I don’t normally profile the manager, but normally the manager has been the same guy every year. Hence, the new guy:
Fredi Gonzalez was born in Cuba in 1964, but grew up in Miami. He was a 16th-round draft pick of the Yankees in 1984, a catcher; he played six seasons, mostly in A-ball, and had a career .199 batting average, which convinced him that he should probably try some other career track. He fell in with a bad crowd (the University of Tennessee) where he served as an assistant coach for a couple of years, then took a job as the manager of Mike Veeck’s independent league Miami Miracle.
With the Marlins organization starting up in 1992, he took a job as the manager of their team in the New York-Penn League. He moved up the system, to the California League in 1993 (winning the league championship), the Florida State League in 1994, the Eastern League in 1997, and finally the International League in 1998. He moved up to the majors as a coach for the next three seasons.
The Braves hired him to manage Richmond in 2002. The next season, he succeeded Ned Yost as Braves third base coach, a stepping stone to a major league managing job. After four seasons, the Marlins brought him back as major league manager.
He didn’t get off to a good start, going 71-91 in 2007, but the next year the Marlins finished third, going 84-77. They improved by three games in 2009 and finished second. But the front office or ownership evidently saw a lack of progress, and fired him in midseason of last year with a 34-36 record. The Braves never really considered anyone else to succeed Bobby Cox.
You probably shouldn’t expect much of a tactical change from the new manager. Taking 2009 stats, since it’s his last full season… His Marlins bunted an average amount, or at least were successful an average amount (NL average was 71, they had 70 sacrifice hits; the Braves bunted 95 times). He issued far too many intentional walks, 60 times, tied for second in the league. (The Braves bunted 59 times.) Gonzalez used a high number of relievers with the Marlins, more (530) in 2009 than anyone in the league. Some of that may be an issue of what players he had; the Marlins had young starting pitching (of six pitchers who started 16 or more games, none was older than 26) and that tends to pressure the bullpen. He used a very set lineup; only Charlie Manuel (who didn’t have to worry a whole lot about playing matchups) used fewer lineup combinations in 2009. He mostly used his bench tactically, to pinch-run and pinch-hit (which he did an average amount) and as defensive substitions (which he did a lot).
It’s important not to confuse the effects of available talent with managerial preferences. Therefore, the Marlins’ notably poor middle infield defense (Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez must have played over 700 games together, surely the most by such a poor double-play combo in the last eighty years) is simply because that’s the team he was given. Giving Emilio Bonifacio 106 starts in 2009 may not have been his idea either… but Fredi must take the blame for 53 of those being in the leadoff spot and 42 in the two-hole. A fondness for fast guys who can’t hit may be in evidence there. That isn’t really a problem with the current Braves, as Wren has jettisoned the Gwinnett County Track Club of AAA lifer hitters that had built up in 2009.