Hans Christian Anderson wrote a tale nearly 200 years ago that continues to be relevant today. It was a simple tale; two tailors were brought before an emperor, who wished to indulge in his fetish for clothing. The tailors claimed they would make clothing from an invisible fabric – a fabric that was only invisible to those who were incompetent. So the emperor’s court pretended to be able to see the fabric, while the swindling tailors continued their deed. Even the emperor played along, so that none would display their ignorance.
So it is in the House of Loria. Surrounded by yes men, none dare point out the fact that the emperor has no clothes. In fact, the emperor himself can’t even admit it despite the fact all have been pointing it out. And yet, this latest flurry of moves, not seemingly well-planned but perhaps a long time coming, is supposed to get us back to somehow save face and restore respectability. Larry Beinfest and Jim Fleming are now gone; Michael Hill may soon follow. Their greatest crime? Simply pointing out the emperor has no clothes. Something even the rest of the village of Miami has been pointing out for a while.
Clearly any perceived problem in Miami is not going to be fixed with the firing of Larry Beinfest. All indications point to a bigger problem – a meddlesome owner with no oversight. Dan Jennings (the front office member, not the often promoted/demoted reliever) is rumored to be moving up the chain of command and will fill Beinfest’s old seat. Jennings has been described as one of “Loria’s favorites” which makes you wonder what Beinfest was considering he had been serving with Loria for 13 years and has a 24 year career in MLB.
By all reports, if they are indeed true, display an owner who can’t even unify his own clubhouse but instead plays favorites and invites chaos. Not exactly the kind of “emperor” one wants in charge. A body where the left arm does one thing and the right another is not one that will be sustainable, let alone thrive. Beinfest was never in a position of strength, he was mostly forced to deal from a position of weakness because of Loria’s desires. A tight budget mostly led decisions but all was supposed to change once the new ballpark opened. It did, for about 3 months, then the dismantling began and Beinfest was once again charged with the dirty work. This he did, and was able to line up solid moves to give the Marlins a leg to stand on – but the schism within the organization would prove too strong.
There are several incidents that illustrate the chaos in working order, and what would eventually lead to the ousting of Beinfest and his staff. There are many who indicated that the Heath Bell signing, for example, was not one in which Beinfest endorsed. He and his staff had advised against it but Loria, wanting to make a splash, pushed for it and the money was spent. It turned out to be a horrible investment.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Marlins fracturing started significantly back in 2009. Then-manager Fredi Gonzalez was in the midst of a winning season (Marlins would go on to win 83 games) and Loria was aiming to get Bobby Valentine to come in and take over. It would seem that Beinfest may have finally had his guy on the bench but Loria had other ideas. In fact, it was Loria who chased Joe Girardi out of town and all he did was land on the Yankees bench and lead them to a title. Gonzalez left and went to Atlanta to replace Bobby Cox and has led them to another NL East title this season.
Last season the Marlins blew up their experiment before it was even over. Not sure how to read who lined up where, but it was telling that the Marlins dealt their best 3B prospect in Matt Dominguez to land Carlos Lee from the Astros – only to trade Hanley Ramirez about two weeks later. That move alone demonstrated the schizophrenia that has plagued this organization of late. There was no vision, only reaction. The emperor was naked.
What if the Marlins had kept Dominguez? And reloaded this team with its current roster – how much brighter would this team’s future be? If the plan all along was to blow up the roster and rebuild, this move would never had been made. Yet it is a clear signal that this franchise is in chaos and turmoil.
There is also the Tino Martinez thing. Reports are that Chris Valaika and Derek Dietrich would be protected when they spoke out against Martinez. When it all went public, lights where shined in every direction and both players suddenly were ousted from the MLB roster. Both were able to make significant contributions for a team that was desperately looking for steady bats. Dietrich in particular looked to be ready to oust Donovan Solano at 2B and become the future. Will that continue or is getting involved in the Martinez situation, a Loria favorite, going to get him into the doghouse of Loria and out the door?
It is indicative that the problems for this team start with Loria. His inability to trust his hired experts and instead make himself the arbiter of talent has gotten this franchise in trouble. Perhaps Beinfest lacked the skills to handle Loria or perhaps Loria had grown deaf to his advice. Either way a change was inevitable but the solution is much deeper. Will Loria hire someone who will tell him “no” and stick to a winning game plan? Not until the proud emperor admits his nudity before us all.