Dan Jennings, the man who only yesterday was serving as the Marlins' general manager, will now be its next regular manager. The Marlins decided to move Jennings to the dugout, replacing him in the front office with assistant GM Mike Burger. The Fish also moved Mike Goff into the dugout to serve as the team's bench coach, with the rest of the current staff remaining intact.
It is clearly evident from the start that this is just a temporizing measure until the Marlins, who were pressed for time thanks to a rash, emotional decision by owner Jeffrey Loria, find their permanent choice for the next manager. Jennings is a perfect choice for Loria and the Fish, given that he is a longstanding, loyal member of the nearly-impervious front office staff. Since the ownership took over in 2002, Loria has had Larry Beinfest, Michael Hill, and Dan Jennings involved in various capacities throughout the majority of this time period. Jennings was notably on Loria's side in the supposed front office split between Beinfest and Hill's camp and Loria's group. He was widely expected to be the next head of the team's front office once the firing of Beinfest was eventually complete, though Hill became the one who took over player personnel.
More importantly, the Marlins know that moving Jennings to the dugout prevents the situation of paying yet another organization member to manage the team. The club is stuck with a $2.5 million tab for Ozzie Guillen this season and the remnants of a three-year contract extension for Redmond. As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports points out, the Marlins are making plenty of money from revenue sharing and saving cash elsewhere, but ownership groups probably do not care for so much of the teams's dead money, especially on managers. Moving Jennings over makes the appearance of a non-temporary move, something a coach with the interim label would not have, while at the same time allowing the team to not have to make a hire until after Guillen's deal is off the books.
Let's be honest: barring some surprise 2003 redux, Dan Jennings will not remain the Marlins' manager beyond this season.
The Marlins made this decision so quickly that they needed someone who was not going to be a lame duck, whom the players may respect and know, but who would also accept a return away from the bench without a lot of question. Jennings has no experience as a manager beyond high school. He broke into baseball as a scout and climbed the ranks as a player personnel guy. There is no question he knows the sport, but it is likely he would prefer the more stable front office position than the pit of second guessing that is the manager's dugout. More importantly, since he is under a long-term extension as an executive, the Marlins could very easily return him to the front office without necessarily questioning his ability as a manager.
Meanwhile, the Fish buy time without spending extra money. They can spend the rest of the season trying to figure out their replacement plan for next year, when the club eventually rolls out an entirely new cast of coaches behind yet another manager. This will provide yet another leadership group to a roster that has seen much more turnover at the managerial level than the average team. Whether the team responds positively remains to be seen, but at least with the move to Jennings, the Marlins are turning to a name they trust while they find another person they want.