The Miami Marlins and owner Jeffrey Loria are considering a shake-up of the team's front office once again, as vice president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and his crew, including general manager Michael Hill, are at risk of losing their jobs following another terrible 2013 season.
There is a significant question to be asked about the latest Beinfest rumors, however: Why now?
Larry Beinfest has been with the organization since Loria purchased it in 2002. He was trusted enough to be given the keys since that time and has never really relinquished power, even when he was given a new position to vacate the general manager spot. As a whole, the results have been mixed. On the one hand, he made a variety of moves in 2002 and 2003 to help solidify the core of the 2003 championship era Marlins. On the other hand, he presided over two of the team's fire sales and has failed a number of drafts until recently.
But last year, his job was threatened as well, after the failure of 2012 warranted some evaluation of the entire organization. At that time, I felt the blame should not fall on just Beinfest or Ozzie Guillen, but the entire organization, top to bottom. Still, there was cause to consider releasing Beinfest after his checkered history in the front office and his lack of interest in keeping up with the times statistically.
But now what's changed? One year later, Beinfest and the Marlins remain in the same position, The Fish are facing one of the worst seasons in team history, but there was an expectation of this level of performance entering the year. Loria mandated a fire sale trade like the one that occurred with the Toronto Blue Jays that stripped the Fish of the talent that they had on the roster. No logical person could have expected Miami to compete or win games this season, and even Loria admitted that this was a rebuilding process at the start of the year in his interview with the media. Beinfest simply did his job, and the results are the expected fruits of that labor.
Indeed, the only difference in evaluating Beinfest this season is his work in that trade and the draft. The remaining moves he made were simply to fill out the roster with players after the team was demolished. The primary moves that he made this season were the fire sale trade and the 2013 draft, with some small moves peppered along the way. How did he do on those?
The fire sale trade has already been discussed a few times this season, and the consensus is that the Marlins got the upper hand in the deal from a pure baseball standpoint before the season, and the results of 2013 have only reinforced the trade's value. The Fish gave up two players who spent a lot of time injured this season (Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson) and one who performed as well as expected (Mark Buehrle) and received a significant prospect haul in return. Only a few of the group of Henderson Alvarez, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Derek Dietrich (acquired for Yunel Escobar), and Anthony DeSclafani have to pan out for the Marlins to get great value on the deal. As bad as the trade was in other aspects, one cannot blame the baseball perspective of the move, and that was firmly in the hands of Beinfest.
The 2013 draft was also a relative success for the Fish. The team made some decent mid-round selections to complement its gem pick, North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran. The downside is that they failed to sign two draft picks among their top four in the first two rounds, but the club will receive replacements and should not fret too much about the loss. The team may well have taken care of its position of most need for the foreseeable future, provided Moran plays as well as expected.
On the basis of those moves alone, the Marlins really do not have any more recourse to fire Beinfest this year than they did last season. Having said that, it does not mean that the Marlins should not consider a front office shakeup. Beinfest has been the head of the front office for more than a decade, and the combination of his work and Loria's meddling have produced mediocre results. His lack of interest in advanced statistics in an age in which it is heavily used in front offices is jarring and concerning. The fact that the 2013 season leaves Beinfest's status unchanged also means that his negatives are unchanged, and the team should still look into a better option.
The thought remains the same: the Marlins should consider firing Beinfest, even with two years left in his contract. But his track record has not changed since last year, so the decision may remain the same.