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Bobby Valentine, exiled ex-manager of the New York Mets and now the respected manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines, might be headed out of Japanese baseball and back to the United States, according to the Los Angeles Times.

And success, or failure, has nothing to do with it. Valentine, who makes $3.9 million a year, might have priced himself out of the market.

According to the Times, Marines management told Valentine during the winter that the club would not be able to afford him after the 2009 season, regardless of how many games his team wins. This has led to uncharacteristic fan protests at Marines games and a keep-Bobby petition with more than 50,000 signatures.

After one recent game, about 150 fans remained in the right-field bleachers, standing in silence, with banners raised over their heads. The signs, some as wide as 70 feet, carried such messages as, "We would rather fight with Bobby, who says we're the world's best fans, than with a front office who calls us worthless."

Another sign read, "Bobby stands behind us. We stand behind Bobby."

Source: Los Angeles Times

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