The Managing the Marlins Debate Verdict

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

The back and forth soap opera relationship between the Florida Marlins and Bobby Valentine has resulted in the single most awkward dance to take place in view of the public since Babe Ruthless at his high school prom.

Despite the appearance that BOTH parties were eager to work a deal, Bobby Valentine remains unemployed in baseball, while the Marlins have now TWICE looked elsewhere for a new manager. It is enough to make even the deepest of romantics question the existence of “true love.”

If these two can’t make it work, when they appear DESTINED to be together, then who can?

And as far as Bobby Valentine is concerned, should he just give up hope and look for one of those other proverbial “fish in the sea,” or should he continue to pursue his elusive white whale (err… Marlin)?

Babe Ruthless writes that he should, and I agree.

Nearly every franchise that is in the hunt for a new manager will have its share of issues. With the exception of a retiring legend, managing vacancies usually don’t pop up for good reasons.

In his winning argument, Babe Ruthless does a very good job of highlighting the benefits that the Marlins have to offer. They are a team that has proven successful over a very brief history, they will be moving into a new stadium in the very near future, and they are loaded with talent. There is clearly enough of a foundation there to make you believe that they COULD be competitive if the right pieces fell into place.

Unlike the Baltimore Orioles or Pittsburgh Pirates, for example, whose clubs appear so beyond hope that even an intervening hand from the Almighty could not salvage the wreckage, the Marlins offer the possibility of success on the immediate horizon.

As for reasons why Valentine should NOT remain interested in the Florida job, Loyal Homer offers up an unsupportive fan base and an owner with questionable decision-making ability.

The “unsupportive fan base” argument is debatable because nobody wants to see a loser. Last season was the first time since the Marlins won the World Series in 2003 that the team finished better than third in the NL East. Following that up with a 37-41 record to start the 2010 season is nothing to write home about. Should the Marlins’ performance improve it is safe to assume that attendance numbers would do the same.

As for questionable decision making from ownership, Loyal Homer points first to the firing of Joe Girardi, and then to Loria’s payroll.

Shortly after Girardi was axed he was awarded the NL Manager of the Year Award, and Loyal Homer offers that as proof that the Marlins’ owner lacks baseball IQ… and that “questionable baseball judgment” would make it too difficult for Valentine to build a consistent winner.

There are a few things that should be noted about Girardi’s brief tenure with the Marlins.

First, the Marlins never once held a lead in standings in the NL East. The team DID, however, finish the season in fourth place in the NL East, a full 19 games out of first.

Second, the Marlins were never more than two games above .500 all season long. They WERE, however, as far as 20 games BELOW .500 at one time.

In a division where the opponents are the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, and Atlanta Braves, finishing that far out of first place is HARDLY competitive, and it is even less acceptable.

As far as the payroll argument is concerned, Loria’s Spring Training statement that the Marlins would make the playoffs (despite a payroll of only $56M) does not show poor judgment or poor baseball IQ, it shows faith in the talent on your roster. The Marlins have been to the promised land on a budget before, and there is no reason that they should not be able to do so again (especially when you consider the players they have on their roster).

Likewise, his decision to fire Fredi Gonzalez for his performance to this point in the season shows frustration BECAUSE of the expectation that his team would compete for the playoffs.

That is not poor baseball IQ, that is being a good, active owner.

Yes, the Florida Marlins’ situation is not ideal, but what team that just fired their manager ever DOES present an ideal situation?

The Marlins entered the 2010 season with lofty expectations, and those expectations were completely justified. This is not a team on the brink of self-destruction, but one that has veered off the course they appeared to be headed down. The chance for success in Florida is very real, and the prospect of managing the Marlins is one that Bobby Valentine should continue to pursue.

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