The latest report from the Sun-Sentinel, courtesy of Mike Berardino, is that Girardi is going to be booted as manager of the Marlins at the end of the season.
Berardino cites an unamed source who gives several reasons as to why this will take place: from the incident where Loria was actually yelled at by Girardi and Tuck to stop arguing with the umpire (which has several various accounts), to personnel decisions debated internally by the Marlins front office and Girardi. There are even growing concerns about Girardi’s in-game managerial skills where he has shown his inexperience most at times. For example, Abercrombie being implemented in CF at the end of a game which saw him make 2 huge errors to help blow a 4 run 10th inning lead on the Braves; bringing Josh Johnson out to continue pitching after an 82 minute rain delay which may have resulted in him landing on the DL to end the season.
But these are seemingly only reasons for Girardi’s job security to come into question, not reasons to fire him.
There are a lot of mistakes that Joe has made over the course of this season that must be factored in for a rookie manager to make. Of course, the Marlins have themselves to blame for that decision since they knew Girardi had NEVER managed anywhere prior to this season.
What is puzzling however, is what precisely the level of expectation was within the organization. What was the main objective for this franchise this season and for the front office? If they had actually foreseen their success, then firing Girardi would be excusable since they expected to get to the postseason and Girardi failed to get them there.
The success that came this season was never a realistic option. Beinfest has said as much that the success of this season is a shock to them, but only in terms of wins – not in regards to the talent level of this team.
Such a comment would only undercut any endorsement of Girardi at all, the suggestion being that the manager is almost redundant. This obviously is not the case since the Marlins are working on shipping Girardi off.
Yet before we can decry “Say it ain’t so, Joe!”, let’s not loose sight of something very important – Joe Girardi was the favorite to manage this team. He was handpicked by Jeffrey Loria a year ago and the Marlins brass were very excited in bringing him in and with the possibility of managing this team.
So what is the story here? Why exactly is Girardi being fired? For being a malcontent employee who crossed the line? For being inept and performing at an unsatisfactory level? To guide a team full of rookies above and around .500 and into the wild card chase – with only a $15M payroll – is almost unheard of. To do it as a rookie manager yourself is just short of miraculous.
Yet some feel that Joe Girardi is not the main impetus behind the Marlins success – and they would be mostly right. The Marlins are on pace to score the most runs in franchise history. They also have a guy who has grabbed 30+ saves for this organization for the 3rd straight season (each one being a different player). The young starting rotation has pitched at a very high level, too.
In other words, the talent has been there. Hanley Ramirez and Mike Jacobs were both highly touted prospects coming out of the Red Sox and Mets organizations, respectively. Anibal Sanchez was a big bonus hitching a ride to south Florida along with Ramirez – and in fact, wasn’t expected to stay for too long as he was called up to make an emergency start against the Yankees in a double header. Throw into the mix Scott Olsen, Josh Johnson, Josh Willingham and you have three home grown contributors to this team. Ricky Nolasco, another Cub gift, blossomed once he took over a spot in the rotation.
The front office went out and got the talent to load up on and compete on the field. It was made easier by the capital they traded away in assets like Lo Duca, Delgado, Beckett, Lowell, Mota, Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo.
But they were also the ones that grabbed Girardi to manage this team, too.
And lots of people are going to point the finger at Loria for having a big ego or not being man enough to somehow compromise on this issue. To fire Girardi just because his feelings got hurt is a little ridiculous. I am inclined to expect a little more from Loria as well as believe he would be more tolerant of the situation if the sentiment within the clubhouse was mutual: that being it is water under the bridge and let’s move on.
That is precisely the problem, however – there doesn’t seem to be any sentiment for tolerance where Joe is concerned. The front office has been documented to be at odds with him for some time now in dealing with personnel choices. Joe wanted Miguel at 1B instead of 3B. He wanted Willingham at catcher. He wanted Billy the Marlin to pitch the 8th.
Simply put, time has run out and so has any tolerance from the guys who own the ball to the guy who wants to manage how it is played. Girardi doesn’t seem to fit in with the franchise’s philosophy at best, or its just devolved into a mud-slinging campaign between two factions. What is strange is that the team has had a very successful year, this is the kind of thing you see develop within organizations that are struggling.