Last week, Miami Marlins manager made some mistakes in managing the ballclub, mistakes that are consistent with the sorts of things he and other managers often do in Major League Baseball. Most notably, as Chris Logel of Marlin Maniac points out, he pitched closer Steve Cishek in only one inning during last week's back-to-back sweeps while the bullpen continued to struggle. Meanwhile, he was questioned in sticking with Carlos Marmol during his meltdown against the Washington Nationals that led to a 10-7 loss.
Throughout his short tenure with the Marlins, Redmond has made some questionable moves to the roster, but moves that are not unlike other managers. For the beginning of this season, he rode Adeiny Hecahvarria's hot streak by displacing Christian Yelich from the leadoff spot in favor of the inferior Hechavarria. Last season, he batted Placido Polanco and Greg Dobbs cleanup regularly in an attempt to figure out the team's best alignment behind Giancarlo Stanton. He opted to platoon Justin Ruggiano and Chris Coghlan early in the season in 2013 even when it was obvious Ruggiano was the better option.
Redmond's moves on the field have been subject to question. But Chris takes it a step further in this article, calling for the Marlins to fire Redmond.
Mike Redmond seems like a genuinely good guy. I think the players like him, and I think they respect him. I think his biggest deficiency revolves around in-game decisions.
I don’t want to be an arm-chair manager and second guess decisions, but it isn’t second guessing if I am screaming at the television "What are you doing" while he makes yet another decision to pinch-hit Greg Dobbs in a crucial situation. These are basic decisions that anyone that follows the Marlins should know are going to turn out badly.
When Carlos Marmol is intentionally walking Anthony Rendon to load the bases and face Jayson Werth late in a ball game with the bases loaded, you are making mistakes as a manager. Everyone watching that game had a good feeling what was coming next.
Chris argues that Redmond's deficiencies in in-game tactics are costing the Marlins too many games, which justifies his outing. If this were to be the case, it would mark the fourth managerial change in three-plus seasons. After the relatively long tenure of Fredi Gonzalez, Miami has turned to Edwin Rodriguez, Jack McKeon (temporarily), Ozzie Guillen, and Redmond, and this move would force another temporary candidate for likely the remainder of the season before yet another replacement is hired.
Chris mentions that continuity would likely be beneficial to the Marlins, but he argues that the in-game decision-making is costing the Marlins more games than the clubhouse presence is producing. Once upon a time, when I was lambasting Gonzalez and Rodriguez for terrible in-game decisions, I would have agreed with Chris. But over time, I have come to realize that we too often discredit the backstage dealings of the managerial role and complain about lineup orders and bullpen management. While the in-game tactics are important, we probably overstate their importance and understate the clubhouse manager aspect of the job because we cannot quantify that part.
We can quantify managerial decisions, and it turns out that most managerial decisions probably are not costing teams much over the course of a season. The difference between the best and worst managers in baseball, when you consider managing bullpens and lineup orders, is probably two to three wins according to research done in The Book. And yes, those are free wins that guys like Joe Maddon are grabbing and guys like Redmond are not. But they are not turning around a franchise overnight, just adding a great bonus to a competitive franchise.
Meanwhile, we have no idea about Redmond's effects in the clubhouse. As Chris alludes to, Redmond is seemingly liked by the players and runs a relatively tight ship. Since his arrival, I have not heard much in the way of clubhouse incidents (Tino Martinez player hitting division notwithstanding). That peace of mind and comfortable atmosphere may be worth something to Miami, and that something may be better than the win or so we may get from getting a better tactician out there.
We also come back to the concept of continuity in a franchise that has not seen it for some time. Giancarlo Stanton has already complained that the Marlins have switched hitting coaches (and thus hitting approaches) five times since his arrival in 2010. That effect can only get worse when you switch clubhouse leaders as often as Miami has. It represents too many voices speaking to young players who could use a little stability in their teaching. The Marlins already have admitted that the managerial and coaching role is more important due to their prospect management approach than in other organizations. Imagine if your teacher kept changing as you developed the skills you needed for your future career. We cannot simply pay lip service to this effect.
Finally, we come to the part about finding a replacement. Miami would have to turn around and find a guy who matches the Maddon-like qualities that all teams should strive to find in their managers. Except there's a reason why there is only one Joe Maddon in Major League Baseball: managers like him are hard to find. Miami would have an interim manager for much of 2014 if they fired Redmond now. Then they would go through a search process during or after the season, spearheaded by an old-school personnel department headed by a Larry Beinfest disciple in president of baseball operations Michael Hill. What are the odds this situation spots the next Maddon?
Miami needs to be patient. If the players are happy and working their hardest under Redmond, that is a good start. Disastrous managerial decisions can and do affect games, but until Miami has given time for Redmond to settle into this teaching role, it seems premature to me to call for the firing of yet another manager.