Report: Marlins to offer manager job to Bobby Valentine

The Marlins have apparently already found their replacement for Fredi Gonzalez.

From the Miami Herald:

Bobby Valentine is expected to be offered the job as the Florida Marlins’ next manager.

Valentine, an analyst for ESPN, confirmed through an e-mail he was flying to South Florida to meet with close friend and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and several team executives.

That’s when Loria is expected to offer the 60-year-old former Rangers and Mets skipper a four-year contract to become the organization’s 11th manager, ESPN reported Thursday night.

Team president David Samson confirmed he called Valentine moments after the team fired its winningest manager, Fredi Gonzalez, Wednesday morning. Samson said Thursday that Valentine’s interview Friday would be the first in a series with “several” candidates.

It was a little strange that the Marlins decided to fire Gonzalez after winning two straight games. (Usually owners wait until the team is on a downslide to fire the manager.) But if they already had Valentine lined up as a candidate and felt good that he would agree to come aboard, then their timing with Gonzalez makes more sense.

Valentine last managed in the big leagues from 1996 to 2002 with the Mets. He was with the Chiba Lotte Marines from 2004 until he was fired in 2009 and has spent the last year with ESPN.

I’m dying to see how he and Hanley Ramirez will get along.

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Report: Marlins fire manager Fredi Gonzalez

In a rather surprising development, the Marlins have fired manager Fredi Gonzalez according to the Palm Beach Post.

Here is part of owner Jeffrey Loria’s statement regarding the firing:

It is never easy to make a change in managers. Fredi has been with our Club for four years. We have become close, and I am extremely fond of Fredi. I, along with all our fans, am grateful for Fredi’s contributions. At the same time, we can’t let personal feelings get in the way of taking steps that we believe are necessary to improve our ballclub.

Decisions on individual personnel cannot supercede our overall goal, which is to win. We believe we can do better and be better. We owe it to our fans to put this team in the best possible position to win. Everyone knows how I feel about winning. That’s the reason we’re making this change.

We still have a very long season in front of us, and plenty of time to turn things around. Everyone – our fans, our team, our organization, and myself – wants us to win. That continues to be, and will always be, the goal.

Along with Gonzalez, bench coach Carlos Tosca and hitting coach Jim Presley were both let go as well. Triple-A New Orleans skipper Edwin Rodriguez was named interim manager, while Brandon Hyde was named interim bench coach and John Mallee was named interim hitting coach.

I couldn’t even begin to speculate why Gonzalez was fired (the Marlins are only two games under .500, although are 7.5 games back in the NL East), but I can assure you that we don’t know the full story yet. He was named The Sporting News Manager of the Year in 2008 and with a win over the Cardinals earlier this year, he won more games than any other skipper in Marlins history. Something doesn’t add up here.

One club that could be interested in Gonzalez’s services is the Braves, with whom he spent a couple of years with before being named manager of the Marlins in 2006. Bobby Cox is retiring at the end of the season and Gonzalez might be the perfect fit.

Either way, Gonzalez will have suitors. He earned a lot of respect for the way he handled an incident with Hanley Ramirez earlier in the season and I’m sure he’ll be back on someone’s bench next season.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Ramirez apologizes to his teammates, but has he learned anything?

You know when you’re a kid and you get into trouble and your parents threaten to take something away from you (TV, video games, play time, etc.) as punishment until you apologize? Then, even though you don’t mean it, you apologize because you just want your Nintendo 64 back?

That’s what I feel just happened with Hanley Ramirez. He wanted back into the lineup after skipper Fredi Gonzalez benched him on Monday for not hustling after a ball that he booted into right field, so he apologized to his teammates and now he wants to move on.

Here are the comments he made following his 3-for-5 performance at the plate last night in a win over the Marlins (via the Miami Herald):

“I just came back in the lineup and got a lot of motivation from my teammates,” Ramirez said. “We get along. Things are going to happen. 162 games. But I think you put those things on the side and keep moving forward.”

When asked what he told teammates before Wednesday’s game, Ramirez replied: “I just apologized to everybody. So it’s in the past. I talked to my family, wife and kids, and they’re happy.”

When asked if he was glad the saga was now behind him, he responded: “We’re just going to try to win the series (with a win Thursday). I’m happy to be in the lineup.”

Now, the apology was meant to be a private manner between him and his teammates, so I get that he might not divulge a lot of details to the media. But does anyone else get the sense that he’s just trying to brush this situation under the rug? At some point we in the media have to let this story die and move on (it’s not like he killed somebody and tried to bury them under Sun Life Stadium), but I don’t know, I expected more from him in light of the apology.

Maybe that’s because I don’t believe that he believes that he did anything wrong. He said as much on Tuesday when he was questioned about the benching. So is he really sorry for potentially screwing his team out of a win or is he just sorry enough to get back into the lineup?

We’ll see. This isn’t the first time Ramirez has had run-ins with a coach or teammate and if it’s the last, I’ll be shocked. But at least the Marlins can put the situation behind them for now. For now.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Should Braves consider Gonzalez as Cox’s replacement?

Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that the Braves should look to bring back Marlins’ manager Fredi Gonzalez when Bobby Cox steps down at the end of the season. Gonzalez was Atlanta’s third base coach for four years prior to his first season with the Marlins in 2007.

Back to Gonzalez. It shouldn’t take much convincing for him to come back to Atlanta. In his four seasons as Marlins manager, the team’s payroll has ranked 29th, 30th, 30th and 26th (this season). Yet, Florida is over .500 for the third straight season, is coming off a second-place finish and in 2008 he was voting The Sporting News Manager of the Year in the National League for an 84-74 finish despite the majors’ smallest payroll.

The Marlins have little fan support. They have a kooky owner, Jeffrey Loria, who actually balked at bringing Gonzalez back this season. Loria denied an ESPN report in October that he was exploring hiring Bobby Valentine to manage. But given that the report came from the nation’s best baseball reporter, Buster Olney, I know who I’m siding with.

The problem, as Schultz notes in his article, is that Gonzalez’s contract runs through 2011. That doesn’t mean he’s untouchable until then, but it does make things a little more difficult from the Braves’ perspective. Plus, the Marlins and the Braves play in the same division, so I wonder how that would work. (Although Bruce Bochy went from San Diego to San Francisco in the same type of scenario and the Giants and Padres play in the same division.)

That said, Brave fans have to at least like the thought of Gonzalez winding up in Hotlanta. Cox will go down as one of the most respected skippers in all of baseball and the Braves would be wise to hire someone with experience to fill his shoes. Gonzalez has done an admirable job in Florida and might be able to give Atlanta the shot in the arm that it needs.

Of course, it’s only May. Who knows what will happen over the course of the next four and a half months leading up to Cox’s retirement.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

It’s wake up time for Hanley Ramirez

I have a new respect for Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez in wake of his decision to bench All-Star Hanley Ramirez. Because Gonzalez has sent a message that most fans wish athletes would receive.

I didn’t think Ramirez could make himself look any worse than he did after he loafed after a ball that he booted into right field against the D-Back on Monday night. Then he spoke on Tuesday.

Did you lose respect for Gonzalez?
Ramirez: A little bit. We got 24 more guys out there, hopefully they can do the same things I do. That are wearing the Marlins uniform. There’s nothing I can say.

Are you going to apologize to your team for dogging it?
Ramirez: For what? Do what? We have a lot of people dogging it after ground balls. They never pull guys.

Profound. You have to appreciate it when a guy doesn’t take responsibility for his own actions and instead shifts the blame to those around him. I guess if some his teammates all decided to rob a bank, Ramirez wouldn’t have a problem following suit. After all, they did it first, right?

This is what Gonzalez had to say following Ramirez’s interview session with the media yesterday:

“I think he’s got to take care of some problems,” Gonzalez said when asked when his star might play again. “When he handles that the right way, he’ll be fine. It could be good. I think whatever feelings he has with me or not . . . it’s fine and dandy. We don’t need to get along. But I think he needs to get along with the 24 other guys on his team, and when that happens, we’ll run him back in there. I think if he sets his ego aside, this could be good.”

Spoken by a man who gets it. There are plenty of professional athletes that need to be reminded that their team comes first and Ramirez is one of them. This isn’t a Gonzalez vs. Ramirez thing – it’s a Ramirez thing. He didn’t only let his manager down – he let his entire team down. And while it’s only one game in the middle of May, every game counts. What if the Marlins finish one game out of the Wild Card race in September? Teams come up a few games short every year of making the playoffs and maybe Ramirez just cost his team one of those opportunities.

If this were the first time that Ramirez acted up, then maybe everyone would be willing to move on quickly. But even the Red Sox had to discipline him for behavior problems and last year Marlins’ second baseman Dan Uggla called him out for his poor attitude. He’s not 19 anymore – this kind of thing shouldn’t be happening.

Either way, he’s crossed the wrong person in Gonzalez, because the Marlins’ skipper is all about the team. Ramirez can either get on board with the philosophy or ride the pine. It’s his call.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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