Wednesday, October 02, 2002
Mets, Rangers fire managers
The Associated Press
NEW YORK - For Bobby Valentine and Jerry Narron, last place meant no more last chances. Two more managers paid the price Tuesday for disappointing seasons as the New York Mets and Texas Rangers decided to change direction.
That brought to five the number of managers dismissed since Sunday, the last day of the season. The Chicago Cubs fired Bruce Kimm that day while Detroit let go Luis Pujols and Tampa Bay dropped Hal McRae on Monday. In each case, no replacement was named.
The rapid rate of firings was not unprecedented. In 1999, there were seven managerial changes.
Valentine sensed he was in trouble during a 12-game losing streak and a National League-record 15-game home losing streak that doomed the Mets' season. Owner Fred Wilpon repeatedly said both the manager and general manager Steve Phillips would be back next season for the final year of their contracts.
Valentine noted the endorsement and observed that the boss could always change his mind.
Wilpon did just that - at least half of it.
The owner fired Valentine, two days after the dreary Mets finished in last place and two years after they played in the World Series. Phillips survived, largely because Wilpon thought the Mets' problems were on the field, not the front office.
We put very good players in place who didn't play very well, Wilpon said. I believe the guys are as good as we all thought, a very competitive team. I still believe it's a very competitive team. I think they'll play far, far better next year.
Valentine was gone after a 75-86 season and the team's first basement finish since 1993. It was also the Mets' first sub-.500 record in six years, all of them with Valentine at the helm.
Phillips, the architect of a $95 million reconstructed roster of high-profile players who underachieved, survived because Wilpon thought his moves were good ones, even if they didn't work.
Narron's Rangers were worse than the Mets, finishing 72-90 and in last place for the third straight season. He had one year left on his contract.
This has been a very difficult decision because I like and respect Jerry Narron, Texas general manager John Hart said. But we have to make some tough decisions now. Our fans deserve better than the record and performance of the 2002 Texas Rangers.
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