Fire away! 3 managers given the boot following disappointing seasons

By Ronald Blum, AP
Monday, October 4, 2010

A day after season, 3 big league managers fired

NEW YORK — The New York Mets, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh gave their managers the boot Monday, firing them after disappointing seasons with underperforming teams.

The mediocre Mets got rid of manager Jerry Manuel along with general manager Omar Minaya after the team’s fourth consecutive season in which the high-payroll team failed to make the playoffs.

Ken Macha was officially dismissed by the Brewers after consecutive losing seasons that following their 2008 postseason appearance as the NL wild card.

John Russell was booted by the penurious Pirates after 299 defeats in three seasons, which extended the woebegone franchise’s consecutive losing years to a major league record 18.

That raised the total of managers losing their jobs this year to eight.

“The bottom line is to win the games. If you don’t win games, they’re going to get somebody in there with a different voice and try to get the guys to listen to it,” Macha said. “When you get these jobs, it’s just a matter of time before there is a change.”

Hampered by injuries for the second straight year following a pair of late-season collapses, the Mets finished fourth in the NL East at 79-83, 18 games behind division-winning Philadelphia. That despite a $133 million opening-day payroll, baseball’s fifth-highest.

In Manuel’s first full season, the Mets were 70-92.

“The last four years have been the most painful to me,” Mets owner Fred Wilpon said.

Wilpon said he, son Jeff and team president Saul Katz are not capable of making baseball decisions and the new GM will have full autonomy. The Wilpons insisted Minaya had that autonomy, but agents and team officials throughout baseball have said that Jeff meddles in player-related business.

“Jeff’s responsibility is not to pick baseball players,” Fred said, while praising his son’s work.

Russell was given a stripped-down roster, then blamed for records of 67-95 in 2008, 62-99 in 2009 and 57-105 this season. The only other manager in the Pirates’ 124-season history with so many losses in so few seasons was Fred Haney, who was 163-299 from 1953-55.

Pittsburgh’s payroll was a big league-low $35 million at the start of the season.

“We asked John Russell and his staff to compete against some incredible odds,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “We’ve turned the club over in three years. I’m not shy about taking responsibility for the record. It’s not the manager’s record. The won-lost record at the major league level goes beyond just the manager.

The 60-year-old Macha was 157-167 in two losing seasons. He took over the Brewers without CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, who left as free agents.

“I just told him that we felt we didn’t win here, we didn’t meet our expectations and whether our expectations are realistic or not, that’s probably what we have to look at,” general manager Doug Melvin said. “I think he understood and then got in his car and headed home.”

In other moves:

—Cincinnati gave manager Dusty Baker a two-year contract extension through 2012 after the Reds reached the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.

—Arizona gave interim manager Kirk Gibson the permanent job, and said interim GM Jerry Dipoto will be vice president of scouting and player development under new GM Kevin Towers.

—Cleveland completed its front office transition by promoting GM Mark Shapiro to team president and promoting assistant GM Chris Antonetti to GM.

AP Sports Writers Colin Fly, Alan Robinson and Howie Rumberg contributed to this report.

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