Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has some explaining to do
So, the biggest contributors to baseball’s revenue-sharing program might ask, how are the Marlins spending our money in 2015?
To pay former manager Ozzie Guillen for the final year of his four-year, $10 million contract.
To pay former general manager Larry Beinfest and special assistant Jim Fleming, both of whom also are signed through ’15.
And to pay their latest former manager, Mike Redmond, whom they dismissed Sunday after awarding him an extension last September through 2017.
The actions of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria are dubious enough from a baseball perspective – Redmond’s replacement will be the team’s sixth manager since 2010 (and seventh if you count Brandon Hyde, who ran the team for one game in ’11).
But this time, fans, media and industry observers will not be the only ones questioning Loria. No, he’s also going to hear it from his fellow owners, who cannot be happy with the way he is running his club.
The opening of Marlins Park in 2012 was supposed to end the franchise’s long run as a revenue-sharing recipient and transform it into a contributor.
Instead, the Marlins remain one of the largest recipients and – ahem – one of baseball’s most profitable franchises.
Incredible, considering they ranked 28th in average home attendance entering Sunday’s play after ranking 27th and 29th the previous two seasons.
Incredible, considering that their below-market TV deal with FOX Sports runs through 2020, though the team wants to renegotiate and ideally begin a new contract in ’17.
Oh, and let’s not forget: On top of all the money the Marlins are paying former managers and executives, they also owed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia more than $14 million when they released him earlier this month.
If you were the owner of say, a high-revenue club such as the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers, wouldn’t you want answers?
The dismissals of Redmond and his bench coach, Rob Leary, are just the latest manifestations of Loria’s helter-skelter management style.
Once Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported last month that Redmond was in trouble, he was as good as gone. As one source told me shortly after that, “When Jeffrey gets something in his mind, he can’t let it go.”
Yes, the Marlins are a disappointment at 16-22. But they’re still without their best starting pitcher, Jose Fernandez. They’ve also been without perhaps their second-best pitcher, Henderson Alvarez. And seriously, was it Redmond’s fault that the Marlins are tied for the major-league lead with eight blown saves and rank 23rd in bullpen ERA?
Of course not.
Redmond last season led the Marlins to a 77-85 record, an improvement of 15 wins over his first year as manager. He received his extension after helping the team end its streak of three consecutive last-place finishes and leading it to its most victories since 2010.
Players respect Redmond. Many took on his grinder mentality. But it’s no secret that Loria likes fiery managers, and when the Marlins started 3-11, he started second-guessing Redmond’s in-game strategy, sources said.
It’s Loria’s team, and to an extent he is free to run it however he chooses. But he also is part of an industry, an industry that continues to supplement his revenue with annual contributions in the tens of millions.
He has some explaining to do.
Not to fans, reporters or even his players.
To his fellow owners.