Manager led Miami to 15-win improvement in 2014, his second season at the helm
By Mike Bauman
MIAMI -- It is difficult to imagine the Miami Marlins firing Mike Redmond as their manager. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to imagine that this topic is even being discussed.
There have been reports to the contrary, however. Put those together with the propensity of the Marlins' ownership to cut its losses in a serious hurry, and you can just barely see why this potential dismissal could be a topic under consideration. But it still doesn't make any sense.
It was the blink of an eye ago that Redmond was being praised for the work he had done with the young Marlins. He was doing exactly what he was supposed to do, which was to develop young talent.
The Marlins, learning and losing on the job, won only 62 games in 2013. But they improved by 15 games in 2014, and could have improved by even more if they had not lost superstar-in-the-making Giancarlo Stanton with three weeks left in the season.
With an offseason influx of talent, expectations are considerably higher in 2015, and justifiably so. Managers have been fired earlier than even this in past seasons, but with only 10 percent of the season in the books, almost everything that happens shouts "small sample size" at unbiased observers of the game.
Through 16 games, Miami was a surprisingly ineffective 14th in the league in team ERA, leading only the 3-13 Milwaukee Brewers in that category.
This is not the sort of thing for which Redmond, or any manager, can fairly be blamed. It was not Redmond's fault that Mat Latos, one of the prized offseason acquisitions, had an ERA of 10.24 through his first three starts.
This is one problem that may have fixed itself. Friday night at Marlins Park, Latos did his best work of the season. He gave up two earned runs over 6 1/3, and the Marlins won, 3-2, for their third straight victory.
Martin Prado was a focal point of this victory. A valuable veteran acquisition, Prado delivered the game-winning hit in the eighth inning on Friday, and then made a diving stop going to his left at third to turn the potential tying run into the first out of the ninth inning.
"We're playing better baseball, and that's the way everybody was expecting this team to play," Prado said. "The way everybody is hustling and how they take care of business is just amazing."
Doesn't sound much like a team in desperate need of a managerial change, does it? When Prado was asked about the team's improved play in light of its earlier struggles, he politely objected to the term "struggles."
"I don't see it as a 'struggle,' I see it as a learning process," Prado said. "There are people who are actually struggling. But this, it's a learning process where everybody now has to understand their role. 'OK, this is my role, this is what I have to do.' That's the way I see it. Everybody is doing their part. We're playing better baseball, that's all that matters."
Beyond acclimating themselves to what is, in some significant ways, a different team, the Marlins can get healthier. Miami is missing two starting pitchers. The Fish expect to get their ace of aces, Jose Fernandez, back from Tommy John surgery in midseason. Henderson Alvarez, on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, is expected back in May.
The really good news regarding Fernandez came off the field on Friday. He officially became an American citizen.
"It really makes me appreciate every day in this country," said Fernandez, who defected from Cuba. "It's an honor. Every day I wake up and go outside and I appreciate every part of it. I appreciate being free."
Left fielder Christian Yelich is also on the DL with a lower back strain, but left field has not been the problem.
The injury to Yelich has created an everyday opening for Ichiro Suzuki. Looking at one of the best outfields in the game with Stanton in right and Marcell Ozuna in center, it had earlier seemed unlikely that there would be much playing time for Ichiro.
"I was thinking today about all the time I wasted during Spring Training explaining how I was going to get Ichiro in the games," Redmond said with a smile. "And he's played every game. I'll never get that time back."
So the manager has retained his sense of humor. This is always a very positive sign. It is particularly so for Redmond, who prides himself on bringing the same demeanor to the job every day, whether his team is succeeding or struggling.
It's been a disappointing start for the Marlins, but that's the thing. It's just the start. The corner may have already been turned, but one way or another, this is no time or place for changing managers. Even contemplating that action feels like a mistake.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.