Perlozzo out as skipper; MacPhail hired as COO

Updated: June 18, 2007, 8:58 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BALTIMORE -- Sam Perlozzo was fired as manager of the Orioles on Monday, the result of his inability to bring last-place Baltimore out of a lengthy funk culminated by an eight-game losing streak.

Bullpen coach Dave Trembley will be the interim manager when the Orioles begin a six-game trip in San Diego on Tuesday. One of the leading candidates to fill the position on a full-time basis is former Florida Marlins manager Joe Girardi, voted NL manager of the year in 2006 before being fired after a dispute with ownership.

Sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that Baltimore has arranged a Tuesday meeting Girardi to discuss the job. It is expected that he will be given a chance to accept or reject the job.

When asked by Michael Kay on 1050 ESPN Radio whether he will interview for the Orioles job Tuesday, Girardi said: "I'm not going to comment."

Meanwhile, the same sources said Andy MacPhail has reached an agreement to be the Orioles' chief operating officer, a job left vacant since Joe Foss resigned earlier this year.

MacPhail and Girardi overlapped in Chicago during MacPhail's tenure as Cubs president and CEO of the Chicago Cubs, which began in 1994 and ended in 2006. Girardi was a Cub for two stints totaling six seasons, the last from 2000-02.

MacPhail won two World Series championships as general manager of the Minnesota Twins in 1987 and 1991.

Perlozzo was victimized by an underachieving bullpen and an unproductive offense that ranks last in the AL in home runs. Baltimore was 27-27 and second in the AL East on May 31 before losing 13 of 15 in June, including the last eight games of a 1-8 homestand that ended Sunday.

"We felt Sam was prepared, we felt the club was prepared to do battle every night," executive vice president Mike Flanagan said in a news conference. "For whatever reason, it just wasn't working."

Baltimore's 29-40 record is the fifth-worst in the major leagues. The Orioles started the day trailing first-place Boston by 15½ games in the AL East.

Perlozzo joined Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove and Lee Mazzilli as Baltimore managers since Davey Johnson in 1997 who have failed to have a winning season.

"It's always based on results," Flanagan said. "It really gets down to wins and losses and expectations, and believing that this club is better than it looked."

Perlozzo became the first major league manager to be fired this year.

The 56-year-old Perlozzo was told of the decision during a 20-minute discussion Monday with Flanagan and vice president Jim Duquette. Perlozzo did not return several phone calls in the wake of the dismissal.

"As you might imagine, today has been a very difficult one for me and my family," Perlozzo said in a statement. "I am very disappointed that I will no longer be managing the Orioles. That being said, I wish them nothing but the best. I have been with the team for 12 seasons and I consider myself an Oriole. I believe that I have represented the club well during my time with them and I hope that the fans believe that, too."

Orioles shaking things up?

If you're looking to assign blame in Baltimore, don't forget the "improved" 'pen. And, Rob Neyer wants to know, how could the O's be this bad -- twice now -- under pitching coach Leo Mazzone? Blog Insider

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Trembley, 55, spent the last four of his 20 years as minor league manager in the Baltimore organization. He served as bench coach on occasion this season while Tom Trebelhorn returned to Arizona to tend to his ailing wife.

"We think Dave deserves a chance," Flanagan said.

The coaching staff will remain intact. Pitching coach Leo Mazzone, who joined the Orioles last year because of his tight friendship with Perlozzo, will continue his effort to right a with a 4.27 ERA and a league-leading 276 walks.

"Leo expressed disappointment, but at the same time believes in this pitching staff and is excited to see it go forward," Flanagan said. "He feels like we can turn this around."

After Sunday's 6-4 loss to Arizona on Sunday, there was talk in the clubhouse of Perlozzo's imminent dismissal. Several players publicly defended him, including Kevin Millar, who called for a players-only meeting in San Diego on Tuesday.

"Sam Perlozzo doesn't throw the ball and doesn't catch the ball. We know that for sure, right? He doesn't hit the ball," Millar said. "He doesn't play. We play. And we've got to find a way to play better."

Flanagan inferred that Millar's call for a team meeting was a factor in the team's decision to fire Perlozzo.

"Those are the sort of things that indicate that things aren't going well with the ballclub," Flanagan said.

Perlozzo is the second straight Baltimore manager to be fired in midseason. He took over on an interim basis after the Orioles dismissed Mazzilli on Aug. 4, 2005. After guiding Baltimore to a 23-32 record that season, Perlozzo signed a three-year contract in October 2005.

He finished 122-164, including 70-92 last season.

Perlozzo grew up in Cumberland, Md. and rooted for the Orioles during his childhood. Before being hired as manager, he spent 10 years on the team's coaching staff. He still has 1½ years left on his contract, and was invited to stay with the organization in a different capacity.

Flanagan said Perlozzo wanted some time to consider the offer.

Perlozzo began the season hopeful of ending a franchise-record run of nine straight losing seasons. The team spent $42 million to overhaul the bullpen, signed free agent hitters Aubrey Huff and Jay Payton, and added Jaret Wright and Steve Trachsel to the rotation.

The additions did not provide the desired results.

Danys Baez, who signed a $19 million, three-year contract, lost his job as setup man and was 0-4 with a 6.52 ERA before going on the 15-day disabled list Saturday. In all, Orioles relievers were 0-5 with a 6.00 ERA during the homestand.

Huff and Payton have been adequate, but the offense is batting .260 with a mere 50 homers in 69 games.

Wright was removed from the rotation in April with shoulder stiffness and could be lost for the year, and Adam Loewen underwent season-ending elbow surgery last week.

"We do feel like we have a very good team, we do feel like we have a very good organization," Flanagan insisted. "We've changed a lot of things in the last three or four years to head in the right direction. And we still feel that way about the organization in spite of what happened today. We believe that everything else in place is working well."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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