Macha firing questionable

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Major-league managers were on the phone last night.

The subject? Oakland Athletics manager Ken Macha.

"If Macha can be fired after winning his division, what security do we have?" one asked of another.

Macha was fired after guiding the A's to a 93-69 mark to win the American League West. The A's swept the Minnesota Twins in the AL Division Series, the first post-season victory in the Billy Beane era.

This is the fourth time an Oakland manager has led the team to 90 wins and into the post-season but not returned the next year. It happened to Dick Williams after 1973 and Alvin Dark after 1975 in the Charlie Finley era. Beane said goodbye to Art Howe after 2002.

There are stories that some players weren't happy with Macha.

It is impossible for a big-league manager to keep all 25 players happy ... and win. He can form a neighborhood weekend team of guys on his street and he couldn't keep them happy.

Big league players look at every missed start as damage to their numbers to fight ownership in salary arbitration.

At the end of the 1997 season, Blue Jays players did not like Cito Gaston. Then, they didn't like Tim Johnson. They didn't like Jim Fregosi, Buck Martinez and Carlos Tosca. Then, well Shea Hillenbrand didn't like John Gibbons.

Ted Lilly didn't like Gibbons either the night his manager hooked him against the A's. Lilly had an 8-0 lead in the third and retired one of the next seven hitters, leaving with ugly words. Five runs were in, two men were on base and the tying run at the plate.

Those fences were mended quickly, although we doubt Lilly will wind up back with the Jays.

CREAM OF THE LEFTY CROP

Oakland's Barry Zito, 28, 102-63 for his career, is the prime free-agent lefty available this winter. Zito was 16-10 this season logging 200-plus innings for a sixth consecutive year. He told reporters in New York and Los Angeles he'd like to play there.

After that, if you are looking for a lefty there are Andy Pettitte, Mark Redman, Randy Wolf and Lilly.

If the deep thinkers with deep pockets who run the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers and Angels want a lefty like Zito, teams among the Zito also-rans will have money left over.

Pettitte was 14-13 with a 4.20 earned run average in 35 starts for the Houston Astros. Redman, 32, was 11-10 with a 5.71 in 29 starts for the Kansas City Royals. Wolf was 4-0 with a 5.56 ERA in 12 starts with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Lilly was 15-13 with a 4.31 ERA in 32 starts for the Jays.

INCOMING

Trevor Lawhorn, the infielder the Jays acquired as the player to be named in the Aug. 16 Scott Schoeneweis deal, was a ninth-round selection in the 2004 draft. He spent the past two seasons at single-A Dayton and single-A Sarasota.

"It helped that every time we played a Jays team over the last two years I played very well against them," the former East Carolina University Pirate told reporters.

"Considering it was a big-league trade, it's a big deal," Lawhorn said. "It definitely shows they have a lot of interest in me."

PEAKING

Phillippe Aumont of Gatineau, Que. continues to climb the draft charts. Perfect Game scouting services has the 6-foot-8 righty listed as the 25th best prospect on its top 1,000 list of high schoolers.

Baseball America has him 49th on its combined high school/college list.

Scarborough righty Les Williams of Team Ontario is listed 140th on the PG list while first baseman Cam Robulack, of the Ontario Blue Jays, is 209th.

ALL INDYS

Three Canadians made Baseball America's all-independent team. Windsor shortstop Stubby Clapp hit .323 with one homer and 34 RBIs for Edmonton, Ryan Radmanovich of Calgary hit .302 with 27 homers and 66 RBIs for Somerset, and third baseman Eddie Lantigua of Quebec City hit .343, with 11 homers and 61 RBIs with Quebec.


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