The newest Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond, shown here when he played for the Cleveland Indians in 2010, will have a challenge in leading the Marlins well enough to avoid the ax from fickle owner Jeffrey Loria. - Jared Wickerham
Now that the Miami Marlins have hired their latest manager, can Mike Redmond finally be the manager that lasts longer than a fortnight at the helm of the Fish, or is he doomed to fail as many others before him have since 2006?
Mike Redmond has been hired as the newest manager of the Miami Marlins, replacing the fired Ozzie Guillen. With the hiring, the Fish are officially moving on from the troubled Guillen era that lasted only through 2012, and given the fact that the team traded a number of other important pieces of the 2012 era team, it is safe to say that the Marlins would like to move on to the 2013 era. With Redmond on board, they can do so with a new manager, and one that is completely different from his fiery, loudmouth predecessor.
Rather than being outspoken and brazen like Guillen, Redmond is considered something of a jokester in the clubhouse, and he figures to bring that sentiment to the Marlins this season. This piece by Yahoo's Jeff Passan demonstrates just one example of Redmond's hilarity in the clubhouse that should help a team that was down in the dumps for most of 2012.
For five years, whenever the Twins slipped into a deep funk, Mike Redmond, all 200 sloppy pounds of him, would put on batting gloves, socks and shoes – nothing else – and head down to the batting cage for a session of slump-busting nude batting practice. During his 13-year career as a backup catcher, Redmond’s ability to send a clubhouse into convulsions of laughter was every bit as valuable as his on-field contributions, which even he’ll admit were sparing.
Redmond figures to either implement regular naked batting practice or not do it at all this season, but his personality is such that you can expect a loose clubhouse atmosphere with the Marlins this season. For some players, perhaps this will help them "keep the pressure off" during the rigors of future years with the Fish.
But more importantly than how Redmond used to bust through slumps and how his jokes may fit in with the Marlins is whether the Marlins will have Redmond along long enough to establish that repertoire with the team. As we mentioned earlier in the year, the Marlins have had a problem recently in that they cannot keep a manager around long enough to establish himself on the job. Since the start of 2006, the team has had five managers at the helm for more than a few games at a time, four of whom were hired during an offseason, meaning they were not interim coaches. Between Joe Girardi, Fredi Gonzalez, Edwin Rodriguez, Jack McKeon, and Ozzie Guillen, the Marlins have run the gamut of personalities on the bench, yet none have stuck around for too long.
In the face of these odds, what can Redmond offer that will not have him fired in one or two years by a fickle Jeffrey Loria?
Well, there are only a few things that Redmond can affect as the manager of the Marlins. If he is an open-minded guy, perhaps he can get in on some of the minor advancements in baseball strategy that sabermetrics has looked into in the past few years. But even if he did all of those things, he could not guarantee the Marlins more than an extra win or two so in the standings tops. If the Marlins have their share of success under Redmond's watch, undoubtedly he would end up receiving a good deal of credit for those results, deservedly or not. But the team is currently at best "retooling" their roster and paring down payroll to $80 million from a franchise high last season. Sure, the team will improve this year, but without additional changes in personnel, it is hard to expect the Marlins to suddenly be an 80- or 90-win team in 2013.
The only other thing that Redmond can do for himself is establish a good rapport with the players and help keep clubhouse chemistry at its highest. Now I have no doubt that managers play a role and affect the game by helping players be happy, as it is a natural thing to expect a happy worker to do better than an unhappy one. Having said that, how much a manager can do with his tactics in this regard is a question I could not answer, and I would lean towards saying that the effect is also fairly minimal, much like the effect on in-game strategy is. The additional problem for Redmond is that the Marlins have already seen a number of personality types come around, so expecting new results from a potentially similar demeanor may be asking for trouble.
From the little we know of Redmond in the clubhouse, we can tell that he is not like Joe Girardi, who fits the New York Yankees' strict, business-like style that Jeffrey Loria has always wanted to impose here in Miami. Similarly, he is not a hot-head who may get in the faces of his players like Guillen would have, so we can expect fewer call-outs via the media or behind closed doors than we may have seen in 2006 or 2012. Redmond's fun-loving personality lends itself a little less towards the fairly emotionless player's manager in Edwin Rodriguez, who never said or did a thing about anyone if you ask any Marlins fan.
The one manager Redmond most likely resembles from the past is actually the one that lasted the longest with the Fish, Fredi Gonzalez. Gonzalez was often clueless on the field, but he had a quiet demeanor off of it that was similar to Rodriguez's and unlike what we might expect from Redmond, who may be more of a joker like Guillen was with the media. Still, Redmond and Gonzalez shared a familiarity with the Marlins and their organization. Gonzalez managed in the Marlins' minor league system for a long time in the late 1990's before getting his shot at being a coach with the Atlanta Braves and eventually becoming the Marlins' manager in 2007. Redmond spent time in the minors while Gonzalez was a manager, and he spent even more time with the team at the major league level. That has to be an advantage when it comes to this team's desire to keep him, as the Marlins already made it clear that familiarity would be favored.
Redmond's personality does not appear to lie in the extremes like Guillen, Girardi, and Rodriguez did. He is not the pushover as Rodriguez was often perceived, nor is he the angry manager that Guillen clearly was. He is not a pure old-school militant guy like Trader Jack or the strict disciplinarian Joe Girardi was. From what we have heard, he is a leader, but a fun guy as well. He may be outspoken about some things, but he is more likely to manage things quietly, a lot like Fredi Gonzalez often did. And you know what? Gonzalez lasted three seasons and change as the team's manager, and Redmond has a three-year contract. If a historical comparison of personalities over the last seven years is to be believed, maybe Redmond can at least live through the end of his deal.