LOS ANGELES (AP) – Paul DePodesta was fired as general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.

Team owner Frank McCourt cited the team’s lack of success as the reason DePodesta was let go.

“Our high expectations were not met,” McCourt said.

McCourt hired DePodesta after buying the team in January 2004 from News Corp. The Dodgers won the NL West title in his first season, but DePodesta riled fans by trading popular catcher Paul Lo Duca and two other players at midseason.

The Dodgers went 71-91 this season, the team’s worst record since 1992 and second poorest since moving to Los Angeles in 1958, after DePodesta made many offseason changes.

The team has been without a manager since Oct. 3, when the Dodgers and Jim Tracy agreed to cut ties. Tracy was hired eight days later to manage the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As late as last week, DePodesta was interviewing candidates for the manager’s job, including former Dodgers star pitcher Orel Hershisher.

McCourt said the Dodgers search for a new manager will be put on hold while the team searches for a new GM.

The leading candidates for the manager’s job are believed to be former Houston Astros and Anaheim Angels manager Terry Collins, currently the Dodgers’ director of player development; Hershiser, pitching coach for the Texas Rangers; and Alan Trammell, fired as manager of the Detroit Tigers earlier this month.

“The Dodgers are at a crossroads here,” McCourt said. “I’m very mindful of this historic franchise’s tradition of greatness.”

He said he will consider “leadership a very important characteristic” for a new GM.

“He would have a keen eye for baseball talent and experience to do the job,” McCourt said.

Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, now a special adviser to McCourt, said he was not interested in being either the GM or returning as manager.

“Why? Go ask my wife, she’ll tell you,” said Lasorda, adding that the job requires a younger person who can devote many hours to those jobs.

Lasorda, whose influence seems to have increased steadily with McCourt, said he would sit in on interviews with candidates for the openings.

“He (McCourt) asks me questions and I give him answers,” Lasorda said. “He doesn’t listen to me all the time.”

The Dodgers began the past season with a 12-2 mark, but losses and injuries soon mounted. The team was without Adrian Beltre, Alex Cora, Shawn Green, Steve Finley and Jose Lima, key players from its 2004 NL West title run.

Jeff Kent was brought in to play second base and had a solid year, but other newcomers didn’t perform well, such as J.D. Drew, Jose Valentin and Derek Lowe, along with holdover Odalis Perez, who was signed to a three-year contract.

Eric Gagne, baseball’s best closer the previous three seasons, had season-ending elbow surgery in June and outfielder Milton Bradley’s season ended in August due to injury.

DePodesta graduated cum laude in 1995 with an economics degree from Harvard, where he played baseball and football for the Crimson.

He had been an assistant to Oakland GM Billy Beane since 1998 when he was hired by McCourt at age 31. DePodesta worked for the Cleveland Indians for three years before joining the A’s.

Beane, under tight payrolls restrictions in Oakland, lead the revolutionary change in player evaluation that valued statistics over gut instincts. Author Michael Lewis wrote the 1984 bestseller “Moneyball” about Beane’s approach to the game, which was adapted by DePodesta.

The technique has been criticized for underestimating the importance of team chemistry.

DePodesta signed loners Kent and Drew in the offseason and there was an ugly clubhouse feud in August between Kent and Bradley. Bradley, who is black, accused Kent of a lack of leadership and an inability to deal with black players.

When he was hired, DePodesta was the third-youngest person to be hired as a big-league general manager. He succeeded Dan Evans, who had a year remaining on his three-year contract.

DePodesta had been expected to become GM of the A’s in November 2002, when Beane agreed to become GM of the Boston Red Sox. Beane, however, changed his mind and stayed in Oakland.

DePodesta was the ninth GM since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, but was their sixth in six years.

The O’Malley family controlled the Dodgers for nearly 48 years before selling to News Corp. in March 1998.

AP-ES-10-29-05 1832EDT


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