After the firing of much-maligned manager Ozzie Guillen, the Miami Marlins embarked on a brief search for a new skipper. Apparently, the team has found their man, looking to former Marlin Mike Redmond to be the team's new manager. Redmond, who played for the Marlins from 1998-2004, has a history as a backup catcher, something that appears to be a precursor to a managing career. But Redmond is also recently-removed from his playing days, having last appeared in a major league game for the Cleveland Indians in 2010. He doesn't exactly have a wealth of coaching experience.
But last season, two managers who'd never run a team at any pro level -- Robin Ventura of the White Sox and Mike Matheny of the Cardinals -- led their teams to a reasonable amount of success despite a similar lack of experience. Both managers have deep ties to their franchises through a history of performance as players, and both were counted on to replace high-profile departing managers (in Ozzie Guillen and Tony LaRussa). Redmond at least has some experience coaching in the minors for Toronto, and comes with some name recognition among the Marlins faithful. He's no Jeff Conine, but fans of the team may fondly remember his penchant for naked batting practice.
Mike Redmond brings a few positives to this franchise (no history of losing, ties to the 2003 World Series win, newness / freshness), but most importantly, brings precious few negatives. By all accounts, he's a pretty even-tempered guy with no baggage coming with him. With all of this in mind, we probably shouldn't expect Redmond to be a Buck Showalter / Mike Scioscia who will immediately "turn around" the franchise, but rather a steward with the potential to be a good manager. The expectations are low.
Beyond that, the hiring of Redmond says something good about a Marlins franchise who looked for the big news story in the 2012 off-season: they're not looking to win the news cycle with this hire. While the 2012's big signings (and discussions with Messrs. Pujols et al.) made for big news to move into the big new stadium, this is the kind of reserved, low-key hire that sets a more measured tone for the team going forward. Let's face it: the Marlins aren't going to be world-beaters in 2013, and hiring a manager for a big contract would have been a mis-spent opportunity. The team's resources need to go into building the talent base, into player development and talent acquisition. While a manager can help in those areas, skipper shouldn't be a focus. It should be a well-considered third priority.
Basically, hiring Mike Redmond is a no-lose proposition for the Marlins. It's unlikely that Redmond will make any of the same media blunders that Ozzie did in 2012, simply because no one screws up as much in that regards as Ozzie. And when it comes to managerial tactics, the truth of the matter is that managers can hurt or help their teams, but it's not going to make an extreme on-field difference either as a positive or negative. An extra 2% here and there might help the Marlins, go from 69 wins to, say 71-72, but it won't make them a playoff team overnight.
Redmond's three-year contract, assuming that it's at a reasonable value, is a reasonable plan. Hopefully, the Marlins won't see fit to fire the new manager before that contract expires. A three-year stint at the helm would be a welcomed sense of continuity for a team that has seemed to be in flux each year. If the Marlins continue to grow and develop, then after 2015 it will be the right time to see if a new, higher-profile manager would be worth the investment. Or perhaps, the best possible scenario will present itself: Redmond will emerge as a top-flight manager in his own right, and a raise and extension will be the order of the day. But the Marlins made a smart move, going with very minimal down-side risk in their new manager.