The Miami Marlins are in the midst of front office turmoil with regards to the future of vice president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest. There seems to be an increasing likelihood that Beinfest and his faction in the front office, including general manager Michael Hill, may be let go despite two years left in their contracts. It is expected that Loria would then replace Beinfest with assistant general manager Dan Jennings, who is believed to be a "Loria guy" and favorite of the owner.
Naturally, Marlins fans cannot feel comfortable about the potential move. Beinfest has his share of shortcomings, and the fact that his track record is spotty enough to demand review cannot be questioned. But most Marlins fans feel that, after news of the growing rift between Beinfest and Loria, the installment of Dan Jennings as the front office head will lead to a puppet regime with Loria as the man pulling all the strings.
But as multiple sources already reported, it sounds as though Loria is already doing taking over front office duties. As scary as that sounds, it brings the question as to whether a move to Jennings would even change the current dynamic. Beinfest and his team's decisions are apparently being vetoed consistently, and the conflict between the two sides cannot be helping the decision-making process.
There is at least some positive to the potential of a Dan Jennings promotion. From Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (bolded italics emphasized by me):
Multiple sources said that in making his decisions, Loria often heeds the advice and suggestions of others, everyone from player agents to assistant general manager Dan Jennings, without receiving any input from Beinfest and general manager Michael Hill. Jennings has long been one of Loria’s favorites, and there is rampant speculation he would take over in the front office in the event of a change in leadership.
From these sources, it sounds as though Loria will actually listen to the suggestions of more trusted individuals like Jennings. Presuming that Jennings is a competent player evaluator (and the small amount of information we have publicly says that he is well-respected among his peers), he may be able to influence Loria's more crude decisions if Loria is merely inclined to listen to him. The belief is that Beinfest once likely had the trust of the owner, but as of 2009, Loria has increasingly been taking a larger role.
If Jennings is indeed a "Loria guy," perhaps he will have a better shot at influencing the owner. This will help to decrease the dissension in the front office and perhaps allow for clearer decisions. Provided we can believe in Jennings's work, this may actually decrease Loria's overhanded process. If anything, it likely cannot get any worse in terms of the decision hierarchy.
The problem is whether Jennings can be trusted. After all, he was considered on Loria's side for things such as the Marlins potentially pursuing Prince Fielder in the 2011-2012 offseason. If those are the sort of decisions he would make as the head of the front office, the team may be in more difficult shape.
The ultimate resolution of this conflict would be for the Marlins to clean house in the front office and hire a new crew that does not have the influences of the past regime. That would include Jeffrey Loria, who is likely to still be heavily involved regardless of who takes over. Until then, the Marlins are unlikely to continue moving forward in the world of personnel analysis.