Someone needs to appear accountable for the Miami Marlins stinking and owner Jeffrey Loria isn't going to fire himself. So instead, Loria did Friday what many inside baseball were expecting and fired Larry Beinfest, the team's president of baseball operations.
"Larry has worked with me for 13 years, making huge contributions to our efforts and serving as a partner to me in the process. I wish him nothing but the best and know he will make a great addition wherever he lands," Loria said in a statement published on MLB.com.
Beinfest had been with the Marlins since 2002, when he was brought on as general manager and senior vice president. He was an assistant GM with the Montreal Expos before that, so he's been by Loria's side for a while. Beinfest was GM when the Marlins won the World Series in 2003 and in 2007 was promoted to president of baseball operations.
As you well know, everything is not hunky-dory in Miami. The team has lost 100 games this year (and counting) after shedding most of the stars from its roster the past couple seasons. Reports have been circulating that Loria was making baseball decisions, i.e. butting into Beinfest's job.
For a few weeks now, Beinfest had been pegged as the scapegoat for the Marlins' ugly season. It got to the point earlier this week that Beinfest went on the radio in Miami and said all the rumors of his demise were weighing on him. Craig Davis of the SunSentinel summarized the radio interview:
"I think the tumultuous part and unsettling part is reading about it and living it everyday. You know I'm a person just like anybody else. I have a wife and kids and all that good stuff. It can definitely grate on you," Beinfest said.
Reports have circulated for the second year in a row that Beinfest’s job was in jeopardy. It was reported last week that he confronted owner Jeffrey Loria and asked him to decide about his status one way or the other. Beinfest said Tuesday that he wanted to keep his conversations with Loria internal because that's the professional thing to do, but naturally reading those things get to him.
“A lot of things are out there. I’m not going to respond to them,” Beinfest said. “Let’s face it, this hasn’t been pleasant, I don’t think for Jeffrey or for the organization the last couple of weeks reading all these things. We have an attendance-challenged building, a 100-loss team and there’s a lot of things to worry about here. I’m not sure that I’m necessarily at the top of the list.”
He sounded like a man who knew his fate was coming, and just wanted to get it over with. Loria also announced the Marlins fired Jim Fleming, Beinfest's assistant. Loria then promised "further announcements" about the team's new baseball operations structure. Loria didn't announce it, but USA Today's Bob Nightengale is reporting that Dan Jennings, the Marlins assistant GM and vice president of player personnel, will take over for Beinfest.