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Valentine out; Mets to retain GM Phillips

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Valentine out; Mets to retain GM Phillips

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Manager Bobby Valentine was fired by the New York Mets on Tuesday, two days after they finished last in the National League East and two seasons after the team reached the World Series.

The team put together a $95 million payroll last winter, bringing in Roberto Alomar ,Mo Vaughn , Roger Cedeno and others, but it struggled all year and was embarrassed by accusations last month that at least seven players were smoking marijuana this season.

The Mets said they would formally announce the firing at an afternoon news conference.

According to the newspaper, Mets owner Fred Wilpon decided in the past few days to fire Valentine. Wilpon repeatedly had said he planned to keep Valentine and general manager Steve Phillips.

Wilpon said he met Valentine Tuesday morning to inform him of the decision.

"For me, this is a painful decision following a very painful season,'' he said in a statement.

"I understand there will be questions about why I changed my mind after I previously stated that Bobby would be the manager for 2003. The performance of the team, especially in the last two months of the season, was extremely disappointing and I concluded that a change was necessary.''

Wilpon said a search for Valentine's successor will begin immediately.

Valentine just finished the second year of a three-year contract, and the Mets will be responsible for his 2003 salary of about $2.7 million.

The Mets finished 75-86, in last place in the NL East for the first time since 1993 and below .500 for the first time in six years. In his six-plus seasons with the Mets, Valentine was 536-467, reaching the playoffs in 1999 and 2000.

Valentine is the fourth manager to be fired since Sunday, the last day of the regular season.

The Chicago Cubs dismissed Bruce Kimm on Sunday, while Hal McRae of Tampa Bay and Luis Pujols of Detroit lost their jobs Monday.

There were eight other managerial changes during the season.

The Mets went into the season with talk of making the playoffs after Phillips revamped the roster. But the team played uninspired baseball almost from the start and there were a number of embarrassments.

"We didn't play the game as well as we should have,'' Valentine said near the end of the season. "Because of that, I second-guess everything I did. That's totally my responsibility.''

The Mets played poor fundamental baseball and were shaken by off-the-field turmoil. Slugger Mike Piazza was questioned about his sexual orientation, and Alomar and Cedeno engaged in a shoving match in the dugout.

There was a public feud and lawsuit between Wilpon and his former partner and co-owner, Nelson Doubleday. Former Mets player Keith Hernandez said the team quit and then apologized for the remark, and finally came the drug report.

Newsday reported last month that seven Mets smoked marijuana during the season, although the newspaper said Tuesday that Wilpon's decision was based on the team's performance in the past two seasons.

The trouble ran all through the roster.

Vaughn took half a season to find his rhythm after missing all of 2001 with an injury. Alomar, a Gold Glove second baseman, made 11 errors, never looked comfortable in the field, and hit a career-low .266.

Cedeno only managed 25 steals, Shawn Estes went 4-9 before being traded, and Jeromy Burnitz had one good month and hit .215.

The Mets were 13th in the league in runs, had the most errors in the majors with 144, and looked nothing like the team that won the NL pennant just two years ago.

Despite all the troubles, the Mets were in contention after winning 11 of 16 games to end July just 4½ games out of the wild-card lead.

Then came one of the worst months in team history. New York had a 12-game losing streak and didn't win a game at Shea Stadium in August -- part of an NL-record 15-game home losing streak.

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valentine should've stayed and phillips should've been fired. phillips really distroyed the pitching they had two years ago, when they won the pennant. he brought in too many big names at once which killed the team's chemistry. yeah, valentine could've done more to motivate the guys, but the problem was too many guys trying to get used to each other really quick.

now phillips have to get better pitching in the off season and hopefully mo vaughn and roberto alomar will learn how to play defense. then the mets will do great next season.

i hope bobby v. get's another managing job, somebody's got notice bobby's achievements in new york.:cheese:

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