It’s being called everything from a circus to a soap opera. Whatever the comparison that best describes the Marlins these days, Shangri-La it most certainly is not.
Just within the past two, tumultuous weeks:
▪ The manager was fired and replaced with a front-office man.
▪ The third-base coach was yanked from his duties.
▪ The team’s players came under fire for skipping out on a charity event.
▪ Three pitchers in the starting rotation landed on the disabled list.
▪ Losses have mounted.
Oh, how they have mounted.
A team that many felt could contend for a wild-card playoff spot has instead fallen to the bottom of the standings with the third-worst record in the majors.
And the players aren’t happy with any of it.
“I don’t think anyone saw us playing this bad, or the changes that we’ve had,” veteran backup infielder Jeff Baker said. “I don’t think anyone envisioned that coming out of spring.”
Said veteran starting pitcher Dan Haren: “It’s been a really tough 10 days or so, that’s for sure.”
There is an undercurrent of frustration, anger and bewilderment teeming inside the clubhouse, much of it stemming from a poor month on the field in which the Marlins descended into the basement of the National League East by losing 18 of their past 24 games.
But some players and agents, who would only speak off the record, said there’s more to it than that. Not only were they caught by surprise when manager Mike Redmond was fired only 38 games into the season, but they were taken aback by the decision to replace him with a front-office executive — Dan Jennings — with no managing or coaching experience.
Jennings had not spent any time in a major-league dugout in any capacity — not even as a batboy — and it has rankled players.
“All 25 of them,” said the agent of one player.
No player would go on record expressing dissatisfaction, or frustration, with any of the recent run of events.
Giancarlo Stanton wouldn’t touch the question.
“Doesn’t matter,” Stanton responded when asked if he was frustrated. “You’re not going to get no controversial stuff from me, so don’t try it. Any type of question like that, the answer is going to be everywhere. I’ve already been through that before.”
Privately, though, players aren’t pleased.
“C’mon, show us some stability you preach,” one said in reference to an oft-repeated pledge before the season that the team was entering a new era of stability after years of erratic performance, both on and off the field.
The Marlins have gone 2-8 since Jennings took over, hardly the turnaround Jeffrey Loria was hoping for when he changed managers, the eighth in his 14 years owning the team.
Not even the fancier new plane the Marlins were promised has been delivered.
As a result, they’ve had to put up with cramped planes and long delays because of one issue or another.
“It gets frustrating when you aren’t piling up the wins,” Baker said. “And then it gets frustrating when you have a lot of dynamics that we have to mentally persevere through, battle through.”
Baker said players need to forget about all the other stuff and focus on the game.
He has played on other teams that have undergone midseason managerial changes and understands it’s part of the business.
“Those teams, we understood it doesn’t matter if you go get Earl Weaver or whoever,” Baker said.
“If the players don’t perform, they can’t fire all 25 guys on the team. They’re going to replace the manager.”
Baker said there’s always a breaking-in period with a new manager and for players to become used to playing for the new one.
“I think there was a little bit of a hangover, but I think we’re past that now,” Baker said. “I’d say it’s an adjustment, just like anything. You deal with the changes and adjust to it. We need to do a better job of adjusting and figure out a way to win with what we have and turn this around.”