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Miami Herald

 

Posted on Tue, Oct. 03, 2006

 

MARLINS

Gonzalez likely to replace Girardi

Braves coach Fredi Gonzalez played youth baseball in Little Havana. He likely will return today as Marlins manager.BY KEVIN BAXTER

kbaxter@MiamiHerald.com

 

ATLANTA - For as long as he can remember, Fredi Gonzalez has been driven by one simple goal: to honor his parents' sacrifice.

 

And he could get a chance to take another big step in that direction today if, as expected, he is named the ninth manager of the Florida Marlins.

 

Gonzalez, who interviewed for the job last fall, is widely expected to be the first choice to succeed Joe Girardi when the first-year manager is fired, a move that could happen as early as this morning, according to mlb.com.

 

Neither Girardi nor the Marlins could be reached for comment.

 

Calls to Gonzalez's Marietta, Ga., home were not returned Monday night, fueling reports that the Atlanta Braves third base coach was on his way to South Florida, a trip that would bring his career full circle because Gonzalez not only learned to play the game on the sandlots of Little Havana, but also learned to manage it here as well.

 

Through it all, though, Gonzalez said he has been inspired by the stories he has heard about the day 40 years ago this December when Fredi Sr. and Caridad Gonzalez rounded up their three children and rushed to Havana's Jose Marti International Airport just hours before a government deadline to leave the country expired.

 

They were allowed to take little more than the clothes on their back -- -- to their new home, where they had nothing and knew nobody.

 

`COURAGE'

 

''That's courage,'' Gonzalez said. ``To go someplace where they don't know anybody, they don't know the language, they don't know where they're going to get their next meal.

 

``My parents raised three good kids on nothing. On a dream. It puts it in perspective. You've got to be appreciative of what you've got.''

 

And Gonzalez, 42, is nothing if not appreciative of what he appears he is about to get, namely the chance to manage a Major League Baseball team in the city that welcomed his parents and nurtured their children.

 

Although he appears both eager and overwhelmed by the challenges that presents -- ''Am I ready?'' he asked himself last week. 'You want to say, `Yeah.' '' -- those who know him best don't share those reservations.

 

''He'll make a great manager,'' said Atlanta's Bobby Cox, who managed the Braves to an unprecedented 14 consecutive divisions titles, the past three with Gonzalez as third base coach. ``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.''

 

It's that last skill, Gonzalez's supporters agree, that might be his greatest asset. In fact Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz, who hired Gonzalez as a Triple A manager five years ago, lauded his communication skills.

 

''What makes people good communicators is they're smart,'' Schuerholz said. ``Their brains work well. They know what they want to say and they know how to say it. It's important for any leader.

 

``And he does it in two languages.''

 

LOCAL TIES

 

An All-Dade selection as a catcher at Miami Southridge High, Gonzalez was a 16th-round draft pick of the New York Yankees in 1982, but he never rose above Double A in six minor-league seasons. He stuck around long enough for his career to take another path, though, when he took over as interim manager of the Miami Miracle with 20 games left on their Florida State League schedule in 1990.

 

He was only 26, but he went 10-10 with a last-place team that summer, making such an impression that, less than two years later, he became the first manager in Marlins' history when the fledgling franchise hired him to run its New York-Penn League team in Erie, Pa.

 

The next season he led the Marlins' Single A affiliate to the California League title, winning the first of three minor-league Manager of the Year awards.

 

He was promoted to the big-league club in 1999 and coached third for 2 ? years under John Boles who, along with former Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca, became a mentor as well as a boss.

 

No one, however, has done more to mold Gonzalez, the expected manager, than Cox.

 

''Everybody at this level can run a game,'' said Gonzalez, standing in a hallway outside the Braves' clubhouse last week. ``The other stuff is the important stuff. The handling of the media, handling the players. And Bobby does such a great job.''

 

Then there's the family influence, which taught Gonzalez that the only way to get something is to work for it.

 

Work hard for it.

 

''Sometimes we lose that,'' said Gonzalez, whose father built his dream by working three jobs after emigrating from Cuba. 'We feel like, `Oh, I deserve that.' Well, you don't deserve it. What's that saying? You reap what you sow?

 

``Everything you get you should appreciate.''

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definitely he will be a story that all of south florida can embrace. And as the first ever manager of the team he definitely fits in well here.

 

Fredi Gonzalez Manager

Perry Hill Infield Coach

Mark Wiley Pitching Coach

?????????? Hitting Coach

Cookie Rojas 3rd base Coach

???????? Bench Coach

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Why are you bring Wiley back? Kranitz did a damn good job. I don't remember if he's close to Girardi or not.

 

 

Girardi fought the ownership to have Kranitz as the pitching coach when they wanted Wiley so yes he has close ties with Girardi.

 

I wasnt too fond of Wiley but the front office really like him so I would assume that hes our pitching coach next season.

 

As for hitting coach I would love to see Andres Gallaraga down here.

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Guest FlummoxedLummox

I just hope that Perry Hill stays.

I don't see Hill going anywhere. The FO was so insistent on him staying this past season, that only if he didn't want to coach anymore would Hill leave. Hopefully, he wants to stay.

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Should be interesting to see how the players take to him if he is indeed the new manager. He learned under a great one, he knows winning and he has ties to the franchise going way back so that's a plus.

 

Bring back Wayne Rosenthal as pitching coach. My Rosenthal jersey tee needs to be worn again.

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Where is Wiley now?

 

 

With the Rockies.

 

Should be interesting to see how the players take to him if he is indeed the new manager. He learned under a great one, he knows winning and he has ties to the franchise going way back so that's a plus.

 

 

Just playing the devil's advocate...most of the player's he'll be managing have no ties to the organization past last season, nor were they here when he was a part of our system.

 

To me, he was the logical choice last season pre-fire-sale for the Lowell connection (since that was the focus) now most of our key guys (Hanley, Uggla, Sanchez) don't know him or are just that nice kind of oblivious so that it won't make a difference.

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Guest FlummoxedLummox

Wiley did make D-train into an Cy Young Canidate

Kranitz produced three rookie 10+ game winners. :o

It doesn't matter. No one is saying Kranitz didn't do well. He did. The pitchers were awesome this year. Most of us, however, think it's a foregone conclusion that all of Girardi's staff will be gone. Thus, replacing the pitching, hitting, and third-base coach is also a task for this offseason.

 

EDIT: I assume we'll find out in the press conference.

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Wiley did make D-train into an Cy Young Canidate

Kranitz produced three rookie 10+ game winners. :o

 

4 actually my friend :)

 

but Krantiz will be on the cubs with Giradi. No way he stays here, why I think Wiley would leave scouting for coaching again.

 

Remember he did well with Beckett and Moehler (mostly) and Vargas last year too.

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so has it been confirmed that Perry Hill stays too?

 

and I thought Kranitz did a heck of a job this year. I was fine with Wiley too, the FO let Girardi bring in his own staff but probably recommended Wiley to him. I'd rather take Kranitz at this point, but I'm okay with either one.

 

now just need to find a hitting coach.

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