Melvin fired by Mariners after two seasons

Posted: Tuesday, October 05, 2004

SEATTLE -- Bob Melvin is out as manager of the Seattle Mariners. If there's a bright side, he's sure getting a glowing performance review from the guy who let him go.

Melvin was fired Monday, a day after Seattle ended its worst season in 12 years with its 99th loss. He lasted two seasons, getting the news during a congenial but difficult meeting with general manager Bill Bavasi.

''There is a point where you shed a tear,'' Bavasi said. ''It's really difficult. It is awful.''

The GM said the decision ''crystalized in my mind'' over the past five or six days, and that team chairman Howard Lincoln and president Chuck Armstrong supported the move. However, Bavasi refused to explain the reasons.

''I shared those with Bob. It was a real private conversation,'' he said.

Melvin, who led the Mariners to a 93-69 record in 2003 after Lou Piniella left for Tampa Bay, wasn't available for comment.

He indicated to reporters Sunday that he still wanted to manage the Mariners, but Melvin might get another chance elsewhere.

Bavasi said he called an undisclosed club to suggest Melvin be considered for a managerial vacancy. During a lengthy news conference, Bavasi spoke highly of Melvin and insisted the Seattle organization liked him.

''To the untrained eye, I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth,'' Bavasi said. ''We just let him go, but I'm recommending him. In this crazy business, that fits because he will do things differently the second time. He had some bad luck here.''

Bavasi insisted there were no relationship or communications issues with Melvin, and he acknowledged that Melvin probably didn't have enough talent on the field to win this season.

He said team officials recognized holes in their aging lineup as early as March. They privately predicted other AL West teams would need to slip for the Mariners to be competitive.

Bavasi emphasized that the front office wasn't assigning sole responsibility for the rough season to Melvin, saying there was plenty of blame available and listing the front office, scouts, the manager and the players.

''I have absolutely nothing negative to say about Bob,'' said Bavasi. ''He's a real good man. He works hard. He cares about his players.''

The Mariners made the decision even after exercising Melvin's contract option for the 2005 season in May, after Seattle started 9-16.

''We felt it was the right thing to do for Bob at the time,'' Bavasi said. ''These jobs have so little security. In the grand scheme, a little financial security going forward was the right thing.''

Bavasi had no timetable for hiring a successor, nor would he say what the front office wants in the next manager. He refused to discuss names, saying only that he hopes to work quickly.

''We'll probably target somebody, go after them, and go from there,'' he said.

Blue Jays name Gibbons manager

TORONTO -- John Gibbons will return as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays next season.

Gibbons was given a one-year contract Monday after guiding the last-place Blue Jays to a 20-30 record during the final eight weeks of the season. He took over as interim manager on Aug. 8, when Carlos Tosca was fired after the team opened 47-64.

General manager J.P. Ricciardi liked Gibbons' upbeat attitude and how he handled the bullpen.

''We're just going to see. Hopefully, as things go forward we'll extend it,'' Ricciardi said of Gibbons' contract.

The 42-year-old Gibbons had been the Blue Jays' first-base coach since Tosca took over from Buck Martinez on June 3, 2002.

Gibbons, a former catcher who had 50 career at-bats spanning 18 games with the New York Mets in 1984, '86 and '87, spent seven seasons as a minor league manager with the Mets, working his way up to Triple-A Norfolk. He compiled a 482-420 record in the minors, then joined Toronto as its bullpen catcher in 2002.

''I've been called a players' manager. I guess you could say I am,'' Gibbons said. ''I understand the struggles of the game as a player.''

One of his minor league teammates was Ricciardi, who is modeling the Blue Jays after his previous employer -- the small-market Oakland Athletics.

Toronto finished 67-94, its most losses since 1980 (67-95).

Also on Monday, former Blue Jays catcher Ernie Whitt was hired as the new bench coach and Brad Arnsberg as pitching coach. Arnsberg previously served as pitching coach for the Florida Marlins and Montreal Expos.

The Blue Jays fired pitching coach Gil Patterson and first-base coach Joe Breeden last week.



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