Florida Marlins' manager Edwin Rodriguez walks back to he dugout at the beginning of a baseball game with the New York Mets in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday June 29, 2010. Marlins' owner Jeffrey Loria announced during the game that Rodriguez will remain as manager through the remainder of the 2010 season. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
Five minutes before Tuesday night's game against the Mets in San Juan, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria called the team together in the dugout and made an announcement: interim manager Edwin Rodriguez, called up from Triple-A New Orleans, will finish the season as manager.
"I think he's gone a good job," Loria told Fox Sports Florida. "He deserves the chance."
That's all well and good (and exaggerated), but make no mistake: Loria has just overseen one epic failure of a firing and hiring process.
Nothing against Rodriguez, of course -- he'll only make so much of a difference, especially without a bench or bullpen -- but the Marlins didn't just fire the highly-respected 2008 Manager of the Year to call up some guy from Triple-A with a losing minor league record. They didn't fire their all-time winningest skipper to get a playoffs-notching jump-start from anyone like Edwin Rodriguez. They fired Fredi Gonzalez to bring in Bobby Valentine, and failed to make it happen.
Before Fredi was even fired, everyone knew Valentine was the guy. He was the guy months ago when Loria had to be talked out of making it happen even more prematurely. And he was the guy when he removed his name from the Orioles' search on the same day Fredi's job became available, and he was the guy on Friday when everyone reported he had a tentative four-year deal with the Marlins.
He was entirely in the bag, that is, until "philosophical differences" ended talks. Three guesses as to what happened, but there's only one right: Valentine must have wanted real money, more control, and a commitment to the payroll. What else is there any manager with bargaining power would ask of the Marlins? And what else would Loria deny? Those things are his specialty, and he would rather lose Bobby Valentine than compromise.
The worst of it is that Rodriguez, even if he does well, will face Fredi's same fate either at the end of the season or eventually. If two consecutive managers of the year get the chop, what hope does Edwin Rodriguez have? He's a patsy, a default hire with no leverage who'll make the best of it and then be Loria's next victim.
Actually, there is something worse than that: that the players Loria said he considers "always and foremost" won't get the actual help they need and support where it's most missing, on the bullpen and on the bench. They can't play beyond the ways Loria himself has limited them, no matter who's in charge. What a waste of Josh Johnson, who's quietly having a season for the ages, and of Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez and all the others. What squandered years on an incomplete team, whose problems are time and again blamed on the last person responsible.
And it is sad, and frustrating, and maddening that Loria refuses to learn, refuses to change, and refuses to give up his stubborn ideas of how to run a baseball team when he's left a smoldering crater where one used to be and threatens to permanently stall another.
Janie Campbell is a Florida native who believes in the pro-set and ballpark hot dogs. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the internet.