Following Edwin Rodriguez' resignation on Sunday, the Florida Marlins are set to name Jack McKeon as his replacement in the interim. McKeon, 80, will be the second oldest manager in Major League Baseball history trailing only Connie Mack who managed his last game at 87 years old.
McKeon, who managed the Marlins franchise to their 2nd World Series title in 2003, will be taking over a team that is mired in a season-crippling skid. The Marlins sat two games out of first before a 2-19 stretch increased their division deficit to 12.5 games.
Buster Olney wonders if the decision to hire McKeon is a sign of desperation for Marlins owner, Jeffrey Loria. The Marlins will be moving to a new ballpark next year and they can't afford (literally and figuratively) to go into 2012 without any sort of buzz or momentum from this 2011 season. Loria hopes that McKeon can have a similar impact on this young team as he did with the young 2003 team that knocked off the New York Yankees to win the 2003 World Series.
McKeon's number one priority needs to be getting Hanley Ramirez back to playing like himself. As the shortstop and most talented hitter on the roster, Ramirez needs to be able to carry the team on occasion. With a .201 BA and 4 HR, he has often done the opposite through the season's first half.As a fan of baseball, it is hard to really know what type of impact a managerial change has on a team and how certain managers mesh with certain types of ball clubs. Because of this ignorance, I won't go into whether I think this is a good or a bad move.
However, Olney does mention one player who wonders if McKeon will be able to relate to players who are nearly 60 years younger than he is. I am buying that as a legitimate concern, but at the same time 2003 wasn't that long ago and McKeon did fine in that situation with a 20 year old Miguel Cabrera and a young pitching staff.
Whether this hiring is a success or failure, the Marlins have their work cut out for them. A playoff berth is a very long shot as they will be hard pressed to overtake the Wild Card contenders - let alone the Philadelphia Phillies. Almost as important though is the need to create some excitement to carry into their new stadium once the 2012 season kicks off.