ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 13: Manager Fredi Gonzalez #33 of the Florida Marlins watches his team against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on June 13, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
The morning after their shakey bullpen managed to hold a lead for the first time since Prohibition (give or take a few games), the Marlins responded by firing manager Fredi Gonzalez after three and a half seasons and more wins than anyone else who's ever had the job.
"I think, as the manager, you're always the [fall] guy,'' Gonzalez said after packing his bags Wednesday. "And I take that responsibility, and I take that challenge on. And when it doesn't work, I'll take that bullet, too."
As president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest confirmed the ax began to swing after the Rangers swept the Fish last week, the media lept to award Gonzalez frontrunner status for the soon-to-be vacant manager position in Atlanta. And if that pans out, won't it be just like the Marlins?
"I am extremely fond of Fredi," owner Jeffrey Loria said in a statement that was just like Jeffrey Loria (by which we mean it pointed the finger at anything but the roster). "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...
"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."
The "best possible position to win" would include major bullpen upgrades, but the educated guess says the ever-frugal Marlins found it cheaper to fire Gonzalez and blame the particular flavor of lemonade he produced from a team sprinkled with lemons and financed less than any other.
The Marlins may aquire a better manager than Gonzalez, but they will see little difference without pairing the move with key trades. Without filling a roster's holes, expecting wins upon wins is a bit like expecting the proverbial monkeys to type up some Shakespeare -- and firing a decent manager when it doesn't happen is the only comic tragedy Loria seems capable of writing. Gonzalez joins former manager Joe Girardi, now with the Yankees, in being fired despite earning Sporting News manager of the year honors while with the team.
Hopefully, like Girardi, Fredi ends up in a better situation.
Triple A New Orleans manager Edwin Rodriguez has been named interim manager for the 34-36 Fish, who are currently in Baltimore preparing for the second in a three-game series against the Orioles. Bench coach Carlos Tosca and hitting coach Jim Presley were also fired.
The Marlins are currently 7.5 games out of first place in the National League East.