Sports

Ax falls on Mets' Manuel, Minaya

A day after the New York Mets ended their second straight losing season, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and his father Fred, the team's owner, were eager to get their "family business" back on track. The first act: firing manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya.

“We need to have some new ideas and some different thoughts on what we have here,” Jeff Wilpon said Monday.

Now comes the hard part for an organization that repeatedly has stumbled: cleaning up the mess.

Starting the season with a $133 million payroll, fifth-highest in baseball, the Mets finished 79-83, 18 games behind the Phillies in the NL East. There have been no playoff games in Queens since the Mets came one game short of going to the World Series in 2006, and Fred Wilpon is disgusted.

“The last four years have been the most painful to me, and probably the most disappointing in what is over 30 years (as owner),” he said.

The Mets plan to begin calling candidates right away to replace Minaya.

Manuel finished with a 204-213 record as Mets manager.

NO MORNEAU AT ALL

For the second straight year, the Minnesota Twins will play the postseason without Justin Morneau.

The 2006 AL MVP hasn’t played since July 7 because of post-concussion symptoms stemming from an inadvertent knee to the head during a slide into second base at Toronto. Morneau has begun to improve and hasn’t had any recent setbacks, but general manager Bill Smith said the team doesn’t want to rush back its four-time All-Star first baseman.

Already ruled out for the first round of the playoffs, Morneau had hoped to be ready for the AL Championship Series or the World Series.

Morneau was hitting .345 with 18 homers and 56 RBI when he went down and still finished with the fourth-highest home run total on the team despite playing in only 80 games.

BREWERS FIRE MACHA

Ken Macha will not return as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 60-year-old Macha was 157-167 in two losing seasons following Milwaukee’s first postseason appearance in 26 years. The club confirmed the decision not to exercise its option Monday.

Milwaukee will begin next year with its fourth manager in just more than two seasons. The club fired Ned Yost with 12 games left in 2008 and didn’t keep interim Dale Sveum, leading to Macha’s hiring.

RUSSELL OUT, TOO

He didn’t make the trades or strip the major league roster of so many proven players. In the end, John Russell’s résumé will always include 299 losses in three seasons, and that was way too many, even for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Russell was fired after matching the Pirates’ record for most losses by a manager in three seasons. The only other manager in the franchise’s 124-season history with so many losses in so few seasons was Fred Haney, who was 163-299 from 1953-55.

Russell (186-299) had records of 67-95 in 2008, 62-99 in 2009 and 57-105 this season.

SHORT HOPS

Just in time for the playoffs, Major League Baseball has approved a change in the grounds rules for Tropicana Field that affects fly balls that strike the upper two catwalks in the domed stadium. Instead of being in play, a batted ball that caroms off the A- and B-ring catwalks that support the stadium roof will be ruled a dead ball and the pitch will not count. Kirk Gibson is going to get a shot at managing the Arizona Diamondbacks for a full season. Hired as interim manager after a midseason shake-up, Gibson signed a two-year deal with a team option for 2013.

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