NEW YORK Willie Randolph was hired Wednesday night by the New York Mets, taking over as manager of a troubled team trying to compete with its crosstown rival for success, free agents and fans.
A six-time All-Star who was a coach with the New York Yankees for the past 11 years, Randolph replaces Art Howe, fired at the end of the season. The Mets called a Thursday news conference to introduce Randolph at Shea Stadium.
Randolph met earlier Wednesday with new general manager Omar Minaya, who also had second interviews with the other finalists, Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and former Houston and Anaheim manager Terry Collins.
Randolph was a standout second baseman who spent 13 seasons with the Yankees, serving as co-captain and winning Word Series titles as a player in 1977 and 1978, plus four more as a coach. He also played for Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Oakland and Milwaukee before finishing his career with the Mets in 1992.
He said last month he had interviewed unsuccessfully in the past for 11 or 12 managerial openings.
''I thought it was very beneficial to have this second round,'' Minaya said late in the afternoon, before the deal was finalized. ''It gives me a better feel for the decision I have to make.''
At that time, he wouldn't say who the front-runner was, but his description of what he wanted fit Randolph perfectly.
''I'm looking for a person, a manager, that's going to have good work ethics, going to communicate with the players, communicate with the front office on a daily basis,'' Minaya said. ''I'm looking for a manager that's going to be able to delegate to the staff. I'm looking for a manager that's going to interact with the community.''
Minaya's new manager will have a year-round job, talking frequently with the minor league staff and farm director and visiting instructional and winter leagues during the offseason. The 50-year-old Randolph moved to bench coach under Joe Torre last season after 10 years coaching third base for the Yankees.
''I'm looking for a guy at the end of the day that has leadership qualities,'' Minaya said.
Phillies to hire Manuel
PHILADELPHIA Charlie Manuel will be the next manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, replacing the fired Larry Bowa, baseball officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.
Manuel will be introduced at a news conference Thursday, one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Two other sources also said Manuel was the team's choice.
Manuel's hiring was first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The 60-year-old Manuel managed the Cleveland Indians from 2000-02. He takes over a talented but underachieving club that hasn't reached the playoffs since 1993.
Phillies general manager Ed Wade didn't immediately return a phone message Wednesday night.
Manuel spent the last two seasons working as a special assistant to Wade. He was the second of eight candidates interviewed by the Phillies after Bowa was fired with two games remaining in a disappointing season in which the Phillies finished 10 games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East.
Manuel, Jim Leyland and Jim Fregosi were the three finalists for the job, according to one of the sources. Fregosi managed the Phillies to the NL pennant 11 years ago. Leyland led Florida to its first World Series championship and guided Pittsburgh to three division titles in the '90s.
Manuel had a 220-190 record with the Indians and led them to the AL Central championship in 2001, but was fired after a 39-47 start in 2002.
Garner will remain manager of the Astros
HOUSTON The interim tag is no longer necessary. Phil Garner will remain the manager of the Houston Astros.
In a move that was expected for weeks, Garner was retained by the Astros on Wednesday, two days after Tim Purpura replaced Gerry Hunsicker as general manager.
''I feel real good about this. I feel very comfortable here and with Tim,'' he said. ''I think this is a good fit for me.''
Garner, 55, took over on an interim basis after Jimy Williams was fired during the All-Star break and guided the Astros within a victory of their first World Series berth.
Garner was perhaps Houston's most significant addition after a midseason swoon left them 44-44. Known as ''Scrap Iron'' during his playing days, Garner's infusing enthusiasm in a veteran club that was close-knit but rarely animated.
Houston won 36 of its final 46 games to clinch the NL wild card, beat Atlanta to win a playoff series for the first time in club history and came a few outs from defeating St. Louis in the NLCS.
''The second half of the 2004 season was among the most exciting in franchise history,'' owner Drayton McLane said. ''We feel Phil's leadership had a tremendous impact on the success of our team ... we look forward to having him as a manager as we continue toward our goal of winning a World Series championship.''
Garner received a two-year contract with a team option for 2007.
Pointing to Garner's success with the club, McLane sought and received permission from commissioner Bud Selig to hire Garner without going through the league-mandated selection process.
Garner and Purpura met extensively over the past two days before agreeing late Wednesday afternoon.
''We are excited to have him back on board to continue the momentum we started last season,'' Purpura said at a news conference. ''I look forward to a long and prosperous relationship.''
Garner has already gotten off to quite a start in Houston after never coming close to the postseason in his first two stints as a manager of terrible teams in Milwaukee and Detroit. He had been out of baseball for two years when Hunsicker approached him about the job in early July.
Garner and other Astros officials are making plans to visit free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran in his native Puerto Rico later this week in an effort to get him to re-sign. Improving team speed and upgrading the defense are also top priorities, along with straightening out the pitching staff.
''It's important to have quality people on the club,'' Garner said. ''The bar has been raised and the expectations are higher.''
Garner, an infielder with the Astros from 1981-87, has kept a home in the Houston area since his playing days. He joined Bob Lillis, Art Howe and Larry Dierker as former players who have gone on to manage the team.
Garner's first job as a manager came with Milwaukee in 1992, and he led the Brewers to a 92-70 record and a second-place finish in the AL East. That proved to be his best season there, and Garner was ultimately fired by Milwaukee after 112 games in 1999.
The Tigers hired Garner in 2000, going 145-179 over the next two seasons before firing him after they lost the first six games of the 2002 season. His dismissal tied the quickest firing of a manager who started the season since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Baltimore fired Cal Ripken Sr. in 1988 after the Orioles lost six games en route to an 0-21 start.
The Astros also announced that bench coach John Tamargo, in his sixth season with the club, will not be part of the staff next season.
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