Baseball notebook

Fed-up Mets fire Manuel, Minaya

Associated Press / October 5, 2010

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The Mets fired manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya yesterday, an expected shake-up of the big-spending ball club after its second straight losing season.

The Mets said a search is underway for a new GM, who will be consulted on the managerial hire.

“We are extremely disappointed in this year’s results and the failures of the past four seasons,’’ said chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon. “We need to hire a new general manager with a fresh perspective who will transform this club into a winner that we want and our fans deserve.’’

Manuel is the seventh manager this season to lose his job. The final guaranteed year of Manuel’s contract expired, and the Mets declined to exercise the club option on the deal.

The Mets were 79-83 this year, a disappointing 18 games behind Philadelphia in the NL East despite having an Opening Day payroll of $133 million that was the fifth-highest in the majors. They have not been to the playoffs since 2006.

“Changes like these are never easy, especially when you are dealing with people you like and respect,’’ Wilpon said.

Manuel was promoted from bench coach on an interim basis after the midnight firing of Willie Randolph in June 2008. The Mets then went 55-38 the rest of the way but missed the playoffs.

Still, Minaya was given a three-year contract extension through 2012 and Manuel a multiyear deal.

Minaya won’t be staying on in another capacity — as of now.

“We came to a mutual agreement that at some point in time we might discuss that,’’ he said.

Bobby Valentine, who led the Mets to the 2000 World Series, and Wally Backman, a second baseman on New York’s 1986 championship team, have been mentioned as potential replacements for Manuel.

Morneau’s year over
For the second straight postseason, the Twins will be without Justin Morneau.

The first baseman hasn’t played since July 7 because of post-concussion symptoms. Morneau has begun to improve and hasn’t had any recent setbacks, but general manager Bill Smith said there’s not enough time for him to return to full strength.

“I think he understands it’s the right decision for his health and for his long-term career,’’ Smith said.

The Twins expect Morneau to join the team for the start of spring training.

Rays name rotation
The Rays set their pitching rotation for the Division Series against the Rangers, with 19-game winner David Price getting the ball in Game 1 tomorrow opposite Cliff Lee at Tropicana Field. James Shields will start Game 2 Thursday, Matt Garza will pitch Game 3 Saturday, and if Game 4 is necessary Sunday, rookie Wade Davis will get the start . . . Major League Baseball approved a change in the grounds rules for Tropicana Field that affects fly balls that strike the upper two catwalks in the domed stadium. Instead of being in play, a batted ball that caroms off the A- and B-ring catwalks that support the stadium roof will be ruled a dead ball and the pitch will not count. Balls that strike the two lower catwalks in fair territory will continue to be home runs.

Staying and leaving
The Reds announced a two-year contract extension for manager Dusty Baker, a reward for the team’s first playoff appearance in 15 years. Baker is in the final season of his original three-year deal. Baker’s coaching staff also was offered two-year extensions. “I think we got here sooner than a lot of people thought — to the playoffs,’’ general manager Walt Jocketty said. “I think a lot of it is due to Dusty’s leadership.’’ . . . Hired as interim manager of the Diamondbacks after a midseason shake-up, Kirk Gibson was given the permanent job, signing a two-year deal with a team option for 2013. Interim general manager Jerry Dipoto also will remain with the club as vice president of scouting and player development, and first base coach Matt Williams and bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock are the only holdovers on Gibson’s staff . . . The Pirates fired manager John Russell, who matched the team record for most losses by a manager over three seasons. Pittsburgh was a major league-worst 57-105 this year, dropping Russell’s career record to 186-299 . . . The Brewers confirmed their decision not to exercise the club option on manager Ken Macha’s contract. Macha was 157-167 in two seasons.

Indians shift power
The Indians completed their season-long transition in the front office, with Mark Shapiro, Cleveland’s general manager since 2001, becoming team president and assistant GM Chris Antonetti filling Shapiro’s job after taking on more of an active role this year. Mike Chernoff was promoted to assistant GM . . . Dodgers GM Ned Colletti doesn’t know how much money he can spend to improve the debt-riddled team in 2011, but he doesn’t expect major upheaval of the roster. Colletti said the Dodgers will have a budget that will allow them to compete, but owner Frank McCourt has yet to let him know how much it is. New manager Don Mattingly has yet to name his coaching staff, although veteran bench coach Bob Schaefer reportedly won’t return . . . The Astros exercised a $900,000 club option on outfielder Jason Michaels, and declined the 2011 option on infielder Geoff Blum . . . Astros reliever Jeff Fulchino had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow.

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