point, Loria needs to tell and show his players that the manager is in control of the clubhouse, not the other way around. He did the same thing when Hanley Ramirez basically ran Gonzalez out of town because the manager was always hard on the star player. The owner now has another chance to stand up for his manager.
Enter, Heath Bell. The Marlins signed him for 27 million dollars in the offseason to be their star closer. Instead, he’s been one of the biggest reasons the team’s season has been a disaster. Bell blew save after save to begin the season and basically ruined any chance of Miami being a contending team in the first half of the year. He was rightfully demoted for his awful performance.
Yet, Bell actually had the audacity to go on the radio Monday and say he didn’t respect Guillen. The same Guillen who tried to defend the closer while he slumped early in the year, and the same Guillen who kept Bell as the closer far too long.
Somehow, Bell doesn’t respect that. He feels he should have gotten a better chance to regain his job in the 2nd half. Of course, Bell is forgetting the man who replaced him, Steve Cishek, has done a solid job in the role. Again, blame it on Ozzie, instead of looking in the mirror. If Bell did look in the mirror, he’d see an out of shape, overpaid guy who should only blame himself for his struggles.
Will Loria and the Marlins come to Ozzie’s defense? We’ll have to wait and see. But, I don’t think we’ll have to wait much longer for this; Loria will likely fire Guillen, just like he did Gonzalez and Joe Girardi before him. I’m not even counting the soft spoken Edwin Rodriguez. He had no chance under the Marlins owner.
The one name I haven’t mentioned in this entire story is Larry Beinfest. Remember him? He’s the one-time General Manager of the team and current President of Baseball Operations. It’s a fancy title, but basically he’s in charge of finding players and putting together the roster.
Beinfest has a good reputation in baseball as a man who has been asked to put together competitive teams at a discount. He’s earned that rep and done a good job for most of his Marlins career. But, of late, he’s failed miserably. This offseason he was given a big payroll to sign players, and he came up with the mess that was the Marlins roster. He decided that Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes wasn't worth the money. All Cespedes has done is carry the A's into being one of the best teams in baseball. Beinfest also continued to make trades that don’t seem to pay off. Matt Dominguez for Carlos Lee, anyone?
If you really want to make a change somewhere, wouldn’t it start with the people putting together the roster? Guillen could only do so much. To me, a manager is worth maybe 5-7 wins per season. That would still put the Marlins at about 10 games under .500 and out of the playoff race. Any way you slice it, this roster was never going to work.
When asked about reports Beinfest could be fired, Loria laughed it off. It seems his job is safe.
Beinfest was the architect of this group. If Loria wants to give him another shot, sure, go ahead, but why not also give Guillen another shot with a better roster? Again, these are questions that seem obvious to answer, but nothing is easy when it comes to Loria. Well, other than firing managers.
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