Marlins' Logan Morrison Rips Ownership Over Firing Of Hitting Coach

Logan Morrison #20 of the Florida Marlins scores a run off of a single hit by Hanley Ramirez #2 (not shown) in the seventh inning against the the New York Mets.

So here's something you don't see every day. Especially from a second-year player.

Logan Morrison on the Wednesday firing of Marlins hitting coach John Mallee (via Clark Spencer):

A night's sleep hasn't cooled Logan Morrison, who remains unhappy that the Marlins fired hitting coach John Mallee and says it was owner Jeffrey Loria's decision -- and Loria's alone. And Morrison said other players on the Marlins share his feelings.

Asked if he or other players had voiced their displeasure with the front office, Morrison replied: "The front office is definitely around, but I don't think we have to express anything or talk to them to let them know how we feel about it. I don't think it was their choice, either. Actually, I know it wasn't their choice."

Asked if he thought ownership made the call on Mallee, Morrison answered: "Absolutely. 100 percent. You know it was. I'm sure he'll tell you that, too."

Prior to joining the Marlins as hitting coach last July, Mallee served as the organization's minor-league hitting instructor, and worked with Morrison, Chris Coughlan, Mike Stanton, Gaby Sanchez, and the rest of the Marlins' home-grown hitters. Dan Uggla, for example -- though no longer a Marlin, of course -- was apparently a big fan.

Funny thing was, Mallee was hired to replace Jim Presley, who'd overseen some pretty successful Florida hitting attacks. Last season when Presley and manager Fredi Gonzalez were fired, the Marlins ranked ninth in the major leagues in scoring. In both 2008 and '9, the Marlins finished fifth in the National League in scoring.

Presley wasn't much of a hitter in the major leagues -- good power, but .290 career on-base percentage -- but going purely by the results, he seems to have been a pretty good hitting coach in the major leagues, and we might guess he was let go last summer merely for the sake of tidy housecleaning, rather than anything specific to him.

But Presley was dumped, and less than a year later Mallee's been dumped, too. His replacement? Ex-major leaguer Eduardo Perez, who's never coached in the majors. I'm not sure he's ever been a hitting coach ever, anywhere.

"He's a baseball man, and everybody knows him," Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said of Perez Thursday morning on the radio show "First Pitch" on the MLB Network. "He's been around. Although he doesn't have much experience at teaching, as a coach, but he played in the big leagues for 13 years, so I think that's good enough. You know better than anybody that experience, when you've played that long in the big leagues, I think you know what you're doing. I think having Eduardo, he's fully bi-lingual, he's very smart, intelligent, so I think he's going to be able to relay the right message."

Yeah. Because you wouldn't want your batting coach to have much experience, you know. coaching. That would just be foolishness, to have a coach like that.

The Marlins currently rank 10th in the National League in scoring. They're sixth in on-base percentage and eighth in slugging percentage, and probably should rank seven or eighth in scoring. And with one or two big games, they would rank seventh or eighth, because there's very little separating seventh from 10th. Or for that matter, fifth from 14th.

The Marlins haven't done well with runners in scoring position: 11th in batting average, 13th in OPS. Which explains at least some of their underachievement in terms of OPS vs. scoring.

More generally, they've struggled to score because Omar Infante and Hanley Ramirez haven't hit like they're supposed to, and because Emilio Bonifacio plain can't hit. That trio's struggles have offset fantastic seasons from Morrison, Mike Stanton, and Gaby Sanchez.

It's pretty obvious that what got Mallee fired -- or what was used as the internal justification for firing him, anyway -- was the Marlins' (then) seven-game losing streak, with six of those losses coming by just one run. If you don't really understand the impact of luck in baseball, it's easy to look at all those one-run losses and think, "If only we'd done the little things better!" -- moving runners over, hitting that fly ball with a runner on third, not striking out -- "we might have won all six of those games!"

Or at least two or three of them.

Which is certainly true. The Marlins could have won a few of those seven games, with just slightly better situational hitting. The question is whether or not the hitting coach had anything to do with the hitters' failures during this stretch.

I would argue that he probably did not.

I would also argue that Jeffrey Loria, whatever his faults, has actually done a pretty good job running the Marlins over the years, at least in terms of payroll vs. performance. I will also note that the Marlins' hitters have underachieved this season, though that's largely because of Hanley Ramirez's struggles, which can be partly (or largely, or wholly) blamed on his poor physical state this spring.

My gut reaction is that Logan Morrison's got a legitimate beef, and that this is a strange way to run an organization. But the Marlins have fooled us before. Let's give this a few months before we decide for sure.

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