- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2006

12:51 p.m.

MIAMI — Florida Marlins manager Joe Girardi was fired today, a move that had been expected after his rift with owner Jeffrey Loria boiled over in an on-field confrontation two months ago.

Girardi lost his job even though he’s considered a strong candidate for NL manager of the year. The Marlins had baseball’s youngest team and lowest payroll at $15 million, but Girardi led them to a 78-84 record. The Marlins were in contention for a playoff berth until late September.

The cost-conscious Marlins wanted Girardi out so badly they were willing to let him go with two years left on a guaranteed three-year contract he signed in October 2005, when he became a manager for the first time. At 41, he was the second-youngest manager in the major leagues after spending 15 years as a big-league catcher.

Atlanta Braves third-base coach Fredi Gonzalez is considered the front-runner to replace Girardi. Gonzalez was runner-up in the Marlins’ search a year ago after Jack McKeon resigned.

Girardi, an Illinois native and Northwestern graduate, becomes a potential candidate to replace Dusty Baker, who whose contract with the Chicago Cubs was not renewed yesterday. Two other teams are also looking for managers — Washington parted with Frank Robinson, and San Francisco cut ties with Felipe Alou.

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