Jim Leyland's predecessor is now his replacement, as vice president of player development John Boles was named the new manager of the Florida Marlins on Friday.
Moving quickly to supplant Leyland, who stepped down on Thursday with three years and $4.5 million left on his original five-year contract, general manager Dave Dombrowski did not have to look far.
Boles has been with the team since its inception, beginning as the director of player development in 1991 and assuming the vice president position on July 28, 1995. He had held the same position with the Montreal Expos under Dombrowski prior to joining the Marlins.
The 50-year-old was the club's second manager on July 7th, 1996 when Rene Lachemann was fired with a 40-47 record. Boles guided Florida to a 40-35 mark the rest of the season and Leyland was hired in the off-season.
Boles began his professional career in 1981 as a minor-league manager in the Chicago White Sox system and was named Class A Manager of the Year two years later. He moved to Kansas City's Triple-A affiliate in 1986 and was promoted to Royals director of player development later that year.
Leyland exercised a $500,000 out clause on Thursday after his world championship team was dismantled by ownership in a shameless salary purge.
Leyland led the Marlins to the 1997 World Series title as the wild card, but then had to watch helplessly as most of the talent on that team was traded away in order to cut costs. As a result, Florida went from 92-70 in 1997 to just 54-108 this year, the worst in baseball and by far the worst season by a defending champion.
The Marlins are on the verge of being sold to commodities trader John Henry, who has offered $150 million to purchase the franchise from Wayne Huizenga.
Henry told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel he would be willing to raise the payroll to the $20 million range next season by retaining key players such as Cliff Floyd and Edgar Renteria and signing two free-agent pitchers. The payroll dipped to the $7 million range this season, lowest in the majors.
Huizenga, who also owns the NFL's Miami Dolphins, the NHL's Florida Panthers and Blockbuster Entertainment, claims to have lost more than $30 million after committing $89 million on free agents like Moises Alou, Alex Fernandez and Bobby Bonilla prior to the 1997 season.
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved