Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Deciphering Gonzalez' firing
Just a little chunk of the story about Fredi Gonzalez's demise:
When last season ended, Gonzalez's job was considered in jeopardy because Loria was upset that the Marlins failed to make the playoffs, although they finished 12 games above .500 with the smallest payroll in baseball. Several times this year, Loria denied Gonzalez should be worried about his job security, most recently at the start of a trip May 7 in Washington.
But at the start of spring training, Loria had made it clear he had high hopes this season.
"I expect us to make the playoffs," he said. "We've got all the ammunition we need."
That comment ratcheted up expectations for a team that outscored opponents by six runs last season and made no major offseason additions. Payroll this season is about $45 million, the highest since 2005 but still third-lowest in the NL.
This year, the Marlins are 34-36 despite having outscored their opponents by 29 runs.
Is that Gonzalez's fault? Maybe ... but if he's the reason for the Marlins underperforming their run differential by four wins this year, doesn't it follow that he was the reason for the Marlins outperforming their run differential by five wins last year?
I'm looking at the Marlins' roster and I'm seeing just one hitter (Cameron Maybin) who's obviously doing worse than expected (by me, anyway). Meanwhile, the rotation's been fine and the club's key relievers have generally pitched effectively.
Which is to say, this doesn't seem like a performance-based move unless management is measuring performance a lot differently than most of the rest of us.
I got a kick out of this quote from Gonzalez: "This is something that I want to make very clear: My exit from the Marlins had nothing to do with Hanley."
How in the hell would he know? Did he fire himself? Is he clairvoyant? This is pretty obviously a case of Gonzalez being either classy (to take any heat off Ramirez) or self-serving (to avoid admitting that he lost, for a couple of days, control of his clubhouse).
And while I won't suggest that the thing with Ramirez got Gonzalez fired, it also strikes me as odd to completely discount the single most visible moment of Gonzalez's tenure as manager (or this season, at least).
Which isn't to suggest firing Gonzalez is a good thing. The Marlins have now fired Joe Girardi (who was good enough to be hired by the Yankees) and Fredi Gonzalez (who might be good enough to be hired by the Braves). You have to give the Marlins their due; they make a lot of smart moves and play respectably every year despite their payroll. But I can't help wondering if management might need a little work on their people skills.