When Miami Marlins President Michael Hill introduced general manager Dan Jennings as the teams new on field manager he described Jennings as a “leader of men.” Jennings has more than 30 years of experience in professional baseball as a scout and front office executive and I do not doubt that Jennings is a “leader of men,” within his field. 30 years of mastering his craft and developing relationships has undoubtedly earned him that title.
By all accounts Dan Jennings seems like a stand up guy and I truly believe there are a large number of Marlins players and coaches that respect him as a baseball executive and as a man. Yet, the reality of the current situation is that Dan Jennings is entering a completely new field. A field in which he has zero experience. He has never managed, coached or played a single day of professional baseball so to think that Dan Jennings is going to receive and command the same amount of respect as a manager is absolutely asinine.
The bottom line is that although Jennings has been working in the same industry for over 3 decades, his previous roles do not qualify him to be a major league manager. The same way being a GM of a restaurant does not qualify you to cook the food or being a GM for an airline does not qualify you to fly the plane. Just because you are an architect that does not mean you have the ability to build the home. For me personally, I am a television baseball analyst, unfortunately that does not qualify me to run the network.
I do realize that we have seen managers recently hired with no managing or coaching experience, yet each one of them has had extensive experience playing the game professionally as well as experience within the front office, where communication between on field personal and executives has become increasingly vital.
There is a extensive process that Dan Jennings took to become a successful major league general manager the same way there is an elaborate blue print on what it takes to become a successful manager in the major leagues. Ideally, that process should include actual managing, coaching and playing experience. Baseball lifers, guys like Ron Wotus, Mike Aldete, DeMarlo Hale, Jay Bell, Brett Butler, Phil Nevin, Dave Roberts, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Wally Backman, just to name a few, have dedicated their entire lives to becoming “leaders of men” within their field with hopes of one day EARNING the opportunity to manage a major league baseball team. Other guys such as Bob Geren, Don Wakamatsu, Tony Defancesco, Carlos Tosca, Dale Sveum, John Russell, Trey Hillman and Larry Bowa continue to grind away in hopes of EARNING that shot again. This group and the entire group of aspiring managers across minor and major league baseball undoubtedly just took one big kick in the nuts. I am interested to see how and if they fight back.
I believe I am very forward thinking when it comes to the world of modern day baseball analytics and the direction our game needs to go to remain relevant within the overall landscape of the sports world. Forgive me if I am old school when it comes to wanting to keep suits and ties out of the dugout… EB