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Chris Baysore's Article on McKeon Hiring

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Marlins Coaching Change: Torborg Out, McKeon In
May 13, 2003

By: Christopher Baysore a.k.a Hotcorner
Christopher's Columnist Page

The Florida Marlins fired Jeff Torborg late after Saturday's loss to the Colorado Rockies. The first coach fired of the 2003 season, Torborg led the Marlins to a 16-22 record. Two weeks ago they were a game over the .500 plateau, but disaster struck as starting pitchers AJ Burnett, Mark Redman, and Josh Beckett all were lost to injuries. With a patchwork rotation and a suddenly impotent offense, the team dropped 7 of 8 games including 6 straight, and fell 9 behind the division leading Braves. Unwilling to let the season slip away without doing something, owner Jeffrey Loria decided a move had to be made. Jack McKeon reportedly had been spoken to as early as Wednesday, and now takes over as skipper of a team struggling to score runs and dealing with a frail pitching staff.

At 72 years old, McKeon has a winning record (770-733) with experience coaching four major league teams: K.C., Oakland, San Diego, and most recently Cincinnati. That Reds team in 1999 was an overachieving bunch that won 96 games, and it's likely what caught Loria's eye. Reportedly the front office contacted the Reds for a critique of McKeon, and they heaped praise on him. "Trader Jack," as he's known from his days as a GM with the Padres, is an old-timer for sure, and it's questionable whether he brings a different style of coaching to the team. Many fans hoped for a young fresh face. But McKeon has shown results in the past, and if he can get the team back to a winning record, he'll get plenty of credit.

As for Torborg, Loria's old friend felt the heat from the pitching injuries recently as baseball writers and ESPN blasted him for overworking the arms. He was pressured by management to replace pitching coach Brad Arnsberg before the season. Torborg talked them out of it, but it was clear a move would be made eventually; he just didn't expect to be included in it. He was emotional as he spoke to reporters after the news. "I think it's more bottom-line production. We haven't won enough games. ... But I was so proud of the way these kids play. They play with such enthusiasm. Knowing we had been struggling of late, that's disappointing. But I had to thank Jeffrey Loria. He gave me a chance to get back on the field, and I appreciate the opportunity.'' Torborg's face will be missed around the stadium. The congenial gentleman always had a smile ready, and his focus on the field helped to distract attention from concerns about attendance, a new stadium, a small payroll, even contraction. There was plenty of second-guessing his decisions, as is the case with most coaches, but he always accepted responsibility and his love for his players was evident.

Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg was also released, and was less civil upon getting the news. Loria and Arnsberg met with him at his home and there were heated exchanges between the men. "He was abusive and clearly unprofessional,'' Beinfest said. "I would say he was bordering on violent.'' Arnsberg denies ever making a threatening move or gesture. "All I'll say is when one is so vindictive, they'll finally get their way,'' Arnsberg said.

In any event, Arnsberg and Torborg will have to share the blame for a team that probably wasn't playoff caliber anyway, despite president David Sampson's claim of 91 wins. Bottom payroll teams that win 90 games are the rare exception, not something you bet on. Virtually everything has to go right, and thus far it's safe to say that things are not going right for the Marlins.

Still?the season is young, two starting pitchers should return near the end of the month, and sometimes a coaching shakeup can do wonders for a struggling team. The Marlins don't necessarily need to make the playoffs this year, what they need to do is be competitive. What Marlins fans ache for is to be a contender again, to play meaningful games at the end of the year. The community is quick to abandon a loser. To me, McKeon needs to get the Marlins on the plus side of .500. Anything after that is a bonus.

So welcome to the Marlins Trader Jack. Oh and here's a 12 game road trip to get you started. Good luck!
 

AJBurnett34

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Nice Article Chris! I hope McKeon can lead us to the playoffs or at least above .500 which we have struggled to be at. I think he should be given some time as our manager because he is a great influence to the players and we have won 2 straight with Jack as our manager.
 

Rune

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I think he should be given some time as our manager because he is a great influence to the players and we have won 2 straight with Jack as our manager.
WARNING WARNING CONTRADICTION!

AJ even after he was hired you posted I hope he can do well till we get a new manager.

Nice article Hot Corner
 

AJBurnett34

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WARNING WARNING CONTRADICTION!

AJ even after he was hired you posted I hope he can do well till we get a new manager.

Nice article Hot Corner
because i thought he was going to be just an interm manager but he isnt and Beinfest likes him alot , so he is gonna be managing for wuite a while
 

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