July 10, 2009 - Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)
One team and manager flying under the radar of teams to watch in the MLB has got to be the Florida Marlins, and manager Fredi Gonzalez. Every year that Fredi has managed this team, which he is going into his third year, he has managed to give a gamely effort in the last three seasons. Fredi's record is 211-221 so far over these three seasons so far.
The Marlins haven't had any really great marquee players to work with in the past few seasons, so whatever Fredi Gonzalez is doing, is obviously working very well. If he had the proper personnel to manage, Gonzalez would be in contention for 'Manager of the Year' and this season is not over yet.
The Marlins seem to play 'fundamental' baseball very well. The team gets runners on base, and they are moved and scored using the fundamental methods that a lot of teams don't really execute well. Gonzalez replaced Joe Girardi, who was run out of Florida when he and the owner of the Marlins didn't get along so well. Recently the two met before a Marlins vs Yankees game and all has been forgotten, but now the Marlins are skippered by a guy who really has them playing well. Girardi did win manager of the year as the skipper of the Marlins but I think Gonzalez might soon be in line for this award if the Marlins can continue to win down the stretch run.
Gonzalez was born in Cuba in 1964 and moved to the US and grew up in South Florida. He was drafted by the New York Yankees in the amateur draft, he spent 6 years in the Yankees farm system but never went any further than AA ball. Freddie then worked in various organizations as an instructor and coach in different minor league capacities. He then landed a job as a coach on the Braves staff, and then worked his way into the Marlins organization.