Earlier today, we discussed the Miami Marlins' inability to acquire players as a result of their distrust of owner Jeffrey Loria. But as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald mentioned in the same article, the bigger problem may lie in Loria's well-known meddlesome nature.
Loria’s meddling in personnel decisions is widely known, but it’s even worse than perceived. Besides suggesting or dictating free agent signings and players to trade, Loria has instructed his front office to demote several players.
"Everyone knows he does it," the player said of Loria demoting players. "It makes it hard to play. Every time you come into the clubhouse after a bad outing, you’re thinking, ‘Oh, [bleep]! Is Loria going to send me down because he’s [angry] tonight, just because Loria’s in an [expletive] mood?’
"So all these guys, with the exception of Giancarlo [Stanton], walk around on eggshells."
This also comes as no surprise to Marlins fans, but we are finally hearing something from the perspective of the Marlins players. Previously, we just assumed Loria was heavy-handed in his team involvement, with a few public spats as proof. But if these player accounts are to be believed, then Loria's meddling is indeed challenging not only the patience of the fans, but the performance and well-being of the players as well.
There is absolutely no doubt that Loria's presence, at least to the certain players that mentioned these sorts of opinions, negatively affected their play, though it cannot be said by just how much. Much like having a bad manager can set aside a team a bit, having a meddlesome owner threatening potential demotion at any gaffe can also get into a player's mind. The difference is that the manager is paid specifically to manage player egos and such. The owner's job is not involved with this at all. If Loria wanted to do such a thing, why does he not just manage the team on his own and forgo the manager entirely?
But it sounds as though he has been getting on the players in this fashion as well.
"This guy sits down with us in Boston last season and tries to give us an [expletive] speech, to inspire us," the player said. "You listen to it and then everybody kind of looked at each other like, ‘What the [bleep] is that? Is this guy serious?’ It was unnecessary."
It sounds as though at least this player did not appreciate Loria taking the manager's role of "leader of men." This player complained just enough to sound disgruntled in general as well as angry at Loria, but his point stands: not everyone is going to appreciate Loria's constant presence in the clubhouse.
My issue, personally, is not with Loria's meddling with the players, though that is certain to have some effect. My issue is his work in meddling with the front office, and there are rival organizations that feel the same way.
Why is the owner even involved to this extent with personnel? "If Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill were left alone and given autonomy, they would be much better off," one agent said --- though Beinfest took bad advice from his scouting staff on a bunch of former No. 1 draft picks.
Another agent said he’s left with the impression that everything beyond minor moves must be run by Loria – different from how the Heat, Dolphins and Panthers do business.
This is what troubles me the most about the Marlins. At this point, many fans feel that there is a need for a change in the organization's way of handling business. From Larry Beinfest on down, the Marlins have proven to be among the more backward organizations in terms of embracing advanced statistics and other weapons of more contemporary general managers. But even with their likely limitations, Beinfest, Michael Hill, and others in the front office are likely experienced enough to do a decent job for a major league team. But Loria's presence is very likely to disrupt any long-term plans the front office can set, as Loria seems to run the team at his own whims.
There is an agreed-upon need for organizational change to keep up with the current times. The current regime is not allowed to change or even grow in its existing roles, in part of because of Loria's seeming loyalty to some members of the staff. But his meddling is also likely preventing the front office from accomplishing its goals properly. As a result, we have a disjointed, backwards front office running things halfheartedly, as the owner has the final and all-important say on personnel decisions for which he is paying the front office to make.
Loria's best bet moving forward is to leave the team in the hands of the professionals whom he pays. But it does not seem as though he can stop meddling with the Marlins' day-to-day affairs, and it is beginning to sound like it is bothering not just the office but the players themselves.