Beane bounces Macha as A's manager
Ken Macha will walk away from the Oakland Athletics after seven years with fresh memories of another winning season, despite a young and injury-depleted lineup.
He hopes potential employers appreciate that, too.
Macha was out of a job as A's manager Wednesday after failing to reach an agreement on a new contract, which he called one of several "massive disappointments" in his tenure.
IN: Jim Leyland
IN: Joe Girardi
IN: Ken Macha
IN: Jim Tracy
"Who knows how the rest of baseball views you?" Macha said hours after general manager Billy Beane announced there would be no further negotiations to keep the third-year skipper.
"I can go home and sleep and know that we used tremendous character to get through this season," Macha said.
Macha led the A's to the AL West title in his first year as manager in 2003, the club's fourth straight playoff berth. But Oakland failed to reach the postseason the past two years despite a 91-win season in 2004 and 88 victories this year.
"We offered a three-year deal with a club option and they countered with a three-year deal without a club option," Beane said on a conference call. "I don't think we were ever going to be able to bridge the gap. It was a significant gap."
The option would have allowed the A's to decide whether to keep Macha after three seasons.
"There are no hard feelings whatsoever," Beane said. "This is part of the business."
Macha had said he hoped to return to the A's, but declined to discuss specifics of the team's offer, saying money matters are strictly personal. His agent, Alan Nero, told The Associated Press he received an offer from Beane on Monday, then offered two different counter proposals, the second of which brought the sides much closer.
"We were significantly apart," Nero said in a telephone interview. "Then I made a proposal and we were very close. Billy declined to make another proposal because he felt Kenny wouldn't be happy."
Nero called it a "sad day" for Macha, the fans and the players. "It was an amicable separation and it's time for everybody to move on."
Nero said he spoke Wednesday to Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield about the managerial vacancy in Pittsburgh, where Macha lives. The Florida Marlins are also interested in the 55-year-old, Nero said.
Macha hopes teams will take into account how the A's performed with such a young roster. Four rookies played huge roles.
"Hopefully something will work out," Macha said. "You have experiences, and that was a growing experience."
The A's seemed out of it in May when they had two eight-game losing streaks and finished the month with a 7-20 record. Oakland rebounded with another strong second half, overcoming injuries to key players, including shortstop Bobby Crosby and No. 2 starter Rich Harden.
Macha's departure didn't catch players by surprise. Center fielder Mark Kotsay hopes Macha gets a chance with another club.
"I know contract offers were exchanged, and they probably couldn't foresee themselves coming to terms," Kotsay said in a phone interview. "I think he definitely had a respect for the players and allowed us to handle ourselves as professionals. He was just a good guy."
Macha was 275-211 in three seasons with the A's. He came to Oakland in 1999 following four seasons as a manager in Boston's farm system. He was promoted from bench coach when Art Howe left for the New York Mets following the 2002 season.
Beane said the sides had exchanged proposals this past weekend because both parties wanted to come to a resolution quickly, leaving Macha time to explore other openings.
"This whole issue didn't sneak up on us," Beane said. "It's disappointing we couldn't come to a conclusion that was satisfactory."
Beane said he would work to form a list of candidates to replace Macha, and didn't say whether members of the existing A's coaching staff would be considered.
On Monday, the A's announced hitting coach Dave Hudgens' contract would not be renewed.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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