Aguilas manager is no average Joe
Fermin breeds confidence, success while remaining humble
SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic -- His roster is filled with some of the most recognizable names in Latin America. The egos in the locker room are enough to make less confident managers in any country wince.
Aguilas manager Felix Fermin is not exactly the Joe Torre of the Caribbean, but he's not your average Joe, either.
"There is no big secret to my success," Fermin said. "In life, you just try to do the best you can do with what you have. That's what I am doing."
With Fermin at the helm, the Aguilas have won five Dominican Winter League titles, the most by a manager in the league and three Caribbean Series crowns. Overall, he is 235-159 as the Aguilas manager and could be on the biggest winning streak of his career. In 2007, Fermin's Aguilas won the Dominican Winter League title, and the Caribbean Series crown. Fermin's Monterrey Sultanes won the Mexican League Championship last summer.
"Hopefully we are on the verge of winning back-to-back Caribbean Series and we just won the league championship so he has to be doing something right," Aguilas pitcher Derek Lee said. "The guy knows what he is doing and his record speaks for itself."
Fermin refuses to take sole credit for his team's accomplishment and often shies away from praise in any language. He would much rather read off the list of players who have played for him since he began managing eight seasons ago than boast about himself.
"There is no way I can pay back the players for all of the joy they have given me over the years or God for watching over me," Fermin said. "All I have to do is think about what we have done and it makes me proud."
Also under Fermin's guidance, the Aguilas finished as the Dominican Winter League runner-up from 2001-2002 and 2005-2006. The only time his club didn't make it to the finals came during the 2003-2004 season.
If Miguel Tejada and Tony Pena Sr. are the Patriot Players, Fermin should be considered the Patriot Manager.
"This team is a symbol for baseball all over the world, not just in the Caribbean and not just in the Dominican," Fermin said. "Everywhere I go, people ask me about the Aguilas and I think that says what kind of organization this is. This is a winning organization that does things the proper way."
"I can't tell you what an honor it is to be managing this team for so many years," Fermin continued. "God has been on my side and the players all respect me. That's the most important part of our team, the respect. We all respect each other as men and baseball people."
Respect is the term most often used when describing Fermin and his managing style. With a roster full of big league talent -- 13 of the 28 players on the Aguilas roster are on 40-man Major League rosters -- respect, freedom for players and hands-off approach are the biggest keys to his managerial success. The same attributes were trademarks of Torre's success with a roster full of All-Stars during his tenure with the Yankees.
"He just says, 'Get out there and play and have fun,'" Royals shortstop T.J. Pena said. "He's always upbeat and having fun, but when it's time to have fun, he has fun. He's the perfect manager for a team like this. Everyone has big league experience and we have guys who have been around the game."
"He's a good manager obviously, but I admire what kind of man he is," added Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada said. "The way he treats us is like men. He is the best. He's not in your face and he always has a calm face no matter what the situation is."
Fermin knows how to treat Major League players because he was one.
Starting in 1987, Fermin played 10 Major League seasons with Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Seattle and the Chicago Cubs. He hit .259 in 903 career games with his best season coming in 1994 when he hit .317 for the Mariners. He is often remembered for being traded by the Indians to the Mariners for Omar Vizquel in 1993.
"When I was a player, I was very interested in the fundamentals of the game and why the manager did what he did," Fermin said. "I was always on the bench watching and paying attention, hoping one day I would be able to do the job. That experience helped me become the manager I am today."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.