Derek Jeter apparently missed the memo on how fed up Marlins fans are with fire sales

 

With Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the same lineup, every day will be Home Run Derby for the New York Yankees.

It’s an excess of riches for Derek Jeter’s old team. And his new one? An excess of prospects, building toward some grand plan that Jeter, part-owner and top baseball executive of the Miami Marlins, has thus far failed to articulate.

New Yankee Giancarlo Stanton answers questions during a press conference at the Major League Baseball winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.)

The optics are not good here, trading away the franchise’s home-grown NL Most Valuable Player. Some of the worst ever, actually.

Even Jeffrey Loria, the owner everyone wanted to ride out of town on a rail, got off to a better start than this when he bought the Marlins from John Henry in 2002.

Forget for a moment that Loria basically had the team handed to him in an orchestrated deal that sold his floundering Montreal Expos to Major League Baseball first. Forget it because fans care far less about the financial underpinnings of any franchise than they do about the players they buy tickets to see.

In that respect Loria and his general manager, Larry Beinfest, got busy in a hurry on a set of transactions that were far more popular and beneficial to the team’s roster than anything Jeter has done or will do over the next few years.

Tim Raines, a good clubhouse guy and a future Hall of Famer, instantly came aboard as a low-cost free agent at the end of his career. Everybody loved “Rock,” whether he played a lot or not, so no harm there.

Next came a spring-training trade that sent Antonio Alfonseca, a flighty and overweight closer, to the Cubs in a package that got the Marlins an interesting young pitching prospect named Dontrelle Willis. The D-Train was on the verge of a breakout, from minor leaguer in 2002 to NL Rookie of the Year in 2003, so that worked, too. It was all part of a quiet rollout in which the Marlins improved from 76 wins to 79, with Loria making signs that he meant to compete for something.

In Loria’s second season he shifted into a different gear altogether, trading away Charles Johnson and Preston Wilson in a deal that brought Juan Pierre, a great leadoff hitter, to the Marlins.

Next came the free-agent signing of catcher Ivan Rodriguez for $10 million, which was more than one-fifth of the team payroll at the time. Pudge, a future Hall of Famer, was exactly what the Marlins needed to get the most out of a staff of kid pitchers who themselves would go on to be stars.

In May Loria showed his impetuous side, firing manager Jeff Torborg and replacing him with the ancient Jack McKeon. Nobody knew quite what to make of that, and the sale of Kevin Millar to the Red Sox was a puzzler, too, but then came the moves that really proved Loria wanted to win the World Series as soon as possible.

In July the Marlins got a top closer, Ugueth Urbina, in a trade, and in August Jeff Conine, a Marlins favorite who was lost in an earlier Wayne Huizenga fire sale, returned to the team by trade as well. The pieces were then in place for a World Series upset of the Yankees, with a mix of veterans and young stars developed in what was then recognized as a strong farm system.

No matter what anybody thinks of Loria now, at least he came into this thing with the idea that the Marlins should strive to be the best and South Florida fans should know that.

So far, the only things this market knows about Jeter are bad. He won’t care about winning for a while, it’s clear. He believes there is time for a rebuild because he is new to this project. Poor guy. He doesn’t realize that new projects are old news around here. Finished projects are what we crave.

I’m not telling you to love Jeffrey Loria. It seems, though, that he at least cared about first impressions as the owner of the Marlins.

Jeter figures he has already made his first impression, the only one he’ll ever need to make, by being one of the greatest players in Yankees history. That was a different time in his life, though, and this job of empire-building, the one that even George Steinbrenner struggled to master, does not come so naturally to him.

[A dream night for Jakeem, but not without familiar frustrations]

[It’s OK to start wondering if Tiger will return to Honda Classic]

[Before Richt was available, UM interviewed Schiano and Mullen]

Is there anything with this revocable waivers thing to worry about with Giancarlo Stanton?

 

I’m not enough of a seamhead to know everything there is to know about revocable waivers but if the Miami Marlins just ran Giancarlo Stanton through that process over the weekend and he went unclaimed, as reported by Yahoo Sports, it’s time to dig in.

As explained by the MLB Daily Dish website, “In August, tons of players throughout the league are placed on revocable trade waivers, in many cases for clubs to gauge value of their players and in some rare cases, because clubs are actually interested in making waiver-wire deals.”

MIAMI – Giancarlo Stanton breaks the Miami Marlins’ season home run record as he hits his 43rd of the season against the San Francisco Giants on Monday night. (Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald/TNS)

My interpretation: Generally speaking it’s no big deal for a player to be placed on revocable waivers in August. Happens all the time. This, however, makes Stanton eligible to be traded to any team now, and since the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter group just signed an agreement to purchase the team from Jeffrey Loria, you have to assume that Jeter is the one who wants to discover all the possibilities.

Stanton is owed $295 million between 2018 and 2027. Surely Jeter’s group and Loria talked about that during negotiations to buy the team at the reported price of $1.2 billion. The franchise and its new owners can either build around Stanton or start a new long-range plan with greater freedom to spread money in other directions.

Stanton’s on a career-best roll, too, with an all-time high trade value. Going into Tuesday night’s game against the Giants, he had homered in five consecutive games, setting a franchise season record of 43 in the process. In August alone Stanton has 10 homers, more than three teams (the Phillies, Pirates and Rays) have managed to pile up. He also went into Tuesday’s action with 22 homers in the space of 34 games, a pace that hasn’t been seen since Shawn Green of the Dodgers matched it in 2002.

Now, about the “revocable” part of the waivers process, which Stanton reportedly cleared on Sunday.

Other teams have 48 hours to make a claim on a player who has been placed on revocable waivers. The teams at the bottom of the standings get first priority if there are multiple claims.

At this point, a trade can be worked out, or the original team may pull the player back off waivers and everything returns to normal.

Or, as explained by MLB Daily Dish, “the team can simply award the player to the priority claiming team, with the claiming team taking on the rest of the player’s contract and immediately acquiring him.”

My interpretation: If some other team was willing to take Stanton’s contract or any significant chunk of it off the Marlins’ books, it would have been tempting for Jeter to approve that. Sounds like a horrible PR move for the new group, of course, in terms of dumping the Marlins’ best player in the midst of an incredible home-run barrage, but Loria still owns the team and fans are already inclined to blame him for everything.

Either way, since Stanton was not claimed, the new ownership group has a better idea of which teams are interested enough, and wealthy enough, to make a call and seriously discuss the situation when it comes to Miami’s young superstar.

[Pahokee’s Anquan Boldin will have a strong influence on Buffalo Bills]

[Two places in America where there is nothing but love for Jay Cutler]

[Any legendary story you hear about Vince Wilfork is probably true]

The Detroit Tigers just went on a fact-finding mission with second baseman Ian Kinsler, who was placed on revocable waivers and was claimed by another unknown team. Since no deal was worked out within the 48-hour waiver period, Kinsler stays with the Tigers. Maybe he gets traded in the offseason or next summer or maybe nothing ever happens with Kinsler but Detroit has more information about his market value at this point and that is important to them.

With Stanton, who has a no-trade clause, it remains possible that he could be traded away by the end of August if there is somewhere he agrees to go and some team rich enough to assume his contract. After that it makes no sense because players have to be with a contending team by Sept. 1 in order to make the postseason roster.

Bottom line, I don’t think Stanton is going anywhere right now, but it’s no surprise that Loria’s guys are looking around to see what is possible, and that Jeter is eager to see what they find out.

The Marlins need to build everything over, from the farm system up. If Jeter is soon to be in charge of both the business and the baseball side of this operation, Stanton is the key to every blueprint that must be reviewed and approved over the next decade.

 

 

 

 

Jeffrey Loria says ‘There is no deal’ for Marlins and tells media to stop talking as if there is one

There’s a lot of talk around town about the potential sale of the Miami Marlins to one of three investment groups but you won’t hear any of it from Jeffrey Loria.

MIAMI, FL – JULY 27: Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and former Marlin Jeff Conine looks on for the unveiling of the 2017 All-Star Game logo before the game between the Miami Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on July 27, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

The Marlins owner stepped into the National League clubhouse during Tuesday afternoon’s media availabilty and quickly was surrounded by reporters from South Florida and elsewhere. If he meant to visit with players or stroll quietly through the room to appreciate the All-Star Game environment at Marlins Park, that opportunity didn’t last long.

Asked when he thinks a deal will get done, Loria responded “That’s your words, not mine.” After a brief pause, he said “No comment.”

The question came again, however, as more reporters walked up and joined the conversation.

“There’s no deal,” Loria said emphatically. “Stop talking deal.”

Reminded that Marlins President David Samson has confirmed that the team will be sold, Loria said “At some point, maybe. Everybody sells something, maybe. Everybody gets married or unmarried, maybe.”

After a few minutes he turned and left, saying he was going back to his office. There was a moment, however, where Loria was able to talk about the late Jose Fernandez and how the charismatic pitcher surely would have been an All-Star here at his home ballpark. Fernandez was killed in late September in a boat crash off Miami Beach.

“There’s always been great interest in baseball in Miami,” Loria said. “What happened with Jose last year was rather unfortunate. We raised the payroll in anticipation of a really spectacular year. You can’t control what happens in people’s lives.”

Whether Loria will be involved in any pregame festivities on the field has not been announced. There are two of his players in the National League’s starting lineup – Marcell Ozuna in right field and Giancarlo Stanton as the designated hitter.

[Photos: MLB All-Star Game festivities in Miami]

[Miami fans enjoy All-Star Game despite long lines, traffic … and Jeffrey Loria]

[Marlins hope MLB All-Star events take focus away from team’s problems]

A Marlins sale prior to All-Star Game is just too neat and tidy to feel true any more

The All-Star Game at Marlins Park is sneaking up fast now, with barely more than five weeks to go before the annual exhibition between National League and American League stars, plus the Home Run Derby and all the rest, brings baseball’s spotlight to Miami.

How sweet it would be to have a new ownership announcement for Jeffrey Loria’s franchise by then but I’m losing hope with each new headline on the topic.

 

2016 Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaking at a rally in Summerville, S.C. Former Florida Gov. Bush is no longer interested in buying the Miami Marlins and has ended his pursuit of the team, a person close to the negotiations said Tuesday, May 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Jeb Bush has dropped his name from the potential ownership group featuring Derek Jeter. That supposedly would breathe new life into the bid led by Tagg Romney, the son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, but his group reportedly is growing frustrated with the process and might step away.

Already a group led by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has come and gone as a potential Marlins buyer. Politics ultimately got in the way. Hey, it’s 2017. What else would get in the way?

So it would be a real surprise now to get this clog unstuck in time for the July 9 All-Star Legends & Celebrities Softball game, or the July 10 Home Run Derby or the July 11 All-Star game.

Major League Baseball has too much to study with the financials of the bidding groups, and Loria won’t rush through negotiations. There is a lot at stake for him here and, characteristically, he will want it all to go his way.

Makes you wonder what all was discussed before Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, then just three weeks into the job, announced that the Marlins would be All-Star hosts.

The bones of that deal surely were knitted together under former commissioner Bud Selig, who had a system of rewarding franchises with new stadiums to show off. Manfred surely is interested in a fresh start in Miami, for the good of baseball, for the good of the community’s trust in the game. If Loria gave any hints that he might be looking to sell soon, perhaps even making the 2017 All-Star game his final big moment as owner, that wouldn’t have hurt the bid and probably would have helped.

“It was time for baseball to recognized and pay back South Florida for what they did in building this stadium,” Manfred said on Feb. 13, 2016, the day MLB officially awarded the All-Star Game to Miami.

Fair enough, but when MLB took the 2000 All-Star Game away from Miami and awarded it to Atlanta instead, it was a punishment for the World Series fire sale of former Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga and the ongoing uncertainty about the franchise’s future. South Florida fans were farther down the list of priorities.

Here is what Loria said on the day of the All-Star announcement more than two years ago. He patted himself on the back. He sold once more the idea that nobody understands his motivations or appreciates the sacrifices he makes.

“It’s baseball’s recognition that you’re doing good things,” Loria said. “They awarded it to us. We didn’t go and buy it.

“You don’t get to the top unless you have ups and downs. You have to take the criticism and take the good with the bad. I’m still here, and I’m still here, and I’m still here because I believed in what we were doing along the way. We changed a lot of things. I took a lot of criticism for what I called pushing the reset button, but if I didn’t push that damn reset button, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Well, I’m still here believing that Loria will pass on his team to another owner at a huge profit when he is good and ready. The change won’t be as easy as everyone wants it to be, and it won’t be swift.

[Predicting Warriors in six games, and not even LeBron can stop it]

[Who but a NASCAR driver would push an SUV up to 230 mph?]

[LeBron’s NBA greatness was predicted on the day he left high school]

Meanwhile, let the criticism come. Loria has something that other people want. It’s a heady feeling, and one that will only grow stronger in the weeks growing up to the All-Star Game.

It’s sneaking up fast now, and the notion of some new owner taking the bows during All-Star weekend just doesn’t seem to be in the cards any more.

 

 

Franklin to Jefferson to Loria? Around the horn with French ambassadors

 

 

There’s been a lot of noise around South Florida about the possibility that Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria will be nominated as U.S. Ambassador to France.

Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria puts on a new hat as he jokes with pitchers and catchers during the first day of spring training at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter on February 14, 2017. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria puts on a new hat as he jokes with pitchers and catchers during the first day of spring training at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter on February 14, 2017. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Next to nothing has been said, however, about our previous ambassadors and envoys in Paris. Probably you’ve heard of some of these guys.

Included below are the years each man headed our diplomatic office in France and a bit about their additional roles in public service.

Benjamin Franklin (1778-1785) One of our Founding Fathers

Thomas Jefferson (1785-1789) U.S. President

Gouverneur Morris (1792-94) Drafted the preamble to U.S. Constitution

James Monroe (1794-96) U.S. President

Charles Pinckney (1796-1797) Revolutionary War general

Robert Livingston (1801-04) Was on committee that drafted Declaration of Independence

William King (1844-46) U.S. Vice President

James Gavin (1961-62) Made four combat jumps while serving as U.S. general during WWII

Sargent Shriver (1968-70) Founded the Peace Corps

 

Now it must be noted that Loria is an international art dealer and clearly knows his way around Europe, but whenever I try to type his name onto the bottom of that list, it sure feels like something is getting lost in the translation, as well as the qualifications. This is how it works, though.

Sweet jobs like this are generally reserved for major donors and major friends on the winning side. Every election. Every century. Everywhere around the world.

[Durant injury demonstrates how fortunate Miami was during Big 3 era]

[Who’s the best all-around player at PB County’s four spring training camps?]

[Lane Kiffin says FAU’s new QB is moving past his old troubles]

 

 

Firing upbeat Tommy Hutton is ultimate proof that Marlins just can’t let anybody be happy

Just a quick post on my day off to agree with all those who find the Miami Marlins’ decision to kick TV analyst Tommy Hutton to the curb altogether shocking and stupid and tone deaf at a level that exceeds the franchise’s long-established low standards.

Marlins TV announcer Tommy Hutton, who has spent 50 years in Baseball, sits in Roger Dean Stadium Friday, March 14, 2014. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Former Marlins TV announcer Tommy Hutton, who has spent 50 years in Baseball, sits in Roger Dean Stadium Friday, March 14, 2014. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Tommy, a Palm Beach Gardens pal, was the  one consistently forever happy note ever to come out of this organization.

No need to list all the craters that Marlins management has dug during the 19 years that Hutton worked their games, but he climbed out of every one as quickly as possible and with as much optimism as imaginable. Tommy is a baseball lifer. Baseball is a slow game played  out over a long season. He gets that, he loves that, and always figures that something better is coming if you’ll only wait for it.

That attitude is what Jeffrey Loria wants fans to adopt, what he expects from you one clunky and confused season after another, and now he has shown what happens to a bright and talented Marlins ambassador who stays loyal to this vision. (Dan Jennings is another story, but not much different).

So I’m hoping Tommy gets another gig with a big-league club in 2016, though the timing here stinks.

His insight and humor and enthusiasm will be missed in South Florida, and maybe that’s part of what drives this decision. Can’t have fans enjoying Marlins games too much at home. Can’t have them hearing a little straight talk now and then. Better force them, against their preferences, to come out to the ballpark and fill all those empty seats and empty parking garage spaces.

If you want to learn more about Tommy, a member of the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame, here is a link to a long profile I wrote on him last spring training.

[After 50 years in baseball, Tommy Hutton knows what he is talking about]

What if Jeffrey Loria owned the Miami Dolphins?

You know what would happen if Jeffrey Loria owned the Miami Dolphins, right?

Joe Philbin would have been toast a long time ago, probably after losing back-to-back games to the Bills and Jets to miss the playoffs in 2013.

092811 (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post) MIAMI GARDENS, FL Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria listens to New Florida Marlins manger Ozzie Guillen.
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria listens to Ozzie Guillen at the Sept. 28, 2011 introduction of the former Miami manager. (Allen Eyestone/the Palm Beach Post)

That would have started a wild hunt for an emotional leader with long, long experience turning teams around. Think Jack McKeon with the Marlins. And for the Dolphins, hey, why not Dick Vermeil? Yeah, that’s it. He’s only 78.

Of course, if the results didn’t satisfy Loria, and nothing ever does for long, it would be time to find a brash and quotable celebrity who runs the team his way and doesn’t care what anybody else thinks and gets fans excited about all the crazy things that might happen.

Ozzie Guillen filled that role for the Marlins. As for the Dolphins, are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Sure, Loria would have to go with Mike Leach, the 23rd-century playcaller with the 17th-century pirate obsession. He’s the fourth-highest paid coach in the Pac-12 and has a 7-20 conference record at Washington State so it’s likely that he’s gettable.

After that blows up, Loria would tear down the whole thing. Start over with a discount roster. Hire a Mike Redmond type to work with the young kids and establish some stability.

I’m thinking Chad Pennington here. A real pro, one who loves the game and would be willing to patiently work with anyone who feels the same way. Heck, Chad has only been out of the game since 2012, and it took four shoulder surgeries to make him retire.

[Great stinkbombs in the history of home openers by Miami’s pro franchises]

[Hey, somebody’s got to be No. 25, so Gators will take it, gladly]

[The comeback of Chris Bosh is as much mental as physical]

Problem is, none of these approaches comes with much of a guarantee. If there is success, it will take a while to build it. That’s a problem for Loria, who fired Redmond without a solid backup plan in place and quickly turned to general manager Dan Jennings to run the Marlins.

The results have been fairly predictable. Jennings is scraping to the end of the season with hopes of keeping his winning percentage above .400. Even if he does, he’ll have a lower success rate than Redmond did overall. Lower, in fact, than any Marlins manager ever has.

All the same, you see where this is going.

If Loria were the owner of the Dolphins, he would fire Philbin right now, three games in, and turn to his front office for a new leader already on the payroll.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your new head coach of the Miami Dolphins, general manager Dennis Hickey.

Played safety at Tulsa so he knows the game. Scouted for years and ran the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ personnel department so he knows the players. Moved aside when Stephen Ross brought Mike Tannenbaum aboard in January as the Dolphins’ Executive Vice President of Football Operations, so he knows how to keep his head down and take orders.

Of course, there’s a chance that might not work out, either, which means that the Dolphins would be diving right back into the pool of coaching candidates.

While you’re screaming for Stephen Ross to make a change right this second, from Philbin to anybody with a whistle and a pulse, consider this.

Isn’t one pro franchise in constant chaos enough for this market?

Anybody got a number for Jack McKeon?

The lift that Jose Fernandez gave to the Miami Marlins Thursday, with six strikeouts on the mound and a long home run off his bat, will keep people smiling all weekend.

What will keep me smiling forever, though, is the image of Jack McKeon returning to manage the team in 2011 at the age of 80.

jackmacJust like this year, the Marlins weren’t going anywhere when they switched managers midstream.

They were riding fifth in the NL East when Edwin Rodriguez got the boot and team owner Jeffrey Loria made one of his classic grandstand plays. This time, rather than bringing his general manager down from the office to manage the team he turned to McKeon, the magic man from the 2003 World Series championship team.

The 2011 season continued as expected, leading to a 72-90 finish and another extreme makeover the following year with Ozzie Guillen.

Amazing to think, however, that Jack did better in his half season of managing in 2011 than anything the Marlins have rolled out there this year.

Here are the numbers, and hat’s off, as always, to Jack.

 

Manager                       Season                 Record                 Pct.

______________________________________________

Jack McKeon                   2011                        40-50                    .444

Mike Redmond                2015                       16-22                     .421

Dan Jennings                   2015                        17-24                     .417

 

 

Well, that’s all from me for a week or so. Taking a little family time while they still remember who I am. Hope you all get the chance to do the same before this fast-forward summer slips away, and hope you’ll check back at Dave’s Digital Domain starting July 14.

Yet another reason why the GM shouldn’t play the manager’s role

July is upon us, which means we’re due for another Miami Marlins makeover.

Didn’t think I’d be typing that again this summer. The team looked pretty good in spring training, with Giancarlo Stanton back healthy and ready to rip, plus solid additions like Dee Gordon, who’s only leading the majors in batting, not to mention the larger promise of Jose Fernandez sailing through his Tommy John rehab and on line for a solid second half of the season.

The Miami Marlins' Dee Gordon (9) is congratulated by manager Dan Jennings after scoring in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Marlins Park in Miami on Friday, June 26, 2015. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald/TNS)
The Miami Marlins’ Dee Gordon is congratulated by manager Dan Jennings after scoring in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 26, 2015. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald/TNS)

All the same, the losses started piling up so quickly and so high that manager Mike Redmond got fired, offseason contract extension or not, and before you knew it Stanton being on something like a 60-homer pace was of little consequence. The Marlins, sitting at 31-46, are worse than every team but Philadelphia and Milwaukee and the bottom’s still not in sight.

That’s because Stanton broke his wrist and he’s out for six weeks or so. Who’s going to set that home-run sculpture into a fit of synchronized chaos now? It’s down to just the regular Marlins chaos now, unplanned and unstoppable.

Anyway, the trading deadline is July 31 and Jeffrey Loria doesn’t like paying guys past June if they’re not going to make the playoffs. This would seem the natural time to get together with team president Michael Hill and the general manager to determine which guys will bring the most in trade.

Wait a minute. Dan Jennings isn’t the GM anymore. He’s the Marlins’ manager, and tooling along at 15-24 since replacing Redmond on May 18.

[Tom Brady is using all his allotted timeouts to fight suspension]

[Dechiphering ‘Nerdgate,’ the Cardinals’ childish computer game]

[Once you quiet Johnny Football, is there anything left to cheer?]

If you’re wondering why players wouldn’t be all that excited about somebody from the front office writing out the lineups and determining how much each guy plays, it’s because of conflicts of interest just like this one.

It’s not a matter of trying to win the division anymore. It’s shuffling through contracts and digging through the minor-league organizational charts of other teams to find somebody that might make you a little better next year, or the year after that.

The manager shouldn’t be buried hip-deep in that process, but Jennings clearly isn’t the final answer there and never was. He’s holding a space until Loria figures out what he wants to do next, and then it’s back to the front office for DJ, a super scout and a super guy but not the superglue you need to hold together a clubhouse that’s been torn up and put back together so many times before.

Even the Phillies understand this side of the equation. Ryne Sandberg resigned as their manager last week, muttering something profound about “Wins and losses was a big thing that took a toll on me,” and the team replaced him Monday with the interim solution of third-base coach Pete Mackanin.

Mackanin is 63. He’s been wearing a baseball uniform his entire life. Probably doesn’t know how to tie a necktie. He’ll take the toll now, as well as anyone could, knowing it’s the role he was born for and the only one he’s suited to play.

Jennings, on the other hand, is miscast. It’s not his fault, but it is his curse. The manager is supposed to have his players’ backs in feuds with umpires and reporters and team presidents and even owners, or at least that’s how they see it.

Instead, as another potential Marlins makeover looms, Miami’s manager is a visitor from the front office, beholden to Loria for the job that matters most, the one he wants to return to, which is managing the roster instead of the team.

Hiring Jennings is the closest possible thing to Loria managing the Marlins himself

Dan Jennings is a great guy, so personable, so knowledgable, that I just couldn’t make myself come right out and say that any plan featuring him was poorly conceived. Now, though, a few days have passed since the Miami Marlins turned Jennings the GM into Jennings the on-field manager so there’s no use putting this off any longer.

In my opinion, Jeffrey Loria’s faith in managers is so shaken, and the concept of wasting big money on them has proven so counterproductive to him, that the Marlins owner figures he can just handle the job himself, by proxy.

The Miami Marlins new manager Dan Jennings stands in the dugout during the second inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Miami, Monday, May 18, 2015.  (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
The Miami Marlins new manager Dan Jennings stands in the dugout during the second inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Miami, Monday, May 18, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

By placing Jennings, never a manager, in direct command over in-game decisions, Loria eliminates the annoyance of pushback the next time he wants to bench somebody or write up a new lineup card or promote a minor-leaguer in response to a galling loss or string of losses.

That “new voice” that president of baseball operations Michael Hill spoke of is really an echo of Loria’s own.

Jennings has often stated how much he loves the owner and how he has been treated as a valued Marlins employee. He feels that he owes Loria for every opportunity with the organization, including this one. They talk pretty much daily about every facet of the team and that won’t change now just because Jennings is wearing a uniform instead of a suit.

Also avoided here is the need to dedicate another big-money budget item for a manager. Ozzie Guillen and Mike Redmond are old contracts that must be paid. Jennings is already on the payroll. The other guys may be losses but Jennings is a two-for-one special. Loria, who rolled out all the dough for Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, doesn’t mind spending money but he wants it to be on his terms.

That’s why the 16-22 start was so galling. Redmond got a two-year extension at the end of the 2014 season. Marlins president David Samson wants to take the blame for Loria on that one, giving a guy a new deal without having enough faith in him to ride out a couple of bad months with him.

“The old story is a turnaround specialist may be different than the person needed once the turnaround is ready for its next phase,” Samson said Monday. “I think that may be something I got wrong. Red was really great turning it around and navigating through … I may have been wrong for the same voice continuing that process.”

Miami Marlins president David Samson, right, responds to a question as general manager Dan Jennings, left, looks on during a news conference where Jennings was named Marlins manager, Monday, May 18, 2015, in Miami. Jennings replaces Mike Redmond. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Miami Marlins president David Samson, right, responds to a question as general manager Dan Jennings, left, looks on during a news conference where Jennings was named Marlins manager, Monday, May 18, 2015, in Miami. Jennings replaces Mike Redmond. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Listen, though, to what Samson said this spring about the Marlins’ botched try at achieving instant karma by putting volatile Ozzie Guillen in charge of a team peppered with freshly acquired stars. That strategy, remember, was quickly abandoned via a midseason roster flush.

“As I look back on it, we thought that we were doing it right and we weren’t,” Samson said on March 23. “Now, I think we’re doing it right again and I think it makes more sense.
“We may have underestimated the importance of clubhouse culture back then. As we thought back to 2003 and thought back to winning, the clubhouse culture and who you had in the clubhouse may have made a big difference. This clubhouse, with Red at the helm, is special.”

Pick a message, any message. Just know that Samson has taken the role of designated fall guy for Loria and Jennings, never a manager at any level in professional baseball, is Loria’s attempt to minimize the instinctive pitch-by-pitch power of the manager while maximizing the global reach of the owner and his front office.

In effect, the front office runs the whole show now, not from up in the stadium suites but up close and personal, just in case any player is unclear on exactly what Loria expects of him on a given day or a given at-bat.

Jennings, again, is a smart guy. The Marlins, however, have fired a guy who had very little managerial experience and replaced him with one who had no managerial experience whatsoever until Monday night’s 13-inning loss to Arizona.

Being realistic, the best you could hope for from Jennings is to do no worse than Redmond on the pitch-by-pitch decisions that alter but seldom actually dictate wins and losses. Maybe that will be possible with former Seattle bench coach Mike Goff at his side in the dugout.

In truth, this is the closest thing to Loria managing the team himself. It’s such a grind, though, that no team owner would want to put himself through that.

Better to have Jennings give it a try, at least until some other epiphany presents itself on the question of how to motivate every last player on the Marlins roster to play at an all-star level from April until October’s World Series parade.