Davey Johnson was fired as manager of the Dodgers after failing to make the playoffs in his two years despite having one of baseball’s highest payrolls, a team source told The Associated Press.
The team scheduled a news conference later today to discuss the manager.
The move was completed Thursday night when Johnson spoke during a conference call with Dodgers executives Bob Daly and Bob Graziano, according to the source, who spoke on condition he not be identified.
Johnson left for a fishing trip in Mexico after the Dodgers ended their season in San Diego last Sunday, missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
The 57-year-old Johnson guided the Dodgers to an 86-76 record and a second-place finish in the NL West this season. He is under contract for next year at a salary of $1.5 million.
Dreams of Lasorda
The Dodgers were 77-85 in 1999 in Johnson’s first season with the team.
The move had been speculated for days, and The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that Johnson had already been told he would not be retained.
Johnson himself had said he expected to be fired.
“There’s a good future here, and I think things will be good here,” he said after the season-finale. “I enjoyed being a Dodger.”
Johnson’s teams have finished first or second in 11 of his 12 full seasons as a big-league manager.
The Dodgers, whose $94.2 million payroll this season was the third-highest in baseball, haven’t made the playoffs since 1996, and haven’t won a postseason game since the 1988 World Series, when they beat the Oakland A’s in five games.
Johnson in Good Company
Johnson becomes the fifth manager fired since last Sunday, when Philadelphia’s Terry Francona was dismissed on the season’s final day.
Cincinnati’s Jack McKeon, Pittsburgh’s Gene Lamont and Arizona’s Buck Showalter were fired the following day.
The firing also means the Dodgers will have their fourth manager since Hall of Famer Tom Lasorda left midway through the 1996 season after a heart attack.
Bill Russell succeeded Lasorda, and was fired in June 1998 — three months after the News Corp.’s Fox Group bought the Dodgers from the O’Malley family.
Glenn Hoffman, the Dodgers’ third base coach this season, lasted until the end of the 1998 season, when he was told he would not return as manager.
Johnson, who guided the New York Mets to the 1986 World Series title, was hired three weeks later, after Montreal manager Felipe Alou chose to stay with the Expos.
Before Lasorda, who became Dodgers manager in 1977, Walter Alston, another Hall of Famer, held the job for the previous 23 years.
Johnson, who played second base for Baltimore, Atlanta, Philadelphia and the Chicago Cubs from 1965-78 and hit 43 homers for the Braves in 1973, previously managed the Mets, Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles. His teams have a 1,148-888 record.
At season’s end, Johnson ranked fourth among active big-league managers in wins, behind St. Louis’ Tony LaRussa, Atlanta’s Bobby Cox and the New York Yankees’ Joe Torre.
The Dodgers, who finished 11 games behind the NL West champion San Francisco Giants, weren’t eliminated from contention for the wild card spot until the season’s final week, but it was clear long beforehand they weren’t going to make the playoffs.
They won 11 of their final 15 games to reach 86 wins.