The Miami Marlins are, once again, turning to the past to fix their front office future.
The Fish are said to have made official the hiring of Marc DelPiano to the team to oversee their minor league operations. DelPiano was serving as a special assistant to the general manager with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he is going to return home to the Marlins after spending several years away from the organization. DelPiano is a former Marlins hand, as he served as the team's director of player development in 2003 when the team's front office won Organization of the Year.
The Marlins are shuffling around a front office that is being re-evaluated after a failure in the 2015 campaign. Just like the last time the team failed to compete when expected, back in 2012, there is an expectation that members of the front office will pay the price. Prominent hires from a few years ago, Marty Scott and Craig Weissman, have already been reassigned from prominent front office roles for which they were recently hired. Furthermore, the team still has not made an official decision on the status of manager Dan Jennings, who was previously serving as general manager and second-in-command behind president of baseball operations Michael Hill.
The above does not sound surprising in the least. Much like last time, owner Jeffrey Loria threatened change at the front office level. However, instead of turning to new voices for an organization that has been struggling for years with moves, Loria is turning to familiar faces as he always has in the past. DelPiano likely played some sort of role while he was serving for the Marlins in 2002 to 2006. He probably helped the Marlins' minor league organization that year in some fashion. But he is also an old name, and a name that may have had some issues with the Marlins. According to this old Sun-Sentinel article about (surprise!) a mutiny in the front office of the Marlins after the 2004 season, there were issues on various sides.
DelPiano was reassigned from a top role managing the farm to a lesser role more than ten years ago, likely at the behest of Loria. Now, many years later, he is being brought back to serve a similar prominent minor league role despite all the commentary that was made back then, particularly by team president David Samson. The irony is rather interesting.
The Marlins are falling back to their old roots. They are depending on what once worked for them before without looking into the future about what should work going forward. DelPiano is probably an excellent scout and smart man; you do not serve as special assistant to Neal Huntington in Pittsburgh or Theo Epstein with the Boston Red Sox without knowing a good deal about the game. But if the Marlins are serious about trying to figure out their future, they are going to need other voices from other aspects of the game, including analytical aspects, in order to build a balanced front office. Also, they may want to stop the same sort of trends and problems with infighting that they had back in 2004 now.