Beinfest, others extended, promoted
Marlins' Loria preserves team's future by wrapping up execs
NEW YORK -- Showing a commitment to continuity in the front office, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria on Saturday said the organization has extended the contracts of four top executives through the 2015 season.
Along with receiving another eight years of commitments, the executives will be sporting new titles, although the chain of command will remain essentially the same.
Effectively immediately, Larry Beinfest is now team president, baseball operations. Michael Hill is now the vice president, general manager. Dan Jennings assumes the title of vice president, player personnel and assistant general manager. And Jim Fleming is the vice president, player development and scouting and assistant general manager.
"It shows the confidence I have in wanting to keep this organization together," Loria said. "They're spectacular executives, and we've had great success with them. I want to continue it."
With the regular season ending Sunday, teams across the league will be making changes. By promoting several key front office people, the Marlins essentially remove them as candidates for jobs elsewhere.
Recently, the Pirates and Astros filled general manager spots. Hill and Jennings attracted interest in those respective searches. Hill had been the assistant general manager, while Jennings was the VP of player personnel.
"I think loyalty runs both ways," said Beinfest, who formerly had the title of executive vice president and general manager. "The guys that we have really enjoy working for Jeffrey. He's very supportive. He's very involved. He's everything you want in an owner. To show that kind of confidence in us as a group, it means a lot."
Loria has owned the Marlins since 2002, and a year later the franchise celebrated its second World Series title.
"This is where we wanted to be," Beinfest said. "We're all going to work together in the same manner. There is a lot of respect for all of those guys."
In moving forward to 2008, the organization has its challenges. The payroll was roughly $28 million this season, with Miguel Cabrera ($7.4 million) and Dontrelle Willis ($6.45 million) as the highest paid players.
To keep them both next year would cost about $19 million.
Loria had no comment on which direction the organization is leaning in terms to both star players. Each are eligible for free agency after the 2009 season.
There are indications from league sources that of the two, Willis is the most likely not to be brought back next season. There also is a feeling Cabrera will at least be shopped to see what kind of value the club would get in return. Yet sources have said the team is on the fence as to which way it is leaning with Cabrera.
Loria noted the root of the team's struggles is grounded in starting pitching. Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco all missed substantial portions of the year with injuries, and the club wasn't able to overcome their losses.
"We need first to get our pitching [lined up], so we have our rotation," Loria said. "Those were guys we were counting on, and hopefully they will be back next year, a couple of them anyway. We will find a way to add to it. Too many people came to [Spring Training] hurt.
"It's just that the horses were not there to gallop out to the mound."
All the injuries put first-year manager Fredi Gonzalez in a difficult spot of patching up a depleted rotation.
"For a first-year manager, he was right there," Loria said of Gonzalez's performance. "I've been an owner for almost 10 years and I'm still learning. He's learning, and he's certainly open to discussion."
The Marlins continue their organizational meetings early next week in New York. In South Florida a few days ago, a first set of meetings took place at Dolphin Stadium.
"We'll be starting to review this season and [examine] next season and where we go with the direction of the club," Loria said. "I don't have a single idea about that at the moment. I'm going to hear what everybody has to say and then render my input."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.