The Miami Marlins want current manager Dan Jennings to return to the front office, likely for his old general manager role. However, the Marlins are apparently also thinking about "sweeping" changes in their organization as a result of an entirely disappointing 2015 season. Apparently, not only is former manager Mike Redmond to blame for this year's disastrous play, but everyone else will be as well. From Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald:
The Marlins, under orders from owner Jeffrey Loria, are making sweeping changes to the team’s baseball operations, from player development and scouting, all the way up to the front office.
Whether any of those changes involve Jennings, who stepped aside as general manager to assume the manager’s job in May after Mike Redmond was fired, remains to be seen.
Sources said the relationship between Jennings and Loria has become increasingly strained over the course of the team’s disappointing season. Jennings could return to the front office, but not necessarily as general manager.
This comes at almost zero surprise from the Marlins under Loria. The owner of the Fish has been notoriously fickle about his team ever since he took office, but since the move to the new stadium, it seems as though he has been even more quick to make wholesale changes. After the failed 2012 campaign, Loria quit on that "core" and traded nearly everyone away in order to rebuild the roster on the cheap. During the 2014 season, the Marlins "went for it" and traded minor league parts for small additions to the main roster, and continued that process into the 2015 season. Throughout this time, the club has soured on several managers, having fired both Ozzie Guillen and Mike Redmond after providing them multi-year deals within the year in which they were canned. The Marlins will their fifth permanent manager in six years
Tumult is supposedly hitting the front office, and the man who may benefit most is current assistant general manager Mike Berger, who may see a promotion to the general manage role if Jennings is either demoted or explores the GM job in Seattle. Supposedly Berger and a few other Marlins executives looked to increase in power after the vacuum of Jennings leaving office to take the dugout occurred. Berger could take over the GM role permanently if Loria is angry, especially at Jennings.
Loria is frustrated, sources said, and prepared to make personnel changes within the organization. He has not been showing up at games and was noticeably absent for the annual, end-of-season team photo in Miami last week. His front-row seat in the photo, between Jennings and team president David Samson, was empty.
If Jennings doesn’t move back upstairs to the GM’s chair, one possible candidate to take over in that position is assistant general manager Michael Berger, who has assumed a more prominent role in the day-to-day roster decisions. Berger worked with the Montreal Expos when Loria owned the team.
This might all sound like bluster from an erratic owner who demands results yet rarely provides enough resources to attain them. Consider that the Marlins owned among the lowest payrolls in 2015, on par the young babies of the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays. Loria has always found ways to save money on the team, yet still demand competitive play. Next year, it appears, will be no different, with the ownership asking a questionable core to compete despite it being undermanned for the task.
Berger might take an increased role in determining which players will be on the field to take on that task in 2016. On the one hand, it does demote Jennings, who probably helped play a part in building this current undermanned roster. At the same time, Loria would once again be promoting from within a dysfunctional front office that has failed before. I am not familiar with Mike Berger and his thoughts on various front office topics. I do, however, know that he has served for the Marlins underneath Jennings and president of baseball operations Michael Hill for some time, and he is familiar and friendly with Loria, with whom he has worked since the Expos days.
This continues to be the perpetual problem in Miami's front office. Managers have come and gone with not a care in the world, but the front office has been as static as ever for a decade-plus. Just two years ago, there was turmoil in the front office leading to the firing of longtime president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, presumably over how the 2012 and 2013 seasons went. The Marlins, as is their custom in the front office, promoted from within, moving Hill and Jennings up a ranking respectively. The reasoning was that Loria was more trusting of Jennings in particular and had grown weary of Beinfest and his disagreements. The result? The Marlins are still struggling, and a few years later Loria is now disagreeing with Jennings, the very same guy who was supposedly on his side a few years back!
Promoting Berger may in and of itself not be a bad move, but it is most likely a sideways move at best. The Marlins front office would still be headed by Hill, a guy with a strong scouting background who has helped oversee all of the team's moves for 13 years. Do you really think there will be significant changes in the way business is handled with Hill still the boss and with Loria still looking over everyone's shoulders?
If Loria really wants to change the way the team has worked, he needs to replace the entire front office with a new crew, lead by a new voice who can maybe help this team join the analytical age. The way that the Marlins have been doing business for the last 13 years has clearly not been working in recent times, and the Fish need new leadership. Promoting from within is only shifting chairs on the deck of the TItanic; the Marlins may keep sinking while they claim "real" changes. The Marlins do need a change at the top, but like the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners before them, the club needs to realize that they need new people entirely, not just more of the same from within a failing group.