Marlins owner Jeff Loria is nothing if not impulsive and dismissive of things like plans, continuity and logic when it comes to running his baseball teams, so why not do something like this? Jon Heyman of CBS and Joe Frisaro of MLB.com are reporting that the Marlins intend to name their current general manager, Dan Jennings, as the replacement for Mike Redmond in the Miami dugout. The announcement is supposed to happen at 11AM this morning.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Mike Goff, a longtime friend of Jennings’ and current advance scout for the Marlins will be Jennings’ bench coach. Goff managed in the Reds and Giants organizations. Jennings’ general manager role will be filled by assistant GM Mike Berger with team president Mike Hill pitching in.
Jennings has not managed or coached anywhere since a stint as a high school coach in Alabama 30 years ago. Since 1986 he has climbed the scouting ladder, eventually joining the Marlins front office in 2002. He finally completed his climb to GM in 2013, and remains a loyal soldier to Loria, carrying out his rebuilds, splurges and fire sales. As Ken Rosenthal notes here, Jennings’ very act of accepting the job is likely due to that loyalty more than some notion that the move makes any kind of sense.
And it doesn’t make sense. Yes, there have been some low-or-no experience managers hired in recent years — Mike Redmond was one of them — but they had all at least played baseball at a high level, which Jennings has not. Given that a manager’s primary job these days, or at least so the conventional wisdom goes, is to maintain harmony and order in the dugout and in the clubhouse, not having worked in a professional dugout or clubhouse, ever, puts Jennings at a serious disadvantage.
Craig Counsell, Mike Matheny, Brad Ausmus, Matt Williams, Robin Ventura and others all have an air of authority to them based on their playing careers that, their inexperience managing notwithstanding, provides them instant credibility with players. Jennings has none of that. And he likely cut, traded or dealt in a tough manner with some of these guys, because that was his job as GM. Where does his authority come from if not his experience as a coach or manager or his stature as a guy who has been there and done that?
From Jeff Loria’s caprice, I guess. His arrogance. Maybe his cheapness, too, as the Marlins are currently paying Ozzie Guillen and Redmond to not manager their club. Since Jennings was already on the payroll, this saves Loria some coin, I suppose.
It also provides the second example in the space of two weeks of a major league team hiring a relatively inexperienced white manager without first considering qualified minority candidates as per the Selig Rule. We didn’t hear a peep when the Brewers did it. Will we with the Marlins? Especially considering that literally any candidate, minority or otherwise, is more qualified than Dan Jennings.
Maybe the Marlins will skate there. After all, this is a team owned by a guy who, for whatever reason, was allowed to destroy one team in Montreal and then, as a thank you for his services, was literally given money by Major League Baseball to buy the Marlins, who he has mismanaged for a decade. I guess someone at the league office loves the guy.
And I guess some other teams might get the benefit of the doubt with a move this unconventional. The Marlins, however, and especially Jeff Loria, have done nothing to earn that benefit. And unlike the folks at MLB, fans and observers have no reason to cut Loria and the Marlins any slack.
Good luck, Dan Jennings. You’ll need it.