Marlins fire manager Joe Girardi

Updated: October 3, 2006, 4:55 PM ET
SportsTicker

MIAMI -- In the end, Joe Girardi's job security had more to do with dealing with the front office than his rookie-laden team.

The first-year manager was fired by the Florida Marlins on Tuesday, a move that was followed shortly by the hiring of Fredi Gonzalez.

One of the leading candidates for the National League Manager of the Year Award, Girardi had an outstanding debut in the dugout, guiding baseball's youngest and lowest-paid team to a surprising 78-84 record.

After an 11-31 start, the Marlins climbed into contention for a wild card berth and remained there until the season's final two weeks.

However, the 41-year-old Girardi had problems dealing with owner Jeffrey Loria and the rest of the front office over issues such as personnel and clubhouse access.

Due to those problems, Florida decided to turn to Gonzalez, who interviewed for the job last fall and had a number of ties to the organization.

The first minor league manager hired in team history in 1992, the 42-year-old Gonzalez had spent the last four seasons serving as the third base coach for the Atlanta Braves.

"I am very pleased to welcome Fredi back to our organization," Loria said in a statement. "His success as a manager and coach over the years is well documented, and his character and ties to our team and community make him the ideal choice."

Although he showed the potential to be one of the game's top managers, Girardi all but sealed his fate to be fired with a visible confrontation with Loria during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 6.

Girardi told Loria - who was sitting next to the dugout - to keep quiet after the owner hollered at plate umpire Larry Vanover over balls and strikes.

Following the loss, the clubhouse was closed for 90 minutes as Loria and Girardi aired their differences with each other. Loria reportedly was ready to fire his manager but was talked out of it.

Girardi reportedly also had communication issues with general manager Larry Beinfest. On Tuesday morning, he met with Beinfest, assistant general manager Mike Hill and president David Samson and learned his fate.

"It was short, brief and unemotional," Girardi told mlb.com. "I talked to one of my mentors last night and said I had never been fired before. He said, 'Welcome to the club.'"

Despite his ouster, Girardi is expected to figure heavily in the offseason managerial carousel.

An Illinois native who attended Northwestern University, Girardi is the heavy favorite to replace Dusty Baker, who was dismissed by the Chicago Cubs on Monday. The former catcher broke in with the Cubs in 1989, playing the first four of his 15 seasons with his hometown team.

Considered a strong managerial candidate for more than a year, Gonzalez assumes leadership over a team that now has some high expectations following its strong showing. That is completely unlike his predecessor who inherited a club that figured to have a lengthy rebuilding process in front of it.

"I have no thoughts on that," Gonzalez said about the pressure to follow up last season's success. "We are going to try to win as many games as possible next season."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index