Ozzie Guillen was ousted as manager of the Miami Marlins after the Major League Baseball team finished last in the National League’s five-team East division.
The franchise hasn’t qualified for the playoffs since beating the New York Yankees in the 2003 World Series as the Florida Marlins. The team finished this season with a 69-93 record, 29 games behind division-champion Washington, after signing shortstop Jose Reyes and other high-priced free agents and moving into a $515 million retractable-roof stadium.
Guillen, who led the Chicago White Sox to a World Series title in 2005, spent one season with the Marlins and had three years left on his contract.
“After careful consideration following the disappointment of the 2012 season, we decided to dismiss Ozzie,” Larry Beinfest, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, said in a statement. “Our managerial search begins immediately and our hope is that a new manager, along with roster improvements, will restore a winning culture.”
Guillen’s relationship with team owner Jeffrey Loria was tumultuous. Loria suspended Guillen for five games this season for remarks supporting former Cuban President Fidel Castro. Guillen later apologized.
On Sept. 21, Guillen criticized the team’s performance to reporters while in New York and said Loria needed to “look in the mirror” and ask why the team has had so many managers. The Marlins have had six managers since Loria bought the team in 2002.
Guillen, 48, signed a four-year, $10 million contract in September to manage the Marlins, who opened their stadium in Miami’s Little Havana section this season.
The team spent almost $200 million on free agents this year, including $106 million on Reyes and $58 million on pitcher Mark Buehrle, and still failed to challenge for a playoff spot.
Guillen also feuded with players throughout the season. Relief pitcher Heath Bell, who signed a $27 million free-agent contract before the season, told Miami radio station WQAM on Sept. 25 that the team needed a manager that everybody “respects and looks up to.” Bell, who lost his closer’s job with the Marlins, was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Oct. 20.
In April, Guillen, a Venezuela native who has lived in the Miami area for a decade, was quoted in Time magazine as saying “I love Fidel Castro.” He then clarified his comments, according to the magazine.
“I respect Fidel Castro,” Guillen told Time. “You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that mother-----r is still here.”
The population of Miami-Dade County, which helped fund the Marlins’ ballpark after a decade of negotiations, is 34 percent Cuban, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. In the city of Miami, where Marlins Park is located, there are 137,301 people of Cuban origin out of a total population of 399,457, also 34 percent. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez was among those who condemned Guillen’s remarks.
Guillen was manager of the White Sox for eight years, compiling a 678-617 record.