The Miami Marlins finally pulled the trigger on the long-expected firing of president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest. Owner Jeffrey Loria was increasingly uninterested in listening to Beinfest's advice on player personnel moves, and the constant speculation was putting a strain on Beinfest's personal life. When a team owner has essentially alienated its head of personnel and is making moves almost unilaterally, it is a difficult situation with only one real resolution, and the Marlins decided on the resolution today.
In a sense, this firing is the right thing to do. Beinfest was going to be ignored in favor of parties more favorable to Loria, so he was not going to be doing his job and may be actively causing difficulties in Loria's desired management of the team. It would have denied Beinfest an opportunity to work and earn his keep, even if it was not going to prevent him from being paid. Essentially, he would be putting in day-to-day work without seeing any of the fruits of his labor; doing meaningless work is not something most employees would enjoy. In this respect, it was the right move to fire him at this time.
At the same time, that is the wrong reason to fire him. Beinfest should have never been placed in this situation in the first place, as Loria should not have been unilaterally making decisions or attempting to find parties within the organization who would agree with his desired moves. The front office would have worked best had the franchise had both the owner and the top of the front office working as a cohesive unit, with the owner's interests in mind in addition to what the personnel folks think is best. Teamwork should have been an integral part of the front office process, but because Loria demanded his decisions be performed, it put Beinfest in an unenviable position.
Given what the Miami Marlins were trying to do in terms of personnel, the Beinfest firing ultimately was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the right reason to fire Beinfest has nothing to do with who Jeffrey Loria wants promoted or re-signed to a contract. Larry Beinfest may have worked decently under the conditions he was given, but after more than ten years of being at the top of the front office, his failures have to be accounted for as well. The franchise's failures are unlikely to all be pinned on Loria's meddling, and Beinfest must have had something to do with the years of failed draft picks and questionable moves.
After the Marlins underwent ten years of Beinfest's process with limited results, it was as reasonable a time as any to consider a change in the front office. Each individual mistake or failed move that Beinfest made may not have been all his fault, but his collective resume deserved to be investigated. The Marlins franchise could not idly stand by as they attempted the same process over and over to no avail. If the Fish want to win under the tight monetary grasp of Jeffrey Loria, it likely needed someone who could do better with what they got than what Beinfest did. He had enough time to make something of the franchise and failed to do so, and his process never seemed to change.
But the Marlins are not justifying this move for those legitimate reasons (which we will discuss later today). Instead, Miami is forcing Beinfest and his team out of the franchise for all the wrong reasons, for reasons manufactured by a meddling owner. If Loria were not as heavy-handed in his process, perhaps Beinfest would have been allowed to complete his contract through 2015. And if he were allowed to do so, perhaps he would have made some of the same mistakes he made in the past, mistakes that have gone under the radar but have significantly affected the competitiveness of the team. But at the very least, the pretense for those firings would have been legitimate.
Instead, the pretense for this dismissal is somehting that could harm the team in the future. Who's to say that, with the new regime headed by Jennings, Loria will not do the same things? If the Marlins were firing Beinfest just because of his performance, they could at least hope for better work from Jennings. In this case, even if Jennings is better than Beinfest, there is no guarantee Loria will agree with his work and would not meddle like he has increasingly been doing. In reality, there is a lot less change going on in this Marlins scenario than there would be if Beinfest were fired for being relatively incompetent.
What does that mean for Miami? It could very well mean more of the same for an embattled franchise that desperately needs new leadership across the board, including at owner. The Fish have not gotten it done for over ten years under the same regime, but it needs a new culture in the front office, and it is unlikely Dan Jennings, under the thumb of Jeffrey Loria, can provide that. Firing Beinfest may very well have been the right move, but the real old boss still remains.
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