McCourt says 'high expectations were not met'
So is Paul DePodesta.
The Dodgers on Friday told Triple-A manager Jerry Royster, Giants bench coach Ron Wotus and Indians minor league manager Torey Lovullo that they were no longer candidates to replace Jim Tracy.
The remaining candidates apparently are Rangers pitching coach and former Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser, Dodgers farm director Terry Collins, and former Detroit Tigers manager Alan Trammell.
The team also has contacted Bobby Valentine, who managed the Chiba Lotte Marines to the Japan Series championship this year.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' general manager was the latest out the door of Dodger Stadium, fired by owner Frank McCourt on Saturday after two tumultuous years of strange trades, suspect signings -- and 91 losses this season.
"Our high expectations were not met," McCourt said at an afternoon news conference at Dodger Stadium. "I like Paul. He has many positive attributes. It was difficult, but at the end of the day, that's my job, to make difficult decisions."
Saying the team needs a strong foundation, McCourt listed among his criteria for a new GM the ability to evaluate player talent, communication skills, and experience.
He set no timetable for hiring either a GM or a manager to replace Tracy, but did say that process will be on hold until a GM is in place.
McCourt hired DePodesta after buying the team in January 2004 from News Corp. The Dodgers won the NL West title in his first season, but DePodesta riled fans by trading popular catcher Lo Duca and two other players at midseason.
"I met with Paul DePodesta this morning and let him know that the Los Angeles Dodgers were moving on," McCourt said. "I thanked him for his contributions."
DePodesta shook up the team last winter following the division championship season, and their 71-91 record this year was the Dodgers' worst since 1992 and second-poorest since moving to Los Angeles in 1958.
"I truly believe that this franchise is poised to begin the next great era of Dodger baseball," DePodesta said in a statement released by the Dodgers. "I have a tremendous amount of affection for the players, staff and front office, and I wish everyone the best of luck."
The team has been without a manager since Oct. 3, when the Dodgers and Tracy agreed to cut ties. Tracy was hired eight days later to manage the Pittsburgh Pirates.
DePodesta as late as last week was interviewing candidates for the manager's job. According to The Los Angeles Times, in a sign of pending trouble, former Dodgers star pitcher Orel Hershiser met with McCourt and adviser Tommy Lasorda, but not DePodesta, to discuss the opening.
Asked via e-mail to respond to reports that he might be tapped to manage the Dodgers, Bobby Valentine declined comment to ESPN.
As late as last week, DePodesta was conducting interviews for the manager's job. The leading candidates are believed to be former Houston Astros and Anaheim Angels manager Terry Collins, currently the Dodgers' director of player development; former Dodgers star pitcher Orel Hershisher, pitching coach for the Texas Rangers; and Alan Trammell, fired as manager of the Detroit Tigers earlier this month.
"The Dodgers are at a crossroads here," McCourt said. "I'm very mindful of this historic franchise's tradition of greatness."
Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, now a special adviser to McCourt, said he was not interested in being either the GM or returning as manager.
"Why? Go ask my wife, she'll tell you," said Lasorda, adding that the job requires a younger person who can devote many hours to those jobs.
Lasorda, whose influence seems to have increased steadily with McCourt, said he will sit in on interviews for the GM opening.
"He (McCourt) asks me questions and I give him answers," Lasorda said. "He doesn't listen to me all the time."
The Dodgers began the 2005 season with a 12-2 mark, but losses and injuries soon mounted. DePodesta had cut loose Alex Cora, Steve Finley and Jose Lima in addition to Lo Duca, Green and Beltre. All were key players in the division title run the previous year.
Jeff Kent was brought in to play second base and had a solid year, but other newcomers didn't perform well, such as J.D. Drew, Jose Valentin and Derek Lowe, along with holdover Odalis Perez, who was signed to a three-year contract.
Eric Gagne, baseball's best closer the previous three seasons, had season-ending elbow surgery in June and outfielder Milton Bradley's season ended in August due to injury.
DePodesta graduated cum laude in 1995 with an economics degree from Harvard, where he played baseball and football for the Crimson.
He had been an assistant to Oakland GM Billy Beane since 1998 when he was hired by McCourt at age 31. DePodesta worked for the Cleveland Indians for three years before joining the A's.
Beane, under tight payroll restrictions in Oakland, led the revolutionary change in player evaluation that valued statistics over gut instincts. Author Michael Lewis wrote the 2003 bestseller "Moneyball" about Beane's approach to the game, which was adapted by DePodesta.
The technique has been criticized for underestimating the importance of team chemistry.
DePodesta signed loners Kent and Drew in the offseason and there was an ugly clubhouse feud in August between Kent and Bradley.
Bradley, who is black, accused Kent of a lack of leadership and an inability to deal with black players.
When McCourt picked him, DePodesta became the third-youngest to be hired as a big-league GM. He succeeded Dan Evans, who had a year remaining on his three-year contract.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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