Bob Brenly didn't necessarily see the writing on the wall, but he could sense the footsteps creeping up behind him before he was fired as manager of the Diamondbacks four months into the season, the former skipper revealed in a recent interview.
Brenly, who was replaced by third-base coach Al Pedrique on July 2 but has said almost virtually nothing since his firing, admitted he knew something was up during a conversation with then-CEO and chairman Jerry Colangelo, who eventually was supplanted of his power and replaced by sports agent Jeff Moorad.
"Looking back now at some of the things he (Colangelo) said, I think he knew more than he was able to let me know, what was going to happen with his situation," Brenly told the Arizona Republic during the National League Championship Series, where he worked as a television analyst for Fox Sports. "He assured me if a decision was strictly up to him, it was a decision not to be made."
"You'd like to believe as the situation changed, expectations should have changed," Brenly told The Republic. "With the injuries and force-feeding the young kids into the lineup and the other factors that went into it, we couldn't realistically expect to win our division with the team we were running out there on a daily basis."
Brenly, who has had some contact with a few clubs about a possible managing or coaching job as well as that of perhaps a broadcasting position, said one thing that particularly bothered him about his dismissal in Arizona was the belief he didn't work well with some of the younger talent on the club.
"People were saying I couldn't work with kids, but the year before we had a 12-game winning streak with a bunch of kids who were fresh off the freeway," Brenly said. "We won the World Series in 2001, we won the division in 2002 and of course all the injuries in 2003 with the two big guys (Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling), that killed us. The first time there's the least sign of adversity, I got flushed. That was a little frustrating. I would have liked the opportunity to try to do the best I could to reassemble the team and start over again."
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Hired two days before pitchers and catchers reported to Vero Beach, Fla., for spring training, first-year general manager Paul DePodesta resisted making the kinds of sweeping changes that often accompany a change at the top of the front office.
Now that the 2004 season is over, DePodesta is expected to make some changes. But after the team's first division championship since 1995 and first postseason appearance since 1996, those changes might not be as sweeping as once expected.
"We have a lot of decisions to make," DePodesta said. "My goal is to have all of those things wrapped up by the general managers' meetings in the first week of November so that we can have everything settled and focused as we go into the offseason."
Contracts of everyone in the front office as well as manager Jim Tracy and his coaching staff expire on Oct. 31. DePodesta has indicated he wants to retain Tracy and his staff, and negotiations for a multiyear contract extension are expected to proceed smoothly.
"I think it's a matter of sitting down and feeling out what their intentions are," Tracy said. "I'd like to think I'm going to get the opportunity to continue to manage this club."
Two members of Tracy's staff, however, are expected to be candidates for managerial openings elsewhere -- bench coach Jim Riggleman and third-base coach Glenn Hoffman.
Riggleman, 51, managed the Padres (1992-94) and Cubs (1995-99) for eight seasons before joining the Dodgers staff. His teams were 486-598. Hoffman, 46, handled the Dodgers on an interim basis in the second half of the 1998 season. He interviewed for the Boston Red Sox managerial opening last winter.
The Cubs fired third base coach Wendell Kim and switched the jobs of Gary Matthews and Gene Clines.
Matthews changed from hitting coach to first-base coach, and Clines has gone from first-base coach to hitting coach.
"We felt like Gene Clines is a quality, quality hitting coach and worked well in San Francisco," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "We had numerous calls over the years requesting permission for Gene to be interviewed as other major league clubs' hitting coaches.
The Cubs offense was up-and-down in 2004 and fizzled during a 2-8 stretch to end the season. Before that stretch, they were 1 1/2 games in the National League wild-card lead and then fell off the pace. Expectations for the Cubs to make it to the World Series were high and they couldn't even make it to the playoffs.
Kim came under fire in his two years in Chicago for his aggressive style, which had gotten some runners gunned down at home plate. He took responsibility and blame after some ill-advised judgment calls, but it wasn't enough to save his job.
The Cubs are looking both internally and externally for a replacement for Kim.
President Tony Tavares will not be attending the Series. The team doesn't have a general manager since Omar Minaya bid his farewell after the season to take a senior baseball management position with the Mets.
And, oh yes, the Expos are expected to have a new owner before the start of the 2005 season. MLB, through the member clubs, currently owns the franchise.
Tavares said his focus over the next few weeks will be in laying the groundwork for the shift of the Expos franchise from Montreal to Washington for the start of the 2005 season.
Regarding a replacement for Minaya, Tavares said, "We hope to do something shortly after the World Series."
Tony Siegle, assistant GM and director of baseball administration, is handling all the detail work in the meantime.
"Tony is excellent in administration," Tavares said. "There's a combination of people who will work with him."
"As far as the last call on issues, I guess I have that now. That's been the case pretty much anyway. Omar would always run things by me for advice and the final sign-off."
"What we are missing is somebody with the skills to really analyze players. Omar has a particularly keen eye for talent and the knowledge of players."
Asked if manager Frank Robinson and members of the coaching staff will return, Tavares said, "I want to wait until a general manager is in place to consult him, but I don't anticipate that being a problem."
NEW YORK METS
The Mets received permission from the Dodgers to interview minor league field coordinator Terry Collins for their managerial opening. Collins previously managed Houston and Anaheim.
Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo interviewed with the Mets on Friday. He is close with new GM Omar Minaya and could be the frontrunner to replace Art Howe as manager.
When general manager Ed Wade began his search for a manager to replace Larry Bowa, he insisted he wasn't placing any limitations on the qualifications he would consider.
So far, things haven't worked out quite that way. Five of the six announced candidates to this point have managed in the big leagues before, and all but one of those has taken a team to the playoffs.
That doesn't mean, however, that there haven't been a couple interesting names on the list.
Take, for example, Jim Fregosi. If hired, he would not only be a recycled manager. He would have been recycled in Philadelphia after taking the Phillies to the World Series in 1993. He was fired after the 1996 season.
Fregosi, of course, believes that having passed this way before should work to his advantage. "I know the market. I know the city. I know the team. I know a lot about them. And I've had success there," he said.
Another intriguing candidate is Buddy Bell. He has managed the Tigers and Rockies, and while he's never taken a team to the playoffs, he was runner-up in the AL Manager of the Year voting in 1997 after Detroit improved by 26 games from the previous season.
What makes him unique is that his son is the Phillies' third baseman.
"There wouldn't be any problem," David Bell said. "I'm glad that he's going to get an opportunity to interview for the job. But I know they're in the process right now of interviewing some great candidates with Charlie (Manuel), Don Baylor, Grady Little and Jim Fregosi."
"They're all great candidates, so I know that Ed Wade and the organization will do what's best for the team. I'm confident of that. At the same time, I am happy that my dad's being considered for it."
The A's announced last week bench coach Chris Speier will not be re-hired next year, which was not a surprise.
The A's haven't announced for sure which other members of the coaching staff will return, but pitching coach Curt Young is expected to be retained. There was some speculation Young would be made a scapegoat for the pitching staff's late collapse and the struggles of Barry Zito and Mark Mulder.
Speier was sometimes credited for the pickoffs by A's pitchers this year, but two mistakes late in the season didn't help his cause.
On the A's last road trip, Speier copied down the wrong batting lineup and gave it to the Rangers. The mistake wasn't caught until less than 30 minutes before the game, and it could have resulted in the A's batting out of order.
Even worse, Speier provided the wrong pitcher-hitting matchup information to manager Ken Macha in Anaheim.
On September 25, Macha used Ricardo Rincon against Garret Anderson even though Anderson was 5-for-11 lifetime against Rincon. Anderson doubled home the winning run. Macha explained after the game he had no other options, noting that Anderson was 4-for-11 against Arthur Rhodes.
In reality, Anderson was 7-for-34 (.206) against Rhodes. The information was relayed to Macha the next day. Shortly thereafter, Macha held an animated discussion with Speier.
Whether Macha would have used Rhodes isn't certain, but he wanted all the information at his disposal to be accurate.
The A's will be looking for a bench coach for the third straight offseason. Macha was promoted from bench coach after the 2002 season, and Terry Francona was hired. Speier replaced Francona when Francona was hired as the Boston Red Sox manager.
The Mariners want to have a manager in place by the first game of the World Series.
Bob Melvin was fired after a 99-loss season, and general manager Bill Bavasi will have in excess of $20 million to use in the free-agent market. He'd like to have the new manager's input on the ways that money is to be spent.
Bavasi, who has said previous managerial experience wasn't mandatory, said there was a chance a new manager could be on board before the start of the World Series, but he would make no guarantees.
"I'd like it to happen like that, but I'm not certain I want to set a timetable in stone," Bavasi said. "We have some personnel issues to face soon, and the manager should be on board for that. But I'm not certain how soon it will happen."
The Mariners need to rework their offense more than anything, but no portion of the roster is above tinkering.
Bavasi has apparently skipped over two strong veteran candidates, Art Howe and Don Baylor, but reports are that several veterans are in the running, including Mike Hargrove, Grady Little, Terry Collins and Jimy Williams.
And he's going about things differently than most clubs have in recent history. Bavasi is putting less emphasis on the interview process and more on research of who will be on the short list of candidates.