The walls are closing in on Ozzie Guillen in Miami.
A major league manager who has ticked off his owner and doesn't have the respect of his players wouldn't seem to have to have much job security.
In light of a terribly disappointing season that was supposed to begin a new era of Marlins baseball, owner Jeffrey Loria reportedly wanted to clean house. Bob Nightengale and USA Today reported last week that general manager Larry Beinfest was as good as gone. Guillen's job status was reportedly in jeopardy as well.
Except now, Beinfest is supposedly sticking around. The Palm Beach Post's Joe Capozzi reports that the "general feeling" around the team now is that Beinfest will keep his job, while Guillen is on the hot seat. Perhaps Beinfest—who has been the Marlins GM for 10 years—convinced Loria that he wasn't the problem and Guillen was.
Loria might be willing to listen, especially since Guillen angered him with some recent remarks to the press, according to Capozzi's report.
“If Jeffrey doesn’t think I’m doing the job I should do … it’s not the first time he’s fired a manager,” Guillen told reporters on Friday. “Look yourself in the mirror and ask why so many (bleeping) managers come through here.”
Guillen isn't the only one who's pointed out Loria's penchant for firing managers in recent days. After hearing that Guillen might be fired, former Marlins skipper Fredi Gonzalez noted that no manager appears to be good enough for Loria.
"Stick with someone," Gonzalez said to the Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. "Give guys opportunities. But he likes to make changes. As long as he owns the team, he makes the decisions. In his mind, they're the right ones."
Guillen is the fifth manager the Marlins have had since 2006, when Loria fired Joe Girardi after a season in which he was named National League Manager of the Year.
If Guillen had the support of his players, Loria might be less inclined for change. But judging from comments reliever Heath Bell recently made, the Marlins clubhouse isn't behind its manager.
"It's been an interesting year with Ozzie," Bell said on "The Dan Sileo Show" on 560 WQAM in Miami, when asked if he preferred playing for a more level-headed manager, rather than one who gets too high or too low.
Sileo went on to bait Bell with a statement about Guillen saying one thing to his players then telling the media something else and that drew a response.
"It's hard to respect a guy that doesn't tell you the truth or doesn't tell you face-to-face," Bell said. "There's probably reasons why."
"I stunk in April, plain and simple," Bell continued. "I said I stunk, I worked hard, I busted my butt. I think I've had a tremendous second half. I'm not closing—I know that. But I just kept my mouth shut because I want to regain what I had, and I feel like I can't do that."
Bell has pitched better in the second half of the season, compiling a 3.12 ERA in 29 appearances. In September, he's allowed one earned run in 10 appearances.
The conclusion to draw from Bell's comments is that Guillen told him he would regain his job as the Marlins closer if he pitched better.
Yet even after improving his performance, Steve Cishek is getting the call in the ninth inning. Not only is that clearly upsetting Bell, but it must also irritate the ownership that signed Bell to a three-year, $27 million contract before the season.
Sileo tried to further goad Bell into criticizing Marlins ownership for refusing to pitch him so that he doesn't meet certain incentives in his contract. However, Bell smartly declined to respond.
Is Guillen not pitching Bell on an edict from management? Is that another reason why Bell is angry—because he thinks ownership is ultimately behind his current situation and Guillen should be more up front about it?
Regardless, if Bell felt comfortable enough to say "it's hard to respect a guy" in reference to Guillen, he's probably echoing the general sentiment of the Marlins clubhouse. If he criticized the manager publicly while the rest of the team was on the skipper's side, that would make Bell a pariah in the locker room.
No risk of that, apparently—unless Bell just wants to get traded and figured he might as well alienate his manager, teammates and possibly ownership in the process.
Support for Guillen appears to be eroding from both sides. Loria was already mulling over firing him, yet Guillen angered him with recent remarks. Even if Loria is irrational, that's not a good idea.
But players going public with their gripes shows that Guillen has lost his clubhouse. And that is big trouble for a manager.
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