The Miami Marlins fired Barry Bonds on Monday after one season as the team's hitting coach, reportedly because he showed a dwindling interest in keeping the job. Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball broke the story. Bonds' dismissal was not a surprise to reporter Craig Mish, who has covered the Marlins for years, because Miami manager Don Mattingly had expressed disapproval with Bonds' work earlier in the season:
Mish also reports that slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 27 homers but suffered a huge midseason slump and had one of his worst seasons overall, had stopped listening to Bonds, who hadn't ever been a full-time coach before the 2016 season.
There's also a saying, which probably is overused, but still might be germane here: Those who can, do, and those who can't, teach. Bonds, the most feared hitter of his generation—PEDs or not—certainly could do it at the plate. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, whose idea it was to hire Bonds for Mattingly's staff, hoped his hitting skills could translate to teaching skills. Not yet, apparently.
Initial results were mixed at best. Overall, the Marlins showed greater offensive success in some areas, with J.T. Realmuto, Justin Bour, Martin Prado, Christian Yelich, Pablo Ozuna, Derek Dietrich, and Ichiro Suzuki posting one-season personal improvements in their adjusted OPS. Overall, the Marlins finished 27th in runs scored, just two spots better league-wide than in 2015. It's also fair to say that the Marlins need better hitters than they have, and that Stanton must do better no matter who is coaching him.
Hey, Ted Williams was a genius with the bat, but he didn't make for a great major league coach either. It's also worth noting that working for the Miami Marlins, with Loria's notoriously difficult and unusual ways, is a different experience than that of any other team. To that end, third base coach Lenny Harris and bullpen coach Reid Cornelius were also relieved of their duties.
But it's also damning that Mattingly would say Bonds' enthusiasm waned as the season wore on. It's possible that Bonds might learn from this experience and do better at his next coaching job, if there is one, or he might just get back on his bicycle and keep riding until voters elect him to the Hall of Fame, if it ever happens.