It was supposed to be a dream season for the Marlins. They've been planning for 2012 for years, starting with the contract extensions for Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez. They chased every premium free agent this offseason, and nabbed a couple of them. They were going to turn Miami into a baseball town.
But that version of the dream has been over for a few months. And now USA Today's Bob Nightengale is reporting that there are going to be big changes in the Marlins' front office:
The Marlins, according to two high-ranking executives but not permitted to speak publicly because the final decision will be made by owner Jeffrey Loria, are planning to fire Larry Beinfest, vice president/baseball operations, perhaps as early as next week. He is expected to be replaced by Dan Jennings, the Marlins' assistant general manager and vice president of player personnel.
Nightengale also tweets that Jennings will be the GM, too, which means he'll replace …
Quick. Tell me who the Marlins' outgoing GM will be. Give me a name. You can name the other 29. Come up with the name of the Marlins' GM.
I know, I know. I always forget too. Larry Beinfest is in the papers, commenting on all things Marlin. But it's Hill who had the money quote of the year for the team:
"We have certain veterans who we thought would carry us in Hanley [Ramirez] and [Jose] Reyes, and that the kids would take that next step. [Giancarlo] Stanton to his credit is for the most part taking that step, but [Logan Morrison] has not and the veterans have crapped all over themselves."
Do headlines get better than "Marlins GM stands by 'veterans have crapped all over themselves' comment"? I submit they do not. But whether it was really Hill or Beinfest running the show, it's worth looking at why the Marlins fell way, way short of expectations. Here are the reasons for a disappointing season that the Marlins should have anticipated:
- Jose Reyes regressing to his career averages
- Emilio Bonifacio regressing to his career averages
- Ozzie Guillen being insane
And the reasons they couldn't (or shouldn't) have expected:
- Gaby Sanchez being terrible
- Logan Morrison performing poorly
- Heath Bell imploding
- Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson not returning to previous performance levels
That list is simplistic, but you get the idea. There was a lot that happened to the Marlins that smart people didn't see coming, so it might seem unfair to pin the blame on Beinfest and Hill. But something was off in Miami. It might not be a bad time to change. Michael Jong at Fish Stripes is torn:
Following a tough season for which Beinfest, Hill, and the rest of their "camp" is not entirely to blame, what better time than now to move forward?
At the same time, perhaps (club president) David Samson served as a bridge in the organization between the tempestuous owner and the more reasonable front office. Perhaps a move to Jennings, who is seemingly on the side of said tempestuous owner, would remove Samson as a bridge and a filter and leave Loria too close to the top of the decision-making structure. Would you want Loria, an owner who is already considered to be too "hands-on," that capable of affecting team personnel moves by having his "side" on top of the structure? Would you want Loria essentially fully running this team without an outside voice filter?
The Marlins were supposed to contend this year. They lost early, traded off key pieces, and saw attendance at the shiny new park dip below 18,000 for several games. They still have some talent, but it's hard to see exactly how they can turn the roster around without simply hoping for Morrison, Johnson, Reyes, and Bell to get better. Whatever the case, it reportedly won't be Beinfest who is there to see the changes through.
Oh, and Michael Hill. You can't forget Michael Hill. Until you do.