In 1999, when I was working for The Sun in Baltimore, the Orioles hired Sammy Ellis to be their seventh pitching coach in seven seasons.
I wrote a column in which I mostly declined to refer Ellis by name, calling him No. 7 instead. There was no point in getting too familiar. And sure enough, Ellis lasted only one season.
Which brings us to the Miami Marlins’ hiring of Mike Redmond to be their fifth manager in less than three years and eighth in less than 10 — counting Jack McKeon twice and not counting Brandon Hyde, who managed only one game.
With all due respect to Redmond, who is highly respected and admired within the game, there is only one proper thing to call him:
The Marlins will prattle on about how Redmond signed a three-year contract, but pay them no mind. Ozzie Guillen had a four-year contract. Joe Girardi had a three-year contract. Look where it got them.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria can offer reasons for every change — an employer can always find reasons for dumping employees, and Guillen certainly had it coming.
But why should anyone trust the Marlins’ latest move to work?
Loria has yet to prove that he can build a successful long-term relationship with a manager. Fredi Gonzalez, who lasted the longest — three-plus seasons — told the Miami Herald in September, “There’s not a manager dead or alive that Jeffrey thinks is good enough. Not Connie Mack, not anyone.”
Loria shot back, calling Gonzalez’s remark was “classless” and saying that the manager was “a colossal failure” with the Marlins. But Gonzalez, now with the Atlanta Braves, is one of the more mild-mannered men in the sport. And the Marlins’ recent roll call of managers certainly supports Gonzalez’s criticism of Loria.
So, should we offer Redmond congratulations or condolences?
Congratulations — to a point. Redmond, 41, actually stands a chance of becoming a decent manager, if Loria allows it to happen.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ Mike Matheny and Chicago White Sox’s Robin Ventura proved last season that a manager can succeed with little or no experience. Redmond, after retiring in 2010, managed two years in the low minors with the Toronto Blue Jays, which is more than either Matheny or Ventura could say when they were hired.
The Marlins have purged two players they perceived as cancers last season, third baseman Hanley Ramirez and closer Heath Bell. They figure to display their trademark aggression this winter, even if they spend less lavishly than they did a year ago. And, in addition to Redmond, they have hired back Perry Hill, one of the game’s best instructors, as their first-base and infield coach.
At some point, though, they will need stability.
Their front office remains factionalized. Their clubhouse lacks a veteran core. And their manager seems to change every year.
Redmond is the latest interim, managing until further notice.