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Report: Bobby Valentine talking to Marlins

    Returning from the game last night, I encountered a mugging on the steps of City Hall in downtown Philadelphia. A group of teenagers threw a homeless man to the sidewalk, punched him in the face a few times, and left him there bleeding. I called 911, spoke to the cops, and waited long enough to make sure the guy was all right before continuing on to my room.

    Once there, I discovered this  ESPN story, which reports that Major League manager Bobby Valentine is "in communication" with the Marlins over a "possible position." It doesn't specify the position, leaving it up to the imagination to decide. But Valentine, who has spent the past few years in Japan, has mentioned a possible return to managing in the majors.

 On top of that, members have the Marlins' coaching staff have not been told whether they would be re-hired for next season, something that normally takes place before closing day. Larry Beinfst, the Marlins 'president of baseball operations, said the coaching situation wouldn't be resolved until sometime after the season. What are they waiting for?

  Manager Fredi Gonzalez remains under contract through 2011. He received a two-year extention last spring training. But who knows what the Marlins on top are thinking. While all of the other heavy hitters in the Marlins' organization (Beinfest, David Samson, etc.) are in Philadelphia for the final series, owner Jeffrey Loria has been conspicuously absent.

  On Saturday, Beinfest told reporters that the organization was " disappointed" with the team's failure to reach the playoffs even though it will finish with the third-highest win total in franchise history. Beinfest began his remaks by discussing "the negative side of things" -- not the positive.

  The Marlins have ended up winners in four of the past six seasons --  2004, '05, '08 and this season -- yet failed to reach the playoffs in any of them. I asked Beinfest if spending more money on payroll might help get the team over the hump. Once again, the Marlins had the lowest payroll in the majors this season: $35 million.

   His reply: "I don't think so. We've never used payroll as an excuse. We look at those trades the last week of spring training for Gload and Paulino. They didn't cost a lot of money and they became very vital parts of this team. So I think there are ways to do it."

But look at the teams going to the playoffs and it's not hard to see that money talks. The Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Cardinals, Phillies and Dodgers all spend big bucks. Detroit, too, if they manage to get in.

    Gonzalez and his coaches aren't as bad off as the bloodied man I saw last night. But they can't be feeling too comfortable this morning as they hear the rumblings about Valentine and without knowing whether they'll return next season.

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