One Team's Trash Is Another's Skipper: Valentine To Replace Gonzalez In Florida

↵In an obvious attempt to wake up the fourth-place Marlins, Jeffy Loria and company fired manager Fredi Gonzalez. Reports indicate that the Marlins will offer Bobby Valentine a four-year deal to become the new skipper of the Fish. That'll wake 'em up, for sure. ↵

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↵Valentine has managed the Texas Rangers and the New York Mets in his major league career, spending much of the time in between (and since) bouncing from the minors leagues to Japan and back to the U.S. to do TV. His career record in the majors is just over .500 (1117-1072) and he only made it to the playoffs twice in 15 seasons. He did take the Mets to the NLCS in 1999 before losing to division rival Atlanta and made it to the World Series in 2000 before falling to the cross-town New York Yankees. ↵

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↵Valentine is always the hot name for manager vacancies, having been rumored to be up for a number of jobs while still in Japan. Even during this off-season there was talk that Valentine could be replacing Gonzalez before Jeffrey Loria and the Marlins decided to keep him. The writing was on the wall, however, when Valentine recently took his name out of the running for the Orioles job at what felt like the exact same time Gonzalez was getting canned. ↵

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↵Some people – namely Braves manager Bobby Cox – were upset that Gonzalez was blamed for the Marlins' troubles, but after a disappointing start to a season in which the Fish were expected to compete, and a very public spat with Hanley Ramirez after he refused to apologize for lollygagging a booted ball earlier this season, Gonzalez was an easy mark. ↵

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↵⇥Gonzalez called Cox about 9 a.m. ET, a short time after learning that he was being relieved of his duties with one more year left on his contract. While utilizing 16 different relievers as part of a bullpen mix that has posted the National League's fourth-worst ERA, the Marlins still managed to enter Wednesday two games under .500 (34-36) and six games behind the first-place Braves. ↵⇥

↵⇥"I was shocked," Cox said. "I know that [owner] is unpredictable. But everything that [Gonzalez] has done for that guy, are [you] kidding me? Every year, they've played their [butts] off. That guy didn't appreciate anything. He's one of those guys that thinks you change [just to change]. He's always wanting to fire the coaches. Always. That's his history. He lost a good one there." ↵⇥

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↵It's a wonder why Cox is so mad, as the Marlins' loss may be the Braves' gain, as it seems. Chipper Jones mentioned on Wednesday that, "I think everybody here would love to have Fredi back." Gonzalez was formerly bench coach and third base coach for the Braves. They do, however, have other solid candidates for manager next year in their system, including Terry Pendleton and Eddie Perez. Would bringing in Gonzalez now create a definitive torch passing for the Braves? Could that cause issues for some on the staff right now, and is that what the Braves need in the thick of a pennant race? ↵

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↵As for Florida, they could use the shakeup the Braves will be trying to avoid…and Valentine is the right guy for that. Valentine's "baseball mind" is highly regarded, and he was the first foreign manager to win the Japan Series, but he's only led a team to better than third place in the division four of 15 seasons in MLB with no division titles. So what he's lacked in sustained success as an American baseball manager, he more than makes up for in personality. The fans love him because he gives a dynamic face to the franchise. The media loves him because he knows how to work a room, will always give a good quote whether his team wins or loses and may occasionally wear a fake mustache in the dugout after being ejected. ↵

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↵It seems the only people who don't like him are team management as he's been fired from jobs in both America and Japan after very public and acrimonious spats with his bosses, one in which saw the owner of his Japanese team create a smear campaign to sully his name after Valentine convinced the team to overspend by millions of dollars on players and stadium improvements that they were never able to recoup. ↵

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↵The Marlins already have their new stadium planned, so Bobby V doesn't have to worry about that. But he'll find a way to make the Marlins more interesting, that's for sure. If he doesn't make them any better, the fallout should be something worth watching as well. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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