Minutes after avoiding being the first team to be no-hit this season, the Marlins became the second team to get rid of their manager in 2015. On Sunday afternoon, after being blanked by the Braves in a 5–0 loss that capped a three-game sweep at the hands of Atlanta, Miami announced it was letting go of skipper Mike Redmond, as well as bench coach Rob Leary. The move comes weeks after speculation that Redmond was on the hot seat for the Marlins, who are just 16–22 and in fourth place in the National League East in a season in which they were expected to contend for a playoff spot.
Miami had announced that a new manager would be chosen by Monday, though according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the team will hire former player Jeff Conine as its next skipper—then backtracked that report. Conine, who played for the Marlins from the team's inception in 1993 to '97 and again from 2003 to '05 (winning two World Series rings in the process), had been working as a special assistant for Miami's front office and has no previous managerial experience—something which apparently was a plus in team owner Jeffrey Loria's eyes. Shortly thereafter, though, reports surfaced that Miami had not, in fact, hired Conine, with the manager's job remaining unfilled.
UPDATE: The Marlins have gone outside of the box with their replacement for Redmond, hiring general manager Dan Jennings to be the team's next manager.
Redmond and the Marlins entered the season as popular picks to be a playoff team in 2015 on the strength of a stronger-than-expected finish last year, when Miami won 77 games and challenged for the second wild-card spot into September. While the Marlins ultimately fell short of a postseason berth, the team made a splash this off-season, rebuilding the lineup on the fly and adding veteran names to its starting rotation in a bid to bolster last season's roster—Miami picked up Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Michael Morse, Mat Latos and Dan Haren over the winter via trade or free agency. But those big-ticket additions haven't panned out so far: The Marlins started the year by losing 11 of their first 14 games, and a 4–10 streak over the last two weeks—including Sunday's near no-hit bid at the hands of Shelby Miller—sealed Redmond's fate.
"There is still supreme belief and confidence in the men in that clubhouse," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said after Sunday's game. "We haven't played to our capability. And we hope that a new voice will spark and motivate our guys and get them going and performing in a way we think they are capable of performing."
Few things have gone the Marlins' way this year. While Miami was hitting .269 as a team, the fourth-highest mark in the majors, going into Sunday, that had only translated to a shade over four runs per game, notably under the MLB average of 4.26 per contest. Part of that is due to some poor work in the clutch: Marlins hitters have just a .693 OPS with runners in scoring position, a number that drops to .609 with two outs. Miami is also third to last in baseball with just 24 home runs on the season, ahead of only the White Sox and Phillies. The pitching isn't helping matters either, with the team ERA sitting at a pedestrian 4.12 before Sunday's action. That includes a 5.54 mark from Latos, who was supposed to step in as the team's ace while Jose Fernandez recovered from Tommy John surgery but has instead been one of the team's worst hurlers, posting a meager 73 ERA+ and 3.4 walks per nine.
Latos isn't the only Marlin struggling. Catcher has been a black hole all season, with Miami dismissing veteran Jarrod Saltalamacchia after a 2-for-29 start and turning to rookie J.T. Realmuto, who has managed just a .226/.260/.323 line in 101 plate appearances. Morse has only two homers and a 54 OPS+ on the year, while Prado has contributed a less-than-useful .278/.318/.361 mark so far. Offensively, however, the biggest problem has been the Marlins' young outfield. Giancarlo Stanton has flashed his usual power, with 11 home runs to date, but his walks are down and his strikeouts are up, leading to a mere .250 batting average and .329 on-base percentage. A back injury has slowed Christian Yelich, who is hitting only .178 with two extra-base hits through Sunday's games. And Marcell Ozuna, who hit 23 homers last year, has connected for just three blasts this season.
Equally problematic has been the bullpen, particularly closer Steve Cishek. After saving 39 games in 2014, Cishek has fallen apart this year, allowing 13 earned runs and eight walks in 13 1/3 innings so far. That performance has cost him his ninth-inning role, but Redmond's relief corps has been a mess aside from Cishek, with the bullpen holding a 4.23 ERA on the year, not counting Sunday's 3 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Henderson Alvarez.
How many of these issues were Redmond's fault is up for debate, but regardless of what is and isn't his fault, it's clear that his days have been numbered for a while. In April, when the Marlins were just 3–11, reports surfaced that Loria was considering a change at the helm, with rumors that he was seeking to place Mets minor league manager Wally Backman in Redmond's place. Miami, however, ripped off nine wins in its following 10 games stretch to get back to .500 and scuttle talk of Redmond's impending dismissal, but a subsequent 4–10 stretch apparently was enough to make Loria believe once again that the former catcher wasn't the right man for the job. The rumors of Conine's appointment mere hours after Redmond's dismissal, meanwhile, suggest that Loria had already made succession plans to be deployed at a moment's notice.
The firing ends Redmond's tenure after two-plus seasons as the Marlins' manager. Hired in November 2012 to replace Ozzie Guillen, Redmond's first year in Miami produced just 62 wins in '13, though that could be blamed in large part to the team's firesale in the wake of a bust '12 season. Led by Stanton and Fernandez, the Marlins jumped to 77 wins in 2014, but it seems all that season accomplished was to raise the expectations on Redmond, as Miami was championed as a dark-horse contender before the year. Those plaudits appear to have been premature, with the Marlins now six games under .500 and a longshot to get by either the division-leading Mets or the Nationals for a playoff spot in the NL East.
Redmond isn't the first manager to feel Loria's impatient wrath in the last decade. The mercurial Guillen was axed after just one season in charge, finishing with a 69–93 mark in 2012 after Miami's huge off-season spending spree—including deals for Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell—blew up in Loria's face. Guillen followed Fredi Gonzalez, who was fired in '10 after a 34–36 start to the year (and three prior seasons as manager), to be replaced by Edwin Rodriguez and, the next year, Jack McKeon. That was McKeon's second tour as replacement manager for Loria; the venerable skipper had previously stepped in for Jeff Torborg in '03, who had started the year 16–22 before getting canned. McKeon led the team to an unlikely World Series title, then was manager for the next two seasons before giving way to Joe Girardi, who won Manger of the Year honors with a 78–84 record in '06 but was nonetheless fired after just one year and replaced by Gonzalez. All told, Loria has run through nine managers since the start of '03, including McKeon twice and interim boss Brandon Hyde, who managed one game in '11.
Whether Conine (or someone else) will last long enough to earn Loria's trust for long remains to be seen. It's unlikely that anyone can fix what ails Miami, after all, there's not much a manager can do to improve poor numbers with runners in scoring position or make a bullpen more trustworthy. But it's clear that Loria was looking for a shakeup after the poor start to the year, and Redmond was the unfortunate casualty of that desire. Whoever inherits the Marlins' gig will have plenty to work with, however: Stanton, Ozuna and Yelich still form one of baseball's best outfields, while Gordon has been the game's hottest hitter to date, with a .420 batting average after Sunday's action. Fernandez, meanwhile, should return in midseason, giving Miami a much-needed rotation boost.
Either way, however, the new manager will have plenty of work to do. Sunday's loss leaves the Marlins 5 1/2 games behind New York for first place in the division, with Miami trailing the Mets, Nationals and Braves in the early going. A 16–22 mark isn't a death sentence to a contender's hopes, but the new man must right the ship quickly, unless he wants to be the next man Loria sends to the unemployment line.