Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Marlins hope manager change pays off, as it has before

MLB.com @philgrogers

There are always plenty of people to blame when a manager gets let go. But a headphone-wearing fan down the left-field line at Wrigley Field?

Why not? Steve Bartman, the unfortunate Cubs fan who was found by a foul ball in 2003, seems as good of a place as any to start in explaining why Jeffrey Loria would dismiss Mike Redmond only 38 games into the Miami Marlins' season.

There are always plenty of people to blame when a manager gets let go. But a headphone-wearing fan down the left-field line at Wrigley Field?

Why not? Steve Bartman, the unfortunate Cubs fan who was found by a foul ball in 2003, seems as good of a place as any to start in explaining why Jeffrey Loria would dismiss Mike Redmond only 38 games into the Miami Marlins' season.

When managerial changes happen before Memorial Day, they're almost always Hail Mary plays called in the faint hope of salvaging a season. They almost never serve that purpose, but you can't blame Loria for dwelling on one that did.

On May 11, 2003, the Marlins were 16-22 -- coincidentally, the same record they had after almost being no-hit by Shelby Miller and the Braves on Sunday -- and Loria dismissed Jeff Torborg to give organizational wise man Jack McKeon a chance to manage.

It started one of the least likely runs to a championship in history, with the Marlins going 75-49 under McKeon to grab a National League Wild Card spot, beat the Giants in the NL Division Series, shock the Cubs in the NL Championship Series (with Bartman a part of an epic Game 6 collapse) and defeat the Yankees in the World Series. So don't try to tell Loria that changing managers won't rewrite the storyline after a disappointing loss; he's seen for himself that it can.

Redmond is the latest example of a once-popular manager failing to survive Loria's burning desire to recreate the magical ride he experienced in 2003. His replacement will become the sixth full-time manager in the 10 years since McKeon retired for the first time after 2005 (not counting interim stints by Brandon Hyde and McKeon in 2011) and the third still on the payroll. Loria is obligated to Ozzie Guillen and Redmond, who is under contract through '17 after signing a two-year extension last September. The Marlins have never had a manager last four full seasons in their 23-year history.

Before Loria persuaded Giancarlo Stanton to accept a 13-year, $325 million contract (in which Miami would only be responsible for $107 million over six years if Stanton exercises an opt-out clause), Redmond was the best thing that the Marlins had going for them.

"Red,'' as he's known, had done great work in the past two years after being promoted from a stint managing in Miami's farm system. He had a stripped-down roster with a $46 million payroll at .500 as late as Aug. 25 last season even though 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Award winner Jose Fernandez was lost to Tommy John surgery after only eight starts.

But the Stanton contract extension was followed by series of roster moves that raised the franchise's expectations to levels that proved costly for Redmond and bench coach Rob Leary, who was also dismissed after Sunday's loss, which was the 10th in 14 games.

Newcomer Dee Gordon is leading the NL in hitting, but the lineup hasn't become as dangerous as hoped. The Marlins entered Sunday 10th in the NL with a .707 OPS despite Stanton having hit 11 home runs (Miami is 3-7 when he homers). Mat Latos, another key acquisition, lasted only two-thirds of an inning in the second game of the season and hasn't escaped his funk. Steve Cishek has lost his job as closer after converting only three of seven chances.

These are the things that can get a manager dismissed, especially one working in Miami. But the team states this change is genuinely about hope for the team's immediate future, not any of the things that have happened under Redmond.

"Hopefully a new voice will spark and motivate our guys to play as capable as we know they are of playing,'' Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill wrote on the team's Twitter account.

Spark. And motivate.

Really? That's the reason for this change?

You can try harder only if you really aren't trying, and Redmond is the type of blue-collar manager who can keep players busting it. His players played hard. They didn't get their share of big hits (.256 with runners in scoring position compared to .280 otherwise) but had a winning record in one-run games (6-5) despite Cishek's problems. This was not a team in full retreat. It lacks an ace but figures to get Fernandez back in July, maybe even late June.

Loria and his baseball staff, Hill and GM Dan Jennings in particular, know how different this team looks with Fernandez on the mound. Two years ago, Miami was 18-10 in his starts and 44-90 otherwise.

It's the chance to pair Fernandez and Stanton as the leaders of a contending team that motivates Marlins management. Maybe a managerial change will help that happen. The one in 2003 certainly worked.

But until that does happen or evidence surfaces to justify this change, it looks like the work of a team that is grasping at straws rather than having conviction in its plan.

Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.