Cubs president MacPhail resigns after 12 years

Updated: October 1, 2006, 9:24 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- An emotional Andy MacPhail resigned Sunday as president and CEO of the Chicago Cubs after failing to get the team to the World Series during his 12-year tenure.

"This is the first thing I've ever done in baseball that I didn't have a high level of success at," MacPhail said, his voice cracking.

"The clock on the MacPhail o-meter has run down to zero."
-- Andy McPhail on his resignation as Cubs president

The Cubs have made just two playoff appearances since MacPhail joined them in 1994 after he spent nine years with the Minnesota Twins, leading them to two World Series titles. Chicago finished its season Sunday at 66-96, the worst record in the NL.

"The clock on the MacPhail o-meter has run down to zero," said MacPhail, who told reporters he broached the subject of resigning during a team review with Tribune Co. executives in midseason. "It's not just that we had a terrible season. I've been here 12 seasons and only two postseason [appearances] and to me that's not what I came here to do. Obviously, I've not been as effective as I wanted to be."

Marketing vice president John McDonough will take over the club's day-to-day operation on an interim basis. MacPhail will stay on through the transition and do his work for the major league baseball negotiating committee.

MacPhail's grandfather and father were longtime baseball executives, and both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I've been in the business my entire life. I was born to it," MacPhail said. "I've done just about everything imaginable in it from selling program space in Midland, Texas, to scouting in the Midwest League, to being a GM, a president, negotiating a collective bargaining agreement.

"There is one rule that applies to everything. You've got to win and if you don't win, it's subject to change."

Since MacPhail took over, the Cubs won the NL wild card in 1998 and the NL Central in 2003, when they fell five outs short of making the World Series.

The Cubs, who had a payroll of approximately $95 million this season, haven't been to the World Series since 1945. They haven't won one since 1908.

"This is a baseball decision. It's an issue of making sure our fans know that we are committed to winning," said Tribune Co. chairman, president and CEO Dennis Fitzsimons, adding his company has no plans to sell the Cubs. "Andy MacPhail has been committed to winning. For whatever reasons, it didn't work out. ... Andy said it best, we both felt we needed a change."

MacPhail couldn't repeat his baseball success from Minnesota despite a bigger payroll with a big-market team whose shrine-like home field is nearly always sold out or close to it. MacPhail was instrumental in a bleacher expansion project for Wrigley Field that was completed for the 2006 season.

Injuries played a big role the last several years, especially to the pitching staff, most notably Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. And 2005 NL batting champion Derrek Lee played in only 50 games this season after breaking his wrist and then attending to his daughter's health issues.

"Too much payroll has been sitting on the sideline. Nobody's fault," MacPhail said. "There has been too much of it and it hasn't been able to be applied on the field. Nothing in the way of excuses, just fact."

But poor play was also a part of his tenure and MacPhail acknowledged that while the Cubs had done a good job of developing pitchers, they hadn't done so with position players.

MacPhail also served as general manager of the Cubs from July 19, 2000, to July 4, 2002.

"What is most frustrating to me is the lack of consistency," he said.

His grandfather, Larry MacPhail, won an NL championship as owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941 and the World Series as owner of the New York Yankees in 1947.

Andy MacPhail is the son of longtime baseball executive Lee MacPhail, a former president of the AL.

Cubs manager Dusty Baker's future is next. He'll meet Monday with GM Jim Hendry.

"The hard part is that we didn't get it done on the field and it affects everybody," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said.

McDonough said his goal is to win a World Series as soon as possible.

"My approach is to be aggressive. I do know what I don't know. I think I ask very good questions," he said.

And if the Cubs continue to founder, he'll be answering plenty, as well.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press