October 25, 2012
One and Done for Ozzie Guillen
Fired manager Ozzie Guillen. [10/23]
Giving credence to the idea that the chase is better than the capture, the Marlins have dismissed Guillen a year after hiring him. Guillen had become the Marlins’ white whale. Each offseason brought rumors about the Marlins’ desire to bring Guillen, his outspoken nature, and his Latin American ethnicity to town. The Marlins entered the 2012 season with Guillen, a new stadium, new uniforms, and new household names on the roster. They were dreaming of a new era—an era where baseball ruled South Beach.
Those dreams never came true. Miami held first place for one day, during a white-hot June. After the All-Star break, the Marlins played like a 59-win team. You can’t put all of the blame on Guillen’s shoulders. By the time July ended, the front office was in the process of deconstructing the roster; Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate went to Los Angeles, Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to Detroit, Edward Mujica to St. Louis, and so on. Young or otherwise inexperienced players stepped in, and on the season the Marlins received replacement-level production at four positions—first base, third base, left field, and center field.
Guillen’s bluntness works for and against him. His no-holds-barred commentary after losses is refreshing and often humorous. But Guillen’s public role forbids him from making political statements; something he ignored when commenting on Fidel Castro early in the season. The fallout from those comments invariably played a role in souring the Guillen-Marlins relationship. One thing working in Guillen’s favor is how his players still appear to respect him. Despite a public feud with closer Heath Bell, at least one Marlins player expressed disbelief after news of the Guillen firing broke. Guillen may have lost the faith of the front office, but seemingly not the clubhouse.
Guillen will land another managerial gig sometime in the near future. His bullpen management with the White Sox drew rave reviews, and he brought an aggressive style to the Marlins—Miami ranked near the top in overall stolen-base attempts, and at the top in double-steal tries. Factoring in Guillen’s relationship with most of his players only ups his attractiveness. Of course, Guillen’s loud ways make him a prime candidate for a television gig if he wants to sit out for a year.
As for the Marlins, their next manager will be the seventh in eight seasons. Miami had reported interest in Bo Porter before, but he took the Astros job. Two names to keep in mind are Mike Redmond and Bryan Price. Redmond has a history with the club as a player, and Price is currently serving as the Reds’ pitching coach. Mike Lowell and Jeff Conine have had their names bandied about as well, though neither seems particularly interested.
No matter whom the Marlins select, the front office will need an active offseason to better the roster. Miami has to decide whether Logan Morrison is reliable enough to pencil in at first base or left field, and whether it trusts Gorkys Hernandez and/or Justin Ruggiano to man another outfield spot. (For what it’s worth, some in the industry are skeptical of Ruggiano’s ability to hit offspeed pitches.) If the Marlins are able to reconstruct their roster a bit then who knows. Maybe their next manager will last more than a season.