|McKeon Right for the Marlins||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on June 29, 2011
You know I'm cursing losing my old file of baseball numbers because one of them was a good connection to Jack McKeon, who came out of retirement last week to once again take over the Florida Marlins.¬† At age 80, that makes him the second oldest man to ever manage a major league team.
McKeon is an old-school manager, making most of his reputation in the pre Sabrmetrics era, but he's always been a good baseball man, posting a .518 winning percentage despite being at the forefront of some woefully bad teams handed to him by inept general managers.
McKeon's version of the Fish was battlers.¬† They didn't kill you with the long ball, but with defense, solid pitching and fundamentals on the field.¬† That team went on a tear, going 75-49 once they started playing McKeon's brand of baseball.¬† Station to station small ball was the name of the game -- and that might be the plan now.
While it's unlikely that McKeon can turn this bunch of fish into contenders this year, he could greatly improve the game, teaching the youngsters what they'll need for the coming years as the team develops and solves some of its money issues (largely due to a new taxpayer funded stadium due to open next year).¬† He could also help this team find an identity, something that seems to be lacking to an outside observer.
He's already put his foot down and benched (for a game) the team's most noted superstar, and in just a few games seems to have helped Hanley Ramirez put his head on straight - raising his average by 18 points over McKeon's five-game managerial stint.¬† And if Hanley hits, the Marlins offense is a lot more potent.
That should help the pitching, which could be the thing which gives McKeon the most in the way of headaches, as ace Josh Johnson is still recovering from shoulder inflammation and number two starter Ricky Nolasco has been getting shelled over the past month and can't seem to right his ship (although his one good start this month was his one start for McKeon).¬† With a healthy Johnson and a fixed Nolasco, the Fish, with all pistons firing, should be a much better team than the standing show.
McKeon won't fix the injuries, but you can count on the Marlins to show better defense, better baserunning and solid fundamentals in the months to come.¬† You can also expect a lot more wins.That is something fans in Florida should take to heart.¬† The building blocks are in place, and there is no better manager to teach the basics, or who loves baseball more than Jack McKeon.