Eight months ago, the Miami Marlins signed Mike Redmond to a three-year contract extension. At the tail end of a surprisingly successful 2014 season, Jeffrey Loria and the Marlins front office deemed Redmond as a man who could lead this franchise to success after seeing his work for two seasons.
In less than a quarter of the 2015 season, the Marlins have fired Mike Redmond and thus deemed him someone who was detrimental to the team's success.
Sit back and think about how absurd that is.
Eight months ago, the front office was saying things like this:
"[Owner] Jeffrey [Loria] sat down with Mike and expressed to him that his leadership has really helped get this team in the right direction," President David Samson said. "It was really a unanimous feeling among the entire front office that Mike Redmond is the perfect leader for this team.
Look at those words. "Perfect leader" for this team. The team's overachieving status last season played a huge role in garnering Redmond's extension, and the Marlins at the time felt that Redmond would be their leader for years to come.
Less than a quarter of the way into the following year, what has changed? Has Redmond become an entirely different manager? Has he lost the voice that the Fish had so much confidence in at the end of last season?
"Really, we're just looking for a new voice," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "There will be a press conference at 11 a.m., where we'll introduce the new manager and keep moving forward."
How much of the team's 16-22 start was Redmond's fault? Was it Redmond's fault that Christian Yelich got hurt early in the year? Was it his fault that Henderson Alvarez was hurt? Was it his fault that Steve Cishek did not pitch well? Was Redmond supposed to somehow fix injuries or surprise ineffectiveness with his manager voodoo?
Part of the bad start was probably Redmond's fault, as the blame should be shared throughout. But the Fish are underperforming in wins but playing at near a .500 level overall; a few batted balls break our way and the club is easily 19-19 to begin the season. Just before today's game, the Marlins had a run differential of a .500 ballclub and subsequently struggled against a very hot pitcher. They have about the same run differential as the Baltimore Orioles, who are also underperforming. Why isn't Buck Showalter under heavy fire for a "horrible" start?
The answer is that the Orioles' front office is well aware that it is not far enough into the season to determine that a manager is not right for their team. They know that Showalter has a positive track record from having played a role in a division-winning club just last year. Success from last season does not immediately translate into a fire-able offense the following year.
The Marlins and Jeffrey Loria do not understand this, and that is why they are moving on to their fifth permanent manager hire in six seasons. The Fish are firing Redmond because it is the easy thing to do, to make a scapegoat out of a person who has a limited effect on the team's outcomes. The roster was expected to be an 81-85 win club, and so far it had been playing at about that level and had been unlucky in its distribution of runs. Yet somehow this translates into an underperforming club who is no longer listening to their manager and is not inspired to play under him?
Redmond was not a great manager in a tactical sense, but the tactical aspects of a manager's job are less important than the role as a "leader of men." The Marlins specifically referenced Redmond's leadership in their decision to extend him, yet now his leadership has apparently been deemed unworthy for this roster. Did a true change occur, or did the Marlins just find it easier to make this move rather than really take a look at their own internal workings? Unless the Fish hire a truly progressive coach who will listen to advanced statistics and sabermetric leanings, are we really going to find a guy who is going to make a difference in the team's success? There is only so much you can do with the roster you are handed; you can only play the guys you have. The front office built this roster, and Redmond and his successor can only optimize it a small amount.
Chances are the Fish will move on to another person who will be similar in many ways to Redmond. Maybe he will lean closer to the Ozzie Guillen loudmouth, dirt-kicking style to contrast Redmond's quieter demeanor. However, in the end, the difference will be mild, and the roster will more likely be condemned to work with yet another new staff and have to go through another adjustment period for little return.