The Miami Marlins' celebrity manager was a bust, so they're calling one up from the minors.
Mike Redmond, who spent the past two years managing Class A teams in the Toronto Blue Jays' system, was hired Thursday by the Marlins to replace Ozzie Guillen.
A former major league catcher, Redmond had not interviewed for a big league job until he met with the Marlins last week. Redmond signed a three-year deal and will be introduced as their fifth manager since early 2010 at a news conference at their ballpark Friday.
In the spring, Redmond told CBCSports.ca baseball contributor Alexis Brudnicki about a conversation he had with Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
"He said if you want to manage, have a chance to manage in the big leagues, you’ve got to go and you’ve got to learn and I took that to heart and here I am," said Redmond. "You know what? I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot from these guys, I’ve learned a lot about many different things. You learn how to treat players."
Earlier this season, pitcher Drew Hutchison became Redmond's first big leaguer when he debuted tor Toronto after starting the 2011 campaign with the Class-A Lansing Lugnuts, then managed by Redmond.
Hutchison made 11 starts before spraining his right elbow in mid-June, an injury that required elbow ligament replacement (Tommy John) surgery in August.
"I started off kind of slow last year [in Lansing]. He [Redmond] called me in the office and he said, 'Alright, let’s start over. Let’s just go out there and you be yourself,’ and things started to click," Hutchison said early in the 2012 season. "Everything went right and now I’m here [in the big leagues].
"He was awesome to play for last year in Lansing. He’s going to be a great [major league] manager."
Guillen was fired last week after only one season with the Marlins. A year ago they traded two minor league players to obtain him from the Chicago White Sox and gave him a team-record $10 million US, four-year deal.
Guillen said he would be rooting for Redmond.
"Congrats Mike Redmond," Guillen tweeted. "Good luck buddy u have great guys going to play for you. ... Hope the best for you. u are a good baseball man and you will have fun with the players."
Redmond, 41, brings a much lower profile. A .287 hitter over 13 seasons, he played seven years for the Marlins and helped them win the World Series in 2003.
"I think it's a great hire," said Jack McKeon, who managed Redmond with the Marlins. "I'm just delighted. He's a very knowledgeable young man. He was an unselfish player and dedicated. I was very impressed when I had him the years I was in Florida. I thought someday he would make a good manager."
Redmond was popular with teammates because of his droll wit, and they still fondly recall him taking batting practice naked in an indoor cage several days in a row to help the 2003 team snap a slump.
Because of Redmond's ties to Miami owner Jeffrey Loria and president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, he was considered the front-runner for the job. Also interviewed were former major league manager Larry Bowa, former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon and Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Bryan Price.
Interest in managing
Even during Redmond's playing days, he expressed an interest in managing. He played for Jim Leyland, Jack McKeon and Ron Gardenhire, among others.
"People ask you, 'What's your style?"' Redmond said last week. "I learned a lot from all of my managers. … There are so many guys I learned different things from. I sat and listened and watched and learned."
The rebranded Marlins moved into a new ballpark this year with a heftier payroll and high hopes, but the promising season began to derail in the first week with Guillen's laudatory comments about former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Six months later, the episode was a factor in the decision to fire Guillen.
A lousy record and disappointing attendance didn't help, either. Despite a free-agent spending spree a year ago, the Marlins finished last in the National League East at 69-93, their worst record since 1999. The Marlins drew more than 2.2 million fans but had projected attendance of nearly 3 million.
Under Loria, the Marlins have usually been among baseball's thriftiest teams. With revenue falling short of projections this year, the spending binge of last off-season is unlikely to be repeated. The Marlins still owe Guillen $7.5 million for the three years remaining on his contract.
Spending constraints will make it difficult to upgrade a team that batted .244, the worst average in franchise history. The Marlins scored the fewest runs per game since their first year in 1993.
In the Marlins' 20 seasons they have reached the post-season only twice, as wild-card teams in 1997 and 2003. Both times they won the World Series.With files from CBCSports.ca