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McCourt says 'high expectations were not met'

10/30/2005 - Los Angeles Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Jim Tracy, Paul Lo Duca, Shawn Green and Adrian Beltre are gone.

So is Paul DePodesta.

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.