Marlins' Front Office Shortcomings Extend Beyond Beinfest

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

[Note: Inspired by Deadspin, Strip Club With Stanton has initiated a Marlins blogger roundtable. Our first topic is an assessment of Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, who suddenly finds himself on the hot seat. SCWS' first entry can be read here, Michael Jong of Fish Stripes responds here.]

From: Dave
To: Ted, SCWS, Michael Jong


Like you guys, I have been wondering whether the assumption that Larry Beinfest should be fired is a fair one. I think we don't need to rehash what you two have written thus far regarding his less-than-stellar draft record or his iffy-at-best trade and free agent history. While he has pulled off some remarkable steals (Dontrelle Willis et al for Antonio Alfonseca et al, Ricky Nolasco et al for Juan Pierre) and found some amazing value in the draft (it is still hard to believe that Giancarlo Stanton was a late second round pick), those hits are accompanied by very many misses.

But what interests me most at this time is who would replace Beinfest. Last week's report that Jeffrey Loria would promote VP of player personnel Dan Jennings is troubling. It is easy to blame Beinfest for the Marlins' recent string of bad personnel decisions, but he is far from the only culprit. After the first 2-3 rounds of the draft, senior front office officials are largely absent from the war room; it is the mid-level execs and scouts who search for value after the early rounds. And Beinfest certainly is not in charge of assembling scouting reports on free agents and trade targets.

The fact is, the Marlins seem to have issues throughout its personnel and scouting departments. Even when discounting for bad luck, Beinfest seems to be relying on the opinions of scouts who thought John Buck and Heath Bell were worth signing. Any new guy who replaces Beinfest will still have to rely on these scouts to make crucial decisions, since the nature of the business demands lots of delegation in the personnel department.

Making an internal hire only exacerbates the problem, as it signals to the rest of the front office that their inputs were not the problem, it was the guy at the top who mis-interpreted (or misused) them. An external hire cannot immediately address the organizational problems, but someone from outside the Marlins organization will be much more likely to initiate a shake-up of the staff and look to bring in better talent evaluators from other clubs.

Firing Beinfest and promoting Dan Jennings (or Michael Hill for that matter) is the kind of cosmetic fix that the Marlins were guilty of making this offseason when they signed "proven closer" Heath Bell. It will draw praise from sportswriters and ESPN personalities, but could seriously jeopardize the team in the long run.


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