Blog Entry

Marlins job is the best . . . or the worst

Posted on: June 19, 2011 1:31 pm
In Josh Johnson, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison, the Marlins have some of the best young players in baseball. They have a new stadium set to open next year.

They have a talented and creative front office.

Who wouldn't want to manage this team?

In Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins have an eccentric owner who is always convinced his team should be in the playoffs, but rarely convinced that he should pay for it. In David Samson, they have a club president who, to be blunt, is one of the least-liked people in the game. They have a new ballpark coming, yes, but many people who know the South Florida market are convinced it's in the wrong location and will never solve their attendance problems. And they're in the National League East, quickly becoming one of the best -- and maybe one of the biggest-spending -- divisions in baseball.

Who would want to manage this team?

There are times I think the Marlins job is a great one, so great that I could believe Bobby Valentine would want it, so great that I could believe Ozzie Guillen would leave his "second father," White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, for it.

"The next year or two, they will really be heard from," one baseball person familiar with the Marlins said on Sunday, after Edwin Rodriguez resigned as the team's latest manager. "Those young kids just need to be toughened up."

Those young kids are incredibly talented. Johnson, currently on the disabled list, is mentioned every year as a possible Cy Young winner. Scouts can't stop talking about Stanton, who has as much raw power as any player in baseball. And while Ramirez is in the midst of a hugely disappointing season, he's a 27-year-old three-time All-Star who has already won a batting title.

A month ago, when the Marlins were one game out of first place in the NL East, it was easy to believe that they would stay in the race all year. People were asking how Loria would deal with Rodriguez having all this success, when everyone knew the owner really wanted Ozzie Guillen as his manager.

Then came the collapse, which also tells you something about these Marlins players. One Marlins person complained that players spent too much time "pouting" after Loria ordered hitting coach John Mallee fired last week.

Maybe they do need to be toughened up. Maybe the right manager will turn this team into the playoff contender that Loria has always claimed they should be.

But remember the obstacles. Loria is a George Steinbrenner, but without the big spending. The NL East features the great Phillies and the outstanding (and young) Braves, along with the Nationals (Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann and a willingness to spend big) and the Mets (big problems now, but with the New York market to draw on, big potential ahead).

This is either the best job in baseball, or the worst. I'll let you know when I figure out which one it is.


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