Continuity after a confusing week
A constant in an otherwise confusing week was the Marlins determination to “find the right guy” to be the next manager.
Some clarity came on Tuesday, one day shy of a week that Fredi Gonzalez was dismissed.
Ending six franctic days of speculation and plot twists, team owner Jeffrey Loria told the team minutes before taking the field on Tuesday that Edwin Rodriguez would manage the club for the remainder of the season.
At that point, the owner will re-evaluate which direction to go. The timing of the decision was crucial because the clubhouse was wondering what would happen next.
“Continuity is important, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Loria said.
To the players credit, they stayed as focused as possible under otherwise trying circumstances.
To Rodriguez’s credit, he handled his interim status with class and dignity. Never did he speak about what was in his best interests. He talked about how it would be fair foremost for the players to know who they will be answering to. Now they know.
What this means for the big picture — the future of the franchise — we’ll have to wait and see.
Still unanswered is what went wrong in the negotiations with Bobby Valentine. The frontrunner when Gonzalez was let go, all signs pointed to Valentine taking over until late Sunday night.
When Loria announced Rodriguez was staying on, he said he didn’t want to go into details of anything else. So the team isn’t saying what happened.
Indications are there was a difference in philosophy, perhaps with Valentine wanting more say in personnel moves. The Marlins remain a low-payroll roster, and the team has a number of young players, like Mike Stanton, who are adjusting to the big leagues.
Typically, high-profile managers are brought in with the expectation to win now. Whether it’s Pat Riley or Bill Parcells or Phil Jackson, they are looking to win championships, not rebuild.
Bobby Valentine would have been a Pat Riley or Bill Parcells type presence in South Florida. He would have been the Marlins’ answer to Joe Torre.
Those types of people aren’t stepping into seven-year projects. They are there to help a team reach a championship, sooner rather than later.
Perhaps after the season, Valentine will be re-visited. By then, though, he may entertain other possibilities.
Bo Porter also interviewed for the job, and he was impressive. Now Arizona’s third base coach, Porter was a strong candidate after a very good interview last Friday. Had the Marlins gone with Porter, it likely would have been a sign that they would get younger again.
Also the outfield coach, Porter would have been viewed as someone to work with Stanton, Cameron Maybin, and perhaps Logan Morrison, when he eventually is promoted from Triple-A. Porter has familiarity in the clubhouse because he was on the Marlins staff from 2007-09. The organization likes his energy and passion.
As part of the staff shakeup, outfield coach Dave Collins stepped down last Saturday. Collins was very popular. Porter would have been a familiar voice as a replacement.
By staying with Rodriguez, the organization has more time to weigh the situation without making any hasty decisions. The players also have a building connection with Rodriguez, whom many played for in the Minor Leagues.
For the rest of the year, the Marlins players and staff can focus on playing baseball. The team has work to do if they want to get back into the race. They are three-games under .500, and the July 31 trade deadline is approaching. So more changes can be made — this time in terms of player movement — if the club falls completely out of the race.
Now with the cloud of uncertainty lifted, the current staff and set of players have been given a chance to seize the opportunity.
– Joe Frisaro