Miami Marlins owner Jeff Loria fired manager Mike Redmond in mid-May. The Marlins were 16-22 at the time. Loria explained his decision a few days later by saying he considered the Marlins to be “lifeless.”
Loria gave the job to Dan Jennings, the Marlins general manager. Jennings had coached a high school team three decades earlier. That was it for on-field experience.
Entering Wednesday, the Marlins are 48-65 since Redmond was fired, 64-87 overall, and Jennings’ managerial career in the big leagues will end on the last day of the season. Then, Loria and son-in-law David Samson will set about hiring their seventh manager in the past seven seasons.
Doug Mientkiewicz would seem to be an excellent candidate. He’s 41, grew up in Miami, has put in three outstanding years managing in the Twins’ farm system and has a big personality. He also was able to add enough to a ballclub to carve out a 10-year career in the big leagues as a first baseman without power.
(You will have to insert your own Joe Mauer cheap shot here. I’m not going to provide one.)
There are a couple of things that could be working against Mientkiewicz:
One, Loria received heat for not interviewing a minority candidate before hiring Jennings, and the owner could feel pressure to go that route; and two, Mientkiewicz would know that he was being hired to be fired, based on owner’s whim and not common sense.
But there is this advantage in serving as the Marlins manager: When you’re fired by Loria, there is no penalty attached when it comes to the perception of other organizations.
Joe Girardi was fired by Loria after one season and now manages the New York Yankees. Fredi Gonzalez was fired by the Marlins in the middle of the 2010 season and was hired by Atlanta immediately after the season.
There’s no reason for Mientkiewicz to pass on a chance to manage the Marlins. There’s even a chance his baseball acumen, energy and ability to schmooze would allow him to challenge Gonzalez’ 3 ½-year run (2007-10) for managerial seniority with Loria.
There’s also no reason to wait around for a managerial opportunity in Minnesota. The successful debut of Paul Molitor, now 59, as the Twins manager sets him up for a five- or six-year run in the job.
Mientkiewicz was advertised as one of the three finalists to replace Ron Gardenhire after last season, along with Molitor and Torey Lovullo (the interim manager in Boston).
The process was always stacked in Molitor’s favor. Best I can gather, General Manager Terry Ryan told Mientkiewicz how well he had done in the interview process and then hinted that Doug was too early in his non-playing career to get the job.
Let’s go with unhappy rather than resentful to describe Mientkiewicz’s mood when he arrived in Fort Myers, Fla., for minor league camp.
Mientkiewicz did not allow this to change the way he went about the task of managing a club. He dived into it at Class AA Chattanooga with the same goals as previously: to get players ready for promotion and to win with whatever was his current roster.
Mientkiewicz was offered the managerial job at the Class A farm club in Fort Myers for 2013. It was close to his Florida home, so he made the leap back into the bus-riding days of his minor league youth.
He got off to a pretty good start. The 2013 Miracle won its first 14 games. In 2014, he managed the franchise to the first Florida State League playoff title in its 21 years of existence.
He moved up to Chattanooga, Tenn., the Twins’ new Class AA affiliate. On Monday, Mientkiewicz and his players gave the Lookouts a Southern League title for the first time since 1988.
“This group won a championship in Elizabethton [Rookie], they won for me last year in Fort Myers and now they won at Chattanooga,” Mientkiewicz said. “I think it’s the first time the Twins as an organization have won championships at one level and then the next in back-to-back years.
“I’m not 100 percent on that, but until someone proves me wrong, I’m claiming it for these players.”
Asked to reflect again on the Twins’ managerial decision of last November, Mientkiewicz said: “I was disappointed, but Terry and the Pohlads obviously made a good decision. Paul and his staff have done a great job with this year’s team.”
My guess is if Mientkiewicz gets an interview with the Marlins, he will get the job. And he could take it knowing that managing for Loria gets you a gold star from 29 other organizations, as soon as you get fired.