One way or the other, the manager will be THE story for the Marlins when they head to Puerto Rico early next week for a three-game "home" series against the Mets. If interim manager Edwin Rodriguez is still at the helm, he'll be managing on native soil. Rodriguez is the first Puerto Rico-born manager in the majors.
But if Bobby Valentine has the Marlins gig by then, he'll be taking on a familiar foe, returning to the majors as manager for the first time since being dumped by the Mets after the 2002 season. In an e-mail, Valentine said "I will be there this weekend" ("there" meaning South Florida) when asked when he planned to interview with the Marlins. So it would appear that Rodriguez will, at the very least, still be calling the shots through the San Diego series.
The Marlins face the Mets in San Juan on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Marlins president David Samson said the Marlins would like to have a permanent manager in place by the All-Star break that begins July 12. In the past, the Marlins have tended to move rapidly with managerial changes. Jack McKeon was in position to take over immediately when Jeff Torborg was fired in 2003, as was Fredi Gonzalez when Joe Girardi was given the boot after the '06 season. The only time the Marlins have taken their time conducting a search was before the Girardi hiring. But because that process took place after the '05 season, they had plenty of time to play with. Not so now with a mid-season move in which the aim is to quick-start the team.
"NO SOUR GRAPES" FOR PRESLEY...Jim Presley was mystified by his dismissal, saying his record for 4 1/2 seasons as Marlins hitting coach "speaks for itself." The Marlins, as Presley noted, didn't suffer from lack of offense during his time with the team. "If not for the offense, swinging the bats, we wouldn't have won some of those games this year," Presley said. "The offense was my responsibility and I think for the past 4 1/2 years, we were pretty good at it." Presley said when he was fired Wednesday morning in Baltimore, he asked "Did I not do a good job? Their answer was yes." But Presley stopped short of criticizing the organization. "I appreciated the opportunity." Since Presley took over as hitting coach in 2006, the Marlins have: ranked 8th in runs scored in '06 among NL teams, 6th in '07, 5th in '08, 5th in '09 and are 5th currently. Prior to Presley's arrival, the Marlins never finished higher than 8th in runs scored at any time during the decade, including the World Series year in 2003 when they ranked 8th with a lineup that featured Ivan Rodriguez, Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell, Juan Pierre, Luis Castillo and Miguel Cabrera (for half the season). "It's a numbers game and the numbers don't lie," Presley said. There's a good possibility that the Marlins axed Presley -- as well as bench coach Carlos Tosca -- to create vacancies that the new manager can fill with coaches of his own choosing. And since all of the team's other coaches were hired within the past year, the feeling within the organization could be that it would be unfair to get rid of the newcomers so quickly.