In 2006, first-year manager Joe Girardi led the inexperienced Florida Marlins to a 78-84 record. The team, which started six rookies, became the only club to pass the .500 mark after being 20 games below earlier in the season. Four rookie starting pitchers—Josh Johnson (who now has the NL’s third-best ERA), Ricky Nolasco, Scott Olsen, and Anibal Sanchez—each won at least 10 games.

Florida became the first organization to achieve that feat, and the Marlins nearly made the playoffs as the NL Wild Card. For his efforts, Girardi earned National League Manager of the Year.

And a pink slip.

Rumor had it that Girardi didn’t get along with owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson. Along came Fredi Gonzalez, a long-time coach in the Marlins’ minor league system and a former third base coach for the Atlanta Braves.

Friendly and welcoming, Gonzalez was the opposite of Girardi’s hard-nosed demeanor.

The following year, Florida finished in last place with a 71-91 record and virtually the same lineup. Gone was Girardi’s discipline and accountability for mental and physical mistakes. Instead, in charge was a manager who wanted to be everyone’s friend and who answered directly to the ownership.

Last year, Girardi led the stacked New York Yankees to a World Series championship in just his second season. Gonzalez, meanwhile, faced trouble in South Florida despite garnering NL Manager of the Year honors.

Superstar Hanley Ramirez, recently taken out of a game for a lack of hustle, doesn’t give it his all through a 162-game season. He would go on to criticize Gonzalez, and make no mistake that Ramirez is more important to the organization than a manager with a 276-279 career record.

Players like Dan Uggla continue to swing at the same bad pitches for six years. Relief pitcher Renyel Pinto took the mound in key situations for several seasons despite a lack of control.

Lineup confusion helped the Tampa Bay Rays defeat the Marlins in a vuvuzela-fueled game Saturday night. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the same air horns that express triumph during the FIFA World Cup indirectly led to Gonzalez’s firing?

With Triple-A New Orleans’ Edwin Rodriguez as the interim manager, it will be interesting to see whether Bobby Valentine is asked to coach the Marlins. Before this season started, Gonzalez was considered on the hot seat and Valentine was seen as a prime target to take over.

Many would call Loria, Samson, and Larry Beinfest, the president of baseball operations, crazy for believing that Florida has been underachieving. What with the fifth-lowest payroll in baseball, just two of the teams below them have better records (the first place Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres).

But through 70 games, the Marlins remain two games below .500, just as they were last year. Though the bullpen can’t be blamed on Gonzalez, it’s about time this season stopped from spiraling out of control.

So long, Fredi.

Have a great time coaching the first-place Braves next season as a replacement to legend and friend Bobby Cox.

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