A new era begins today, as Jack McKeon has decided to retire.
But let’s be honest here, this wasn’t entirely Jack’s decision. Yes, he may say that his family was involved, but one gets the feeling Jack’s ambition to coach again is still in tact. He has mentioned he would like to pass Casey Stengel as the 2nd oldest manager in Major League Baseball history.
But for now, he will only remain with the Marlins as a special consultant. And that is about as good as it should get.
Jeffrey Loria has accomplished a few things here as owner of the Marlins, all noteworthy. He has been able to take over this franchise, and put a good product on the field. The Marlins have amassed three straight winning seasons now, since their championship in ’03, and now have four total seasons being over .500. Stability – at least on the field – is what Loria has been able to produce as a result. This takes creating an atmosphere of loyalty – both to the organization and to the members that create it. So, we should not have been surprised at his loyalty and committment to Jack McKeon – who by many reports had worn out his welcome last season.
But this change goes beyond just Jack – his bench also looks to get an overhaul, as every coach except Perry Hill has been given permission to hear offers from other teams. Hill is a must, he is one of the more respected coaches in all of baseball, helping to guide the defensive assignments of the Marlins as well as golden glove opportunities for his adherents.
The main target to be replaced is obviously McKeon, but the incoming manager will also have to have some say over who his staff should be. This is also part of the bargaining that needs to take place with the position and who the Marlins decide the replacement will be. That, and the other major factor, money.
Which brings us to the other main concern: how much money will Loria have in order to committ to this team. Again, bad attendance has left the already cash-strapped Marlins without much to work with.
It is certain, though, that a new era is going to take place this offseason. With Jack’s retirement comes the search for a new manager and that will take place on an organizational level, starting with the debate as to what kind of a manager the Marlins need and who the targets are. This has already been taking place. Joe Girardi and Lou Pinella are two of the more prominent names being tossed around at this point, but it is unlikely either will land here in South Florida at this point. A big part of the search will be the cost of the manager coming in and both these candidates should cost pretty good coin.
So, the offseason begins for the Marlins, far too soon than most would have anticipated. But begin it does, as does the next era in Marlins history.