After quick ALCS exit, A's fire manager Macha

10/18/2006 - MLB Oakland Athletics

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Ken Macha was fired as manager of the
Oakland Athletics on Monday, two days after the AL West champions
were swept out of the playoffs by Detroit.

Macha had two years and $2.025 million left on his contract. The A's went 368-280
in his four seasons as manager, but have frustrated management and
their fans by failing to get into the World Series.

"I feel good about what we did here," Macha said in a phone
interview. "I went to the ballpark every day with the sole intent
of winning a baseball game for the Oakland A's, and we did a lot of
that. I have zero regrets."

Oakland won the West with a 93-69 record this year. After
sweeping Minnesota in three games in the first round of the
playoffs, the A's were eliminated by the Tigers in four straight in
the AL Championship Series.

"Not to fault either side, but I felt a disconnect on a lot of
levels," general manager Billy Beane said. "Once again, it's not
to point the finger at Ken or anything like that. But that
disconnect was there and it was something we needed to address as
soon as possible."

The Athletics did not announce a replacement, but bench coach
Bob Geren is considered a top candidate to be Macha's successor.

The San Francisco Chronicle, citing team sources, reported earlier Monday that Macha's job was in jeopardy due to his trouble communicating with his players and his "callous attitude" toward injured players.

"The end of the year is the time for evaluation, not only players, but staff as well," A's general manager Billy Beane told the Chronicle. "It's a matter of routine this time of year."

Macha's relationships with a number of players have been the source of Bay Area stories for several seasons. Macha almost didn't return to the A's after last season, but was later rehired.

"For the last two years, our relationship has deteriorated to nothing," back-up catcher Adam Melhuse said, according to the Chronicle. "He didn't even speak to me for well over the last month. For me, as a backup, all I want is communication. Every other coach, I get along with great, but with Macha, it is not an exaggeration to say he doesn't speak to me -- not 'Hi,' not anything.

"It's tough to go to work every day knowing you're working for someone who doesn't think much of you as a player and on top of that, doesn't even acknowledge you."

Earlier this season, Macha refered to disabled players Joe Kennedy and Rich Harden as "non-entities."

During the playoffs, he responded to an injury to second baseman Mark Ellis' broken finger with: "It's part of the game. A lot of people get hurt."

"Mach's a good guy," Harden said Monday. "I hope he ends up
somewhere and gets a job."

First baseman Nick Swisher heard the news when he arrived at the
Coliseum to clean out his locker. Macha met briefly with Beane on
Monday morning.

"It happens," Swisher said. "As a team and as players, we
move on. You just hope he ends up finding another job somewhere."

"I'm really shocked by this," said Cardinals manager Tony La
Russa, who managed in Oakland from 1986-95. "I just look at the
season they had. ... Well, they had such a great second half. [If]
there was friction, how did they beat Minnesota?"

The A's became the sixth major league team to let its manager go
since the final days of the season. Dusty Baker (Chicago Cubs), Joe
Girardi (Florida), Felipe Alou (San Francisco), Frank Robinson
(Washington) and Buck Showalter (Texas) are not coming back next

Macha went through a topsy-turvy October last year, too, during
which he briefly was out as manager.

Right after missing the postseason for a second straight season
in 2005, the A's failed to reach agreement with Macha on a new
deal. The Athletics cut ties with him and Beane announced there
would be no further negotiations.

At the time, Macha called it one of the "massive
disappointments" during his seven years in the organization. The
A's interviewed other candidates for the job and Macha talked to
Pittsburgh about its managerial vacancy.

But about a week after being let go, the A's rehired Macha and
gave him a three-year contract.

Beane said he didn't regret rehiring Macha last year.

"No, I think you can only take a decision out of the context of
when it was made," Beane said. "So that was the right decision at
that point and we feel this is the right decision at this point."

Geren interviewed for the manager's job last fall during the
time Macha was away from the club. The A's promoted Geren this
season from bullpen coach.

All along, Macha realized he might be working alongside his

Third-base coach Ron Washington also could be in the mix, as he
also met with Beane about the job in 2005. Washington is scheduled
to interview with Texas soon about its managerial job.

Macha joined the A's as their bench coach in 1999. He became
their manager in 2003 and led them to the AL West title in his
first year, and followed that with a pair of second-place finishes
before winning the division again this season.

His assistants were still awaiting their fate Monday -- sitting
together in the coaches' office before going to meet with Beane

"It's a very somber day," Washington said. "I don't know what
went on that materialized. He definitely had a successful year.
Success of the year probably didn't have to do with it, but stuff
that happened behind the scenes. You hate to see it. Macha will
land on his feet, though."

Inside the Coliseum, a bulldozer was already removing the
infield dirt to transform the venue into a football-only stadium
for the NFL's Oakland Raiders.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.