Greg Cote

Greg Cote: Miami Marlins are truly testing owner’s patience — to see if he has any

Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria speaks with reporters before the Marlins met the Atlanta Braves in their baseball game in Miami, Tuesday, April 7, 2015.
Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria speaks with reporters before the Marlins met the Atlanta Braves in their baseball game in Miami, Tuesday, April 7, 2015. AP

Jeffrey Loria said something interesting when last we spoke just before the season started, and I find it more interesting now than I did then.

“Patience has never been my best virtue,” he volunteered.

The good news: He sees patience as a virtue, at least. As something to strive for.

Well, supposedly.

We’re about to find out.

He has had a lot of them in his time as Marlins owner, and many of those decisions have shaped the largely negative reputation that remains his burden.

This choice is clear.

It should also be simple.

The Marlins were a thoroughly disappointing 3-11 and losers of five games in a row entering Wednesday night’s game in Philadelphia. That’s bad. But that’s also 8.6 percent of a 162-game season.

Would an NFL team fire its coach just before halftime of the second game of the season? That would be the football equivalent of where the Marlins are now. You don’t change managers less than three weeks into a six-month baseball season.

Redmond’s Marlins improved by 15 games last season over the year before, a perceived overachievement that saw him fifth in National League manager of the year voting and earned him a contract extension.

He has earned at least the leeway of more time — in fairness a lot more time — to extricate his team from what is a tough early hole but not an inescapable crater.

He also has earned the vote of confidence he didn’t get this week from Loria.

In fairness, the owner had the opportunity to publicly turn up the heat under Redmond’s chair and did not, at least not all the way. But neither did he endorse his manager by calling the speculation about his shaky job status off base or at least premature.

“I’m not interested in palace intrigue,” the franchise’s monarch told reporters Tuesday in Philadelphia. “We’ve got to win games, period.”

Loria, who declined an interview request for this column, must decipher the cause of his team’s poor start and figure how much of that is Redmond’s fault.

The Marlins have stumbled because Dee Gordon has been the only new addition worth bragging about. Because Miami is batting .243 as a team, with the third-fewest home runs in the majors and third-most strikeouts. Because Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna are off to slow starts, Michael Morse and Martin Prado have been nothing special, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia is performing like a guy trying to play his way out of a career.

The Marlins have stumbled because the team earned run average of 5.28 is second-worst in baseball, the strikeout-to-walk ratio is third-worst, Mat Latos has been awful so far, and Jose Fernandez won’t be ready to pitch until July.

“We’ve done a magnificent job putting together the team,” Loria said a few weeks ago.

But that assumed the pitching staff — starters and bullpen — would be good enough. That assumed Morse and Prado would be upgrades at the infield corners. So far only Gordon among the added players gets a clear passing grade as an improvement, and that’s on roster architects Mike Hill and Dan Jennings — not on the manager.

Loria said he had “great expectations” for this season. Maybe they were too great. Maybe this team was oversold. Or maybe it’s just still too soon to really know.

This isn’t to exonerate Redmond completely. A frustrated Giancarlo Stanton said the other day the team lacked “fire.” Some of that is on the manager. Not most of it, though. Most of that must start in the clubhouse and emanate from team leaders such as Stanton.

By the way, the speculation is that Loria, surreptitiously investigating a possible managerial change, has Mets Triple A manager Wally Backman on his radar. Hmm. Backman, 55, is a career-long minor-league manager with a past that includes a DUI arrest, bankruptcy to avoid creditors and a restraining order filed against him by a former wife.

Sounds like just one more reason to have a little patience with Redmond and this season.

Franchises and owners drifting without a working compass or rudder might fire their manager right now.

Franchises and owners with a little faith in their own direction would not.

Loria talked about his lack of patience as if admitting it has been a fault of his.

Let’s find out if it continues to be.

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