NEW YORK — The New York Mets, frustrated that their young players failed to play up to expectations, fired Manager Dallas Green on Monday and replaced him with Bobby Valentine.
The Mets hoped to contend for a playoff spot this season, but instead had a 59-72 record after Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Dodgers. They are fourth in the NL East, 23 games behind first-place Atlanta, and 12 games behind Montreal for the wild-card spot.
"Since spring training, we haven't done as well as we anticipated," said Joe McIlvaine, the Mets' general manager.
Injuries and inconsistency, especially to the highly touted trio of young pitchers Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson, were prime reasons for the poor mark.
Last week, Green, 62, lashed out at Wilson and Isringhausen, saying they didn't belong in the majors. Those comments, McIlvaine said, contributed to Green's firing.
Valentine, a former manager of the Texas Rangers, was promoted from managing the Mets' triple-A Norfolk team. The Mets also dismissed pitching coach Greg Pavlick and bench coach Bobby Wine, a longtime friend of Green.
Bob Apodaca, Norfolk's pitching coach, was promoted to take Pavlick's spot, and part-time coach Rafael Landestoy was made full-time.
"Our hope with this change is that the younger players can begin to blossom more," McIlvaine said.
Pulsipher has been sidelined the entire season because of elbow trouble.
Last week, in the midst of a dismal 2-7 West Coast trip, Green criticized Wilson, a former No. 1 draft pick, and Isringhausen, 9-2 as a rookie last year. The 23-year-old pitchers are a combined 9-23.
"These guys really don't belong in the big leagues," Green said. "It sounds very harsh and very negative, but what have they done to get here?"
McIlvaine, who said he made the decision to dismiss Green in the middle of last week, said he didn't like that comment.
"It was a factor," McIlvaine said.
The Mets had to inform Green by Sept. 15 whether they intended to bring him back next year, according to his contract.
While veterans Todd Hundley, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson and others played well, the failure by the young player and their perceived lack of progress--prompted the change.
"I was expecting in the second half that our younger players would come to the forefront. That didn't happen," McIlvaine said. "I was concerned we were beginning to lose some of the young players."
McIlvaine said he spoke with Green for about 10 minutes Monday morning to tell him of the decision.
The Mets were off Monday and Valentine, 46, will take over for his first game Tuesday night at home against San Diego.
"I have very mixed emotions, as you might imagine," said Valentine, hired through the 1997 season. "I have a great deal of elation. But I know the emptiness."
McIlvaine praised Valentine and Apodaca as the two best teachers in the Met organization, adding he hoped they'd bring "a fresh, energetic, positive-type of approach."
The Mets have lost 16 of their last 23 games, and were swept last weekend at Dodger Stadium for the first time since 1981.
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Time for a Change
\o7 Managerial record of Bobby Valentine, who was hired as manager of the New York Mets Monday:\f7
Year Team W L Pct. Pl 1985 Texas 53 76 .411 7 1986 Texas 87 75 .537 2 1987 Texas 75 87 .463 6 1988 Texas 70 91 .435 6 1989 Texas 83 79 .512 4 1990 Texas 83 79 .512 3 1991 Texas 85 77 .525 3 1992 Texas 45 41 .523 4 Totals 581 605 .490
\o7 Managerial record of Dallas Green, who was fired as manager of the New York Mets on Monday:\f7
Year Team W L Pct. Pl 1979 Philadelphia 19 11 .633 4 *1980 Philadelphia 91 71 .562 1 1981 Philadelphia 59 48 .551 3 1989 N.Y. Yankees 56 65 .463 6 1993 N.Y. Mets 46 78 .371 7 1994 N.Y. Mets 55 58 .487 3 1995 N.Y. Mets 69 75 .479 2 1996 N.Y. Mets 59 72 .450 4 Totals 454 478 .487
* World Series champion