Perhaps inspired by the Orioles’ new policy of sending their supertar players home early, Jack McKeon has sent cranky A.J. Burnett packing. The Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer and Barry Jackson report thatthe Florida skipper might not be around much longer, either.

Jack McKeon has decided his future, and most indications are it won’t involve returning as Marlins manager for the 2006 season.

Although McKeon has not yet met with team owner Jeffrey Loria, at least one member of the front office believes McKeon will not return as manager, a league source said.

Already, New York Yankees bench coach Joe Girardi has been mentioned internally as a likely Marlins target to replace McKeon.

McKeon, who guided the Marlins to a World Series title after taking over in May 2003, said he has made up his mind about his future with the club but wanted to wait until the season was over to announce his plans.

”When the proper time comes, I’m going to tell you,” McKeon said.

McKeon’s agreement with the team allows him to remain on the payroll as a consultant next season, assuming he does not return as manager.

The Marlins are one of the several teams expected to pursue Girardi, a former Cubs and Yankees catcher who is considered one of the game’s bright young managerial prospects, according to league sources.

Other candidates who will be available include Lou Piniella (who is leaving Tampa Bay), former Marlins manager Jim Leyland (who wants to return to managing) and ex-Mets skipper Davey Johnson (whose name was linked to the Marlins in a recent report in The Sporting News).