Edwin Rodriguez is not a quitter. He is a man fed up with frustrating baseball and frustrating management. In the case of the Florida Marlins, it wasn’t Rodriguez’s management that was a problem, it was the front office.
Rodriguez’s escalation from Triple-A manager to the Marlins manager was a quick one. Maybe he was ready, maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he wanted this, maybe he didn’t. The fact is, the Marlins and their quick trigger finger forced this.
Fredi Gonzalez was a good manager. He is proving that with the Atlanta Braves right now. And let me tell you, the Braves weren’t just going to throw anyone in there to replace Bobby Cox. Yet the Marlins, only one game under .500 at the time last year, fired Fredi Gonzalez. The Braves are currently seven games over .500 with Gonzalez at the helm.
The trend doesn’t stop there. Joe Girardi was a rookie manager taking over for a veteran Jack Mckeon in Florida in 2006. He guided the Marlins to a respectable 78-84 record and won manager of the year. He was promptly fired. Girardi had the youngest team in the league and the lowest payroll according to Baseball Reference. He kept the team in contention most of the season and helped unify an inexperienced team. But in the end, the Marlins pulled the trigger and let him go.
The Florida Marlins are a team that will be on their 9th manager when they promote Rodriguez’s replacement. In their 19th year of operation, Marlins managers average just barely over two years before being cut loose. For a team that always seems the be in contention for the title of “lowest payroll in baseball”, this seems wrong. For a team with two World Series titles, this seems illogical.
As a comparison, the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team without a winning season since 1992, have only had six different managers during the same time period. The Kansas City Royals, with only two winning years since 1993, have only had seven different managers. And the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos, who have seen only six winning seasons since 1993, have used just four different managers.
While the Marlins front office is busy installing their revolving door to the manager’s office, they are letting good managers get away. As such, the Marlins will be on the outside looking in at the success of former skippers. Jim Leyland took the Tigers to a World Series and is locked in a battle for first place this season with the Indians. Joe Girardi won a World Series in his second year with the Yankees. And Fredi Gonzalez has his team in the wild card hunt and within striking distance of the red-hot Phillies.
Major League managers rarely get the chance they deserve. They are often tasked with the immediate turn-around of terrible teams. “Worst to First” is the motto slung around their necks whether fair or not. Yet the Florida Marlins take this to a whole new level.
My advice to the new Marlins manager is simple. Manage your expectations. Keep your resume close at hand, because those expectations should revolve around a short tenure with a team always looking for the next best thing.