Florida needs to pick manager it can live with
This wasn’t an Edwin Rodriguez problem, it was a Marlins problem, the kind that kills a season in a month, and I find it hard to believe a fighter like Rodriguez would walk out of a clubhouse one morning, leaving it for 25 ballplayers and a coaching staff to clean up. The job was either that miserable or that hopeless. Both, apparently.
Rodriguez resigned Sunday morning, hours before the Marlins would play the Tampa Bay Rays. Bench coach Brandon Hyde took over while management rooted around for a suitable interim, which is exactly what Rodriguez was – first in title, then in proximity – for nearly a year.
Maybe that’s Jack McKeon, the club’s 80-year-old on-call handyman. Maybe it’s Hyde, the 37-year-old former interim bench coach turned titular bench coach. Maybe president Larry Beinfest takes another shot at Bobby Valentine or Bo Porter and discovers stability. Maybe they’re just waiting on Ozzie Guillen, though you wonder just how long the Marlins are going to put off permanence in the name of … a name.
Hyde – who might last a game, a week, or more – is their eighth manager in a little more than a decade, counting the interims. The next guy would be the ninth, assuming they don’t re-hire John Boles, Tony Perez, Jeff Torborg, McKeon, Joe Girardi or Fredi Gonzalez.
Just the other day, Rodriguez was telling Marlins writers that his clubhouse lacked a veteran leader, someone like Carlos Delgado(notes) or Luis Gonzalez. What they have instead is a loaded, talented roster of young men finding their way, certainly good enough to win, perhaps too raw to understand how.
So when a three-game losing streak becomes nine, or when a four-day slump seemingly won’t ever end, what passes for calm and conviction is a change at hitting coach and manager, one with a one-year contract who’s had enough.
The Marlins went from second place to last in 10 days, from two out to 12 ½ out in two weeks. In their June gloom, in 18 games (and 17 losses) they’ve scored 55 runs (15th in the National League) and batted .232. Over the same stretch, the pitching staff has a 5.22 ERA, worst in the league.
This was the same team that stuck with the Philadelphia Phillies for two months, even with Ramirez struggling to bat .200 and Johnson, despite pitching exceptionally well, having won three games (before going to the disabled list).
‘Tis the season, of course.
Since June 8, across the league there have been seven changes at manager, hitting coach or pitching coach. Jon Nunnally, Cleveland’s hitting coach, was fired Sunday morning after 24 games in which the Indians scored 71 runs and were shut out six times. Hitting coaches in Texas (Thad Bosley) and, of course, Florida (John Mallee) are out. Oakland manager Bob Geren was fired 10 days ago. Baltimore pitching coach Mark Connor resigned on June 14, the same day Houston pitching coach Brad Arnsberg was fired.
That’s six organizations seeking answers, seeking a way toward sustained relevance. The Marlins always seem to do it the hard way, with low payrolls and high turnover to go with their exceedingly rich farm system. Now they strain to make something of the opening of their new ballpark next season and the next shiny revenue stream, which now won’t include Rodriguez.
That’s fine. He’s a good man and was a decent-enough manager. But, now that he’s gone, maybe it’s time the Marlins hire a guy they can live with, whose philosophies can take root, whose strength is something they can all believe in.
Maybe that’s Porter. Maybe that’s Valentine. Or even Hyde. Hell, it’s just time to pick a guy – the right guy – and stick with him.
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