Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is said to be less than satisfied with his team's standing, and in a fairly shocking development is apparently considering replacing well-regarded manager Fredi Gonzalez, who has been widely praised for his performance this season.
The Marlins are 87-74 under Gonzalez despite a league-low $36 million payroll, but people familiar with the situation say Loria believes the team is good enough to have made the postseason.
"A lot of people think the Marlins overachieved, but the one person who counts thinks they underachieved," said one person familiar with Loria's thinking. "He's upset that the Marlins didn't make the playoffs.''
Reached in New York, Loria said of the managerial situation, "I don't really have any comment. I don't talk about rumors, and you know that. Talk to (GM Larry) Beinfest.''
Beinfest couldn't be reached immediately, and other Marlins people did not immediately return calls.
Bobby Valentine, who has been hired as an analyst at ESPN.com, is reported by that entity to be in discussions with the Marlins about a job. The position wasn't specified but Valentine is interested in managing and has always been a manager. Valentine didn't return a phone call, but a source said he is talking to multiple teams.
A source said the Indians have contacted Valentine for their managerial opening. The Indians are in the process of forming a short list, a person familiar with that situation said.
Valentine took the Mets to the Subway Series in 2000 and won a Japan League title with Chiba Lotte. The Nats could have some interest in him, as well, though they may keep interim manager Jim Riggleman. Valentine's contract with Chiba Lotte expired after this past season, and he is now working in TV. Valentine made $4 million a year with Chiba Lotte, which would be a high price for the small-budget Marlins to match.
Loria once fired Joe Girardi after he won the Manager of the Year award, so his standards are fairly high -- although in that case he and Girardi had a personal falling out. Gonzalez was brought in to replace Girardi in large part because his personality meshed better with the front office. Gonzalez, who is signed through 2011 after inking a two-year extension before this season, has been considered a 2009 Manager of the Year candidate, although the Rockies' Jim Tracy is now regarded the heavy favorite.
The Marlins have consistently outperformed their payroll, which is annually either lowest or second lowest in baseball, under the management team of Loria, Beinfest and their well-regarded scouts. However, they are a very young team this year, and very few people expected them to make the playoffs even though Loria from the start has reportedly said that was their goal.