Source: Marlins to dismiss Girardi, target Gonzalez

10/3/2006 - MLB Florida Marlins

Despite a season that far exceeded expectations, the Marlins are expected to move quickly Tuesday to dismiss manager Joe Girardi and name a successor, a source familiar with Florida's situation told ESPN Insider's Jerry Crasnick.

According to the source, the chances are "99 out of 100" that Girardi's replacement will be 42-year-old Fredi Gonzalez, the Braves' third-base coach the past three seasons. Girardi is scheduled to meet with Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and Gonzalez and the GM are expected to meet later in the day, MLB.com reported.

Gonzalez interviewed last fall for the job that ultimately went to Girardi.

The Marlins want to act quickly on naming Girardi's successor for fear of the Nationals recruiting Gonzalez. Former Atlanta executive Stan Kasten, now president of the Nats, is looking for a replacement for manager Frank Robinson and is expected to consider hiring Gonzalez.

"He'll make a great manager," Braves manager Bobby Cox told the Miami Herald. "He would be outstanding in any circumstances. Veteran club. Young club. Makes no difference. He's bright, really knows the game of baseball. And he's a great, great communicator."

Girardi has said repeatedly over the last several weeks that he still hopes to fulfill the full terms of the three-year contract he signed before the season.

"I came here to do a job," he said last week. "I love what these kids have accomplished, and I'd like to see it through."

Girardi, who won three World Series rings as a catcher for the
New York Yankees, is considered a strong candidate for NL manager of the year. With the lowest payroll in the major leagues, the Marlins were
widely projected to lose more than 100 games. They started 11-31,
then became the first club in major league history to climb above
.500 after being 20 games under. After a late slide, the club finished at 78-84.

Girardi's job security has been questioned because of a strained relationship with owner Jeffrey Loria. A much-publicized rift between the men erupted at a game Aug. 6, when Loria berated an umpire while sitting behind the plate. From the dugout, Girardi told or asked the owner to stop, witnesses said. Loria angrily left his seat and confronted Girardi after the game during a 90-minute clubhouse meeting.

Loria wouldn't endorse Girardi when he finally addressed the matter three weeks later.

On Sunday, Beinfest was complimentary of the team's play this year, but did not specifically endorse Girardi.

"I think this team was prepared to play," Beinfest said. "They played hard every day. I think there was a winning attitude instilled here, and this team won a lot of games.

"I think Joe and his staff deserve a lot of credit for that. I would have to say, as far as the game managing, I thought it was good. Joe's a rookie and there can always be rookie mistakes. There can always be Monday-morning quarterbacking, but I think he did a good job."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.