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Loria's expectations were too high
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has every right to fire Fredi Gonzalez, preposterous as the move might appear. But Loria sure picked an odd time to make this change, which he basically has threatened since the end of last season.
The Marlins won two of three games from the Rays last weekend, losing only on the occasion of their latest harebrained promotion, vuvuzela night. They then hammered the Orioles on Tuesday, and with two more wins against the hapless O’s, could return to .500.
But no, Loria couldn’t wait.
This change will make sense only if Loria installs Bobby Valentine as this year’s Jack McKeon, and for all anyone knows that might be his plan; Triple-A manager Edwin Rodriguez will replace Fredi Gonzalez only on an interim basis.
Sources say the Marlins are "moving fast," trying to interview Valentine as quickly as possible. Other external and internal candidates are in mix too.
Loria said in a statement that, “We believe we can do better and be better.” No, Loria is the one who believes that. Most everyone else in baseball believes the Marlins — 34-36, 7 1/2 games back in the NL East — are about where they should be, maybe a little worse.
It was Loria — not Gonzalez, not president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest — who set ridiculous expectations for this team in spring training, saying he expected to make the playoffs and proclaiming, “We’ve got all the ammunition we need.”
All the ammunition that the Marlins could buy with their $57 million Opening Day payroll, the fifth lowest in the majors — and remember, it took union intervention to ensure that the Marlins spent that much.
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So now Gonzalez is gone, despite increasing the Marlins’ win total from 71 to 84 to 87 in his three full seasons. Gone, too, are bench coach Carlos Tosca and hitting coach Jim Presley — the latter even though the Marlins rank fourth in the NL in runs per game, with shortstop Hanley Ramirez performing below his usual levels.
Gonzalez handled his much-publicized benching of Ramirez last month impeccably, yet Loria apparently gave him little credit for his handling of a difficult situation. The Marlins rank 12th in the NL in bullpen ERA, and they just promoted two more relievers, Nos. 17 and 18 on the season. Their defense is flawed, their rotation behind Josh Johnson is just OK, but Loria doesn’t want to hear it. Loria just wanted Gonzalez gone.
If there is any justice, the 2011 World Series will feature a showdown between Loria’s two ex-managers: Gonzalez (who becomes a leading candidate to succeed Bobby Cox with the Braves) and Joe Girardi (who won last year’s Series with the Yankees).
Neither was good enough for Loria.
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