On Thursday, the Miami Marlins were rumored to be firing president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and general manager Michael Hill in favor of assistant general manager Dan Jennings. Then, just as soon as these rumors surfaced, more buzz surrounding a potential firing of manager Ozzie Guillen came up as well. It seemed the Marlins were unsure of who was more responsible for the horrific campaign of the 2012 Marlins.
It seems Joe Frisaro of MLB.com has learned from team sources unofficially that Guillen is more on the hot seat than Beinfest.
As the rumors build, a source said Loria has not come to a conclusion. If he had decided to retain Guillen, then most likely the owner would have said something this weekend. After all, he did with Beinfest and the rest of the front office.
It would seem that the Marlins have settled on Guillen as the principle "head man" at fault for the team's struggles in 2012. But as we mentioned earlier, blaming Guillen is wrong-headed, as no one could have saved this team from the difficulties it faced this season. As Guillen has been saying throughout this time period, everyone involved in the Marlins decision-making process, along with the players themselves, are to blame for the Marlins' season going down the drain.
Guillen said as much in an interview regarding his opinion of his job being on the line.
"We all failed and we’re all responsible about this," he said. "It’s not about that guy, this guy, that guy, this guy. We all failed. We all thought stuff was going to be better for us. It wasn’t. It wasn’t. We might have picked the wrong guys. We might pick the wrong team. We might have spent the money on the wrong people. Just name it."
"At the winter meetings, the expectation was really very, very, very high, with the players, with the manager, with the new park, with the new logos, with new faces and new things. Well, maybe we learn from the experience. It’s not about new and expectation, it’s about how people perform on the field, and we have to figure out to pick the right people, the right players to perform on the field."
While you would expect Guillen to say that and naturally not take full responsibility for the season's failures, he is absolutely right. When a few things go wrong, perhaps it could be the fault of one or two parties. But when as many things go wrong as they did with the Marlins in 2012, you can be certain that more than just Guillen did not do their jobs properly. It is possible that Guillen did not manage the team well. It is possible Beinfest and company did not judge their properly (though they definitely seemed right at the start). And it is very feasible that the Marlins themselves simply did not play up to the expectations of the front office and ownership.
As Guillen says, everyone is at fault, and while he may deserve blame, he certainly should not be the only one to answer for his errors.
It seems the Marlins want to replace Guillen, but they are having trouble finding replacements. Earlier, we mentioned the names of Mike Lowell, Mike Redmond, and Bo Porter as potential candidates. Former Houston Astros catcher Brad Ausmus, who is currently coaching the Israeli team for the World Baseball Classic, was also mentioned. But Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald stated a number of those names may already not be in consideration.
Several names have surfaced as possible replacements for Guillen, including Mike Lowell, Bo Porter and Brad Ausmus. But, while Lowell's name might have been discussed internally, sources tell me that he would not be considered for the job if, in fact, Guillen is fired. That sentiment could always change. Porter, the third base coach for the Nationals and a Marlins managing candidate twice previously, was dismissed by the source as a possibility. Ausmus, who has long-time ties to the Astros, reportedly withdrew his name from consideration for that team's managerial vacancy and has stated previously he does not want to return to baseball.
There is no shortage of coaches that are worthy managerial candidates around baseball, but it seems the names the team initially wanted are either not interested or generally unavailable. But the Marlins are almost certain to get a candidate without experience, if only so that the team will not have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for the managerial spot, since the team will still owe $7.5 million for Guillen's three remaining contract years.
The Manager's Impact
This is the essence of the argument against firing Guillen. The team still owes him money and would have to pay his replacement, no matter how inexperienced, another decent sum. And with all of that, the Marlins cannot be certain that they will get any additional benefit from a new voice, nor can they guarantee that that benefit will be the difference between 2012's failures and 2013's potential success.
The Marlins ownership is perhaps putting too much emphasis on the power of a manager to "change the culture" of a franchise, when the real problem most likely lies in the structure of the team itself. And while Guillen may get the axe for supposedly mishandling that structure, the architects of the structure, the front office, may get off without firing or even reassignment.
Guillen may not have his job by the end of the season, but if he loses his job, he certainly is not the only party who deserves to do so.