For Marlins, does 'out of the box' mean creative or doomed?

On Sunday, Dan Jennings was the Marlins' general manager; on Monday, he was introduced as their new manager

Dan Jennings already has two strikes against him, and we're not even counting the fact that he works for Jeffrey Loria.

On Sunday, Jennings was the Marlins' general manager. On Monday, as the Marlins introduced him as their new manager, Jennings acknowledged there was "an element of surprise" to the "out-of-the-box" choice and said he had taken "a different avenue to arrive in the dugout."

Said Jennings: "Even my mom, whom I love, asked me, 'Are you crazy?' "

Mother knows best. 

This might be unfair but it is true: Managers who did not play in the major leagues do not command as much respect as managers who did. That is strike one for Jennings. Strike two: As the general manager on Sunday — and as a guy who might return to the position after the season — some players undoubtedly will see Jennings as a clubhouse mole for the front office.

But the clubhouse perceptions might not be the biggest challenge for Jennings. What was most striking about his news conference was that he admitted he had absolutely no desire to be a major league manager.

In his 39 years in professional baseball, he said, there never had been a night when he went to sleep and thought about how he aspired to manage a major league club. He never has managed a minor league club, either.

Jennings is a universally respected baseball man, and more power to the Marlins if they believe a leader and motivator is all they need to win. And Jennings was smart enough to tell his bosses he would not take the job if he would not get his hand-picked, experienced bench coach.

But a manager's job is all-consuming, not so much with game strategy but with controlling 25 egos and holding twice-daily news conferences amid inevitable criticism. Even the people who burn for those jobs do not always do well.

In 1994, Angels General Manager Bill Bavasi was convinced that longtime pitching coach Marcel Lachemann would be perfect as the Angels' manager — an accountable, personable, hard-working and universally respected baseball man. Lachemann never wanted to be a manager, and Bavasi had to talk him into taking the job. Two years later, he was gone, and Bavasi and Lachemann each admitted he had made a mistake.

David Samson, the Marlins' president, said the idea of making Jennings the manager came out of his conversations with Michael Hill, the president of baseball operations, and then with Jennings.

"We had this epiphany and brought it to Jeffrey," Samson said.

That would be Loria, the owner. And, really, he is the reason why no one should get too worked up over the Marlins hiring a guy with no managerial experience. 

On June 23, 2010, with Giancarlo Stanton two weeks into his major league career, Loria fired Manager Fredi Gonzalez

Stanton never has played for a team with a winning record, but the Marlins' franchise player is about to play for his seventh manager in six years. The eighth will come along shortly.


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