- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
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At a time when Bobby Valentine has begun the process of pursing a possible return as a manager in Major League Baseball and is in communication with the Marlins and other teams about a possible job, sources said, Florida president David Samson would not specifically guarantee that current Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez is going to be retained.
Rather, Samson told reporters on Sunday afternoon that Gonzalez is going to be evaluated at the end of the season. Gonzalez signed a two-year contract extension just eight months ago.
Gonzalez, 45, has managed the Marlins the last two seasons after replacing Joe Girardi, and Florida has contended in both years. Gonzalez was named The Sporting News Manager of the Year in 2008. Gonzalez agreed to a two-year extension with the Marlins in spring training, and he is signed through the 2011 season.
However, there has been concern on the coaching staff this week after they were told that no decision has been made about whether to bring them back for 2010. Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins' owner, is meeting with club executives after the end of the regular season.
"As we looked at the performance at things that happened, games that went one way, games that went another way, there is no question we felt we should have been a playoff team," Samson said during Sunday's Marlins-Phillies game.
Valentine, 59, has managed the Texas Rangers for eight seasons and the Mets from 1996-2002, and over the last six seasons he has managed the Chiba Lotte Marines. Valentine recently returned to ESPN as a baseball analyst. He is a possible candidate for openings with both the Cleveland Indians and Washington.
Gonzalez said he was not worried about the report and called Valentine "a good baseball man."
"I don't even want to talk about it," Gonzalez said after the Phillies beat the Marlins 7-6 in 10 innings. "You get judged on wins and losses. We all have bosses. We'll just keep moving forward."
The Marlins went 71-91 in Gonzalez's first season and improved to 84-77 last year, when he became the third manager to lead them to a winning record.
They were 87-74 entering Sunday's finale at Philadelphia and remained in the wild-card hunt until the final weeks.
"We're all disappointed," Samson said. "Certainly winning 87 or 88 games is positive for the organization, but our goal every year is to make the playoffs. That's that."
Samson would not set a date when a decision would be reached on the future of Gonzalez and the coaching staff. He refused to rule out other cost-cutting changes within the organization.
"We have not done furloughs, we haven't done mass firings in the front office that other teams have done, but we're evaluating the possibility of that too," Samson said.
Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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