With a new stadium, a new star in Jose Reyes and new life in South Florida last off-season (not to mention a new “location” as the “Miami” Marlins) the Marlins wanted to make a big splash in selecting a new manager. The splash they made in hiring Ozzie Guillen was akin to Refrigerator Perry doing a cannoball from a ten meter platform.
I’ll give you a moment to process that image.
Guillen seemed to be the perfect man for the job, a successful Latin American male in a community that wants and needs Latin American role models, a bombastic presence on a team that was looking to make a bombastic return to relevance in the National League, and a ratings producing mouthpiece on the Showtime documentary that was set to follow the team’s progress last season.
One year later, Guillen looks like the worst managerial decision ever made in baseball. He offended Miami’s Cuban community by openly touting respect for, Fidel Castro. He battled openly with Miami’s hierarchy, who aren’t the most stable group to begin with, and showed a general disdain for his players, specifically Heath Bell.
In truth, Guillen never changed his style from his White Sox days, and the Marlins should have known what they were getting into. In Chicago, Guillen openly ripped his players, but the team was steadily improving while he did so, so the World Series-starved fans and organization on the South Side was willing to put up with it. When his approach brought them a title in 2006, the win meant that even though many people hated him in Chicago, you couldn’t question his results.
In Florida, Guillen’s brusque could only ever ruin the feel-good factor that was the Marlins coming into their new ballpark. Instead of a city focused on a young, talented team ready to compete in the National League, everyone turned their attention to the travelling 38-ring circus that was Ozzie. On a team filled with outsized personalities (Logan Morrison, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell until his trade), the Marlins brought in a man whose idea of handling such players is to be more colorful than they are. Just by being himself, Ozzie torpedoed what should have been a special season in Miami, win or lose.
So when Larry Beinfest and Jeffrey Loria went looking for a new manager, they went and found a man who has the potential to be Guillen’s polar opposite. Mike Redmond’s name may have come out of the blue, but anyone who remembers Redmond as a player can probably see the logic in his hire.
Of course one of the main reasons that the inexperienced Redmond was hired is strictly financial. Guillen will be paid $7.5 million over the next three years to stay far away from the Marlins, and since Redmond has not managed above the Florida St. League, he comes cheap. A closer look at the man, however, sees that he has a chance to succeed.
Redmond was a major league survivor. Never drafted, never thought of, but he played fairly regularly and well for a thirteen years in the major leagues based on two traits: steady defense and personality.
As a catcher, Redmond was the ideal backup. In 687 career regular season games, he committed just 18 errors and 23 passed balls. Furthermore, he seemed to understand, even embrace, the idea that he was not an everyday player. He spent the balance of his career backing up three excellent catchers in Charles Johnson, Ivan Rodriguez and Joe Mauer, and took his opportunities when he could. On what will undoubtedly be a young Marlins team in 2013, a manager who understands the mentality of all players can be crucial. Handling players was never Guillen’s strong suit, and he could be downright brutal to those who lacked experience.
After the torment of the 2012 baseball season, there is little doubt that the Miami Marlins would like to make baseball fun again. Redmond may just be the man. A talker with a wry sense of humor who was known for taking batting practice naked to get out of slumps, Redmond has experience keeping it loose. his press conferences will certainly unpredictable, but in a different fashion than the unhinged Guillen. Furthermore, he knows the Marlins, having played for the team for seven seasons, one of which wsa their 2003 World Series triumph.
Who knows what will happen to Redmond in Miami. Loria and Beinfest don’t have the best track record when it comes to managers and it remains to be seen how patient they will be with their new man. For now, however, it appears the Marlins have what they need: the anti-Ozzie Guillen.