Jack McKeon will replace former Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez at the helm of this team, which is now in disarray following their 17th loss in 18 tries. The embattled former Marlins manager did not wait for the inevitable pressure from owner Jeffrey Loria and left on his own terms rather than face a possible firing.
What does this all mean for the Marlins? Likely absolutely nothing. I understand that the soft-spoken Rodriguez will likely have a different demeanor than the more old-school McKeon, but the honest truth is that McKeon could not possibly have the so-called “effect” that he had in 2003. Remember, a 75-year old version of McKeon took over for Jeff Torborg when the Marlins were previously 16-22 and proceeded to lead them to a 75-49 record. That sort of drastic turnaround just is not likely to happen. A multitude of factors that occurred in 2003 just will not happen again in 2011. The Marlins will not bring up a starter the caliber of Dontrelle Willis up to replace failing veterans like Javier Vazquez. In 2003, the Marlins had a phenom hitter in the minors in Miguel Cabrera, who was ready to be brought up to the big leagues after a .365/.429/.609 slash line in 303 Double-A plate appearances. That would be the equivalent of bringing up a Mike Stanton-caliber player to the big leagues. All the Marlins have in the minors is Matt Dominguez, who is nowhere near the quality hitter that Stanton is.
The truth is that McKeon likely did not have the effect for which he was credited when he took over the team in 2003, and it is not likely that he can turn a team that is perhaps slightly better than .500 into a contender after digging itself into a 32-40 hole. Sure, the Marlins are better than they have shown the last few weeks. Hanley Ramirez is better than his current line. Omar Infante is better than his current line. More than a few players are playing above their heads. If the Marlins can get some semblance of strong play from Ramirez, a lot of their offensive problems will be solved with or without regression from the other players. Either way, there is likely little a coaching change can do. After all, these are professional ballplayers who are paid to hit and throw baseballs; if there is a problem mechanically with their play, half a season’s worth of observation should have been enough time to fix any issues. Do not expect a miracle like the one we wtinessed in 2003 with Trader Jack at the helm again.