On Tuesday evening the Florida Marlins announced a cabinet shuffle of sorts in their front office, hiring a new face and giving some old ones new portfolios.
Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest introduced Marty Scott, the club’s new vice president of player development, before Tuesday’s game. The Scott hire was part of some front office tinkering. Former vice president of scouting and player development Jim Fleming is now a special assistant to Beinfest, and scouting director Stan Meek was promoted to vice president of scouting.
The moves didn’t receive a whole lot of attention, primarily because, well, it was the Florida Marlins making them, and secondly, it seemed like little more than an organization getting with the times and putting more of a focus on scouting and the first year player draft.
Then came this:
Wow. In the great, long, sad history of poor decisions, this has to be among the worst. I’m not being facetious here, but can anyone think of a single instance in which ownership taking a greater role in the personnel decisions on a professional sports team has actually worked out?
You could mention George Steinbrenner, but that hardly seems fair considering that the New York Yankees were pretty terrible from 1982 – 1992 and a lot of the credit for their success has to go to the amount of money they were willing to spend on acquiring talent. Roman Abramovich and Chelsea FC are probably in a similar boat.
The idea of Loria, who plundered a former franchise for his own gain and continues to operate the Marlins as a money maker before a game winner, exerting more control over the roster and management in the toughest division in the National League should warrant lemming like behaviour in the Marlins’ faithful.
We got a taste of what a Loria controlled front office can do this past off season:
Thinking they were close to contention in the NL East, the Marlins front office (or ownership, who knows?) made two rather ill-advised trades. The first sent young, high-ceiling centerfielder Cameron Maybin to the San Diego Padres for right-handed relievers Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica. The second sent All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla to the division-rival Braves for utility-infielder Omar Infante and lefty reliever Michael Dunn.
And we got another taste of how Loria treats the personnel he controls when outfielder Logan Morrison issued a dissenting voice to other moves by ownership. Speaking of the firing of hitting coach and mentor John Mallee (who was almost immediately hired by the Toronto Blue Jays), Morrison said:
The front office is definitely around, but I don’t think we have to express anything or talk to them to let them know how we feel about it. I don’t think it was their choice, either. Actually, I know it wasn’t their choice. Absolutely. 100 percent. You know it was [Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria]. I’m sure he’ll tell you that, too.
After a closed door meeting with Loria and Beinfest, Morrison revealed:
[Loria] said he’s not mad at me. He basically said that you’re an important part of this organization and you’re going to be for a long time, and that going through what I’ve gone through, he understands why I’d be mad. I didn’t understand what one thing would have to do with another, personal life and baseball. But I kind of went along with it.
What Morrison had been “going through” was dealing with the death of his father who passed away last December. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that bringing up another person’s family tragedy as a means of congratulating your own passionate levels of understanding isn’t the most noble of gestures.
In the past, we’ve talked about the knowledge gap between American League and National League front offices. While there may have been some hope for this gap to shrink following the departure of Jim Hendry and the likelihood that Ed Wade would move on after the sale of the Astros, Loria exerting more control than he already has is likely to make that gap wide enough for the Marlins owner himself to fit his massive ego.
At least the Phillies, Braves, Nationals and Mets can feel good about this.