Pity Mike Redmond. We were barely past mid-April before it seemed as if the rumors of his impending doom as the Miami Marlins' manager were already being aired. But you have to think he knew that’s the nature of being an employee in Jeffrey Loria’s operation. If there’s one consistent truth in Loria’s wacky world, it’s that regardless of whether he's spending money, his teams are dedicated to treating managers as replaceable commodities.
Keep in mind, in 17 years of ownership spread across two franchises, Loria has already used nine different managers. Whoever gets introduced on Monday will be his 10th big league skipper and ninth hire. This will be Loria’s fifth in-season change at manager, without even getting into the two weird one-year runs with Joe Girardi (2006) and Ozzie Guillen (2012), two occasions when neither man could get away from the Marlins fast enough.
The midseason switches:
2001: Fired revered Expos skipper Felipe Alou at 21-32, switching to Jeff Torborg. The Expos stayed bad.
2003: Fired Torborg at 16-22, tabbing Jack McKeon. The Marlins subsequently won the World Series.
2010: Fired Fredi Gonzalez at 34-36, turning to Edwin Rodriguez. The Marlins stayed bad.
2011: Fired Edwin Rodriguez to resurrect McKeon at the age of 80, after a one-game spin with interim skipper Brandon Hyde. The Marlins stayed bad.
2015: Fired Mike Redmond at 16-22, tabbing, well, we’ll find out soon. Dollars to doughnuts says it won’t be Jack McKeon. Probably.
The 2003 team might be the informative experience to keep in mind, because that Marlins team, like this one, was one that entered the season burdened with big expectations. The 2003 team had added Ivan Rodriguez and Juan Pierre, had a talented young rotation, and was supposed to contend. McKeon came in and, aided by a bullpen restocked with in-season deals to add closer Ugueth Urbina and fragile setup ace Chad Fox, plus the call-up of some kid named Miguel Cabrera, suddenly had a better crew to work with than Torborg had.
Will history repeat itself? Well, that might seem the obvious hope here, especially with Jose Fernandez due back atop the rotation in a few weeks. The 2003 team had a stronger lineup with Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell, Luis Castillo and Juan Encarnacion all in their primes. However, the expanded wild-card format and -- barring a big in-season comeback by the Washington Nationals -- the lack of an overwhelmingly dominant team in the league can fuel ambitions in every front office, even one off to a 16-22 start.
In the broad strokes, can we take this as further comment on the ultimate interchangeability of managers? Perhaps, but there's reason to believe that decisions like this matter, and McKeon's in-season adaptations in 2003 reflect the kind of problem-solving that a change can provide. In the end, different managers have different skill sets that might make them effective managers of coaching staffs, players or, fundamentally, people. McKeon was part of a solution to the problem of getting the most out of a team, but it's important to keep in mind that it wasn’t Loria’s first experience with the ax, and after he whacked someone as revered as Felipe Alou, perhaps it’s safe to say that nobody drawing checks from the Marlins should ever feel entirely safe when the team is struggling.
So there’s a potential benefit, in the same way that any workplace might need a new face to shake things up. But a successful selection ultimately depends on who’s making the choices. Torborg’s past track record with the Indians, White Sox and Mets made him an odd choice to bring back to the dugout, and it didn’t turn out well. The selections of Girardi and Guillen and even Gonzalez were perhaps inspired, but the first two soured quickly, and Gonzalez seemed more than ready to leave when the end came. Whoever manages the Marlins next is banking perhaps less on his ultimate future in Miami, and more on an opportunity that he can leverage into a long-term career somewhere else. And not everybody wants to make that move midseason.
Meanwhile, in Redmond’s case you have to hope that he’ll land on his feet, perhaps joining Girardi and Gonzalez among the ranks of happy former Fish. After last season, he got a contract extension through 2017, so he has that going for him. Every manager is hired to be fired, but taking a job in Miami means knowing your date with a pink slip is coming sooner than it would elsewhere.
Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.