The Miami Marlins are amid one of the worst seasons in team history, and the turmoil is not only on the field. There is major conflict in the front office as well, as Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is contemplating firing vice president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and replacing him at the top of the player management operation, presumably with assistant GM Dan Jennings.
Loria may want to replace Beinfest, but Beinfest himself may want out of the job, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports.
Beinfest is miserable, major league sources say. You would be miserable, too, if your owner over the past four years had gone from merely meddlesome to completely hands-on, even vetoing minor league call-ups for reasons unrelated to performance.
Beinfest, frustrated that his job security is again a matter of public discussion, confronted Loria last week and asked him to decide upon his status one way or the other, sources say.
The rift between Beinfest's and Loria's factions in the front office appears to be growing, but more importantly, it seems as though Loria is more heavily involved than ever before. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald elaborates on just how involved the owner has been in day-to-day operations.
Sources said Loria is now making most — if not all — of the baseball decisions, which is fueling speculation that president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and team president David Samson could be ousted after the season.
"He has marginalized the front office," said a major-league source, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. "The front office isn’t making decisions. Loria makes them all."
This is a poor sign for a franchise which is in on-field misery after the Marlins completed their third fire sale in team history. Beinfest, who has been with the organization since 2002, may be well-respected, but his track record in Miami has been spotty, particularly in the draft. But his knowledge of the business has to dwarf that of Loria's, yet reports are indicating that it is Loria who is making the decisions.
Marlins fans are well aware of the meddlesome nature of Loria, but it seems now that this meddling has gotten to extreme lengths. With Loria now seemingly involved in more detailed moves such as minor league promotions and demotions, the franchise is increasingly in his grasp. The difficulty arises with the two sides of the organization at odds and not in sync, making decision-making a more confusing and less efficient process. With two sides butting heads, the only group that suffers are the players and the on-field product.
The Marlins cannot afford to have that kind of dissension in the organization, and a move will have to be made. Beinfest has already approached Loria about his upcoming status, but it seems Loria is declining to comment as part of team policy. Keep in mind that, amid rumors of Beinfest's impending firing last year, Loria denied the rumors to the front office. There was no such mention this season, as the owner is apparently choosing to stay quiet instead. This cannot be a positive sign for Beinfest and general manager Michael Hill.
At the same time, a firing seems like it would inevitably lead to the promotion of Dan Jennings, who seems to be the favored choice for Loria. As a "Loria guy," Jennings would be fairly protected, but there is a question as to whether he would stand against Loria in the interests of the team from a player personnel standpoint if he were the handpicked successor. Would hiring Jennings lead to something of a puppet regime, thus making it even easier for Loria to affect day-to-day decisions? These are important questions facing the franchise over the coming months.
Stay tuned to Fish Stripes for all the latest details of the Larry Beinfest front office situation.