Cubs fire Baylor, name Kimm interim managerPosted: Friday July 05, 2002 12:08 PM
Updated: Saturday July 06, 2002 12:00 AM
ATLANTA (AP) -- Ultimately, high expectations and a higher than average payroll did in Don Baylor.
The Chicago Cubs fired Baylor on Friday and made Bruce Kimm interim manager, one day after a loss to Atlanta left the Cubs with a 33-49 record, 12 1/2 games behind St. Louis in the NL Central.
Kimm, currently the manager at Triple-A Iowa, won't join the team until Saturday. Bench coach Rene Lachemann ran the team Friday night against the Braves.
"When the talent on the field does not equal the amount of victories in the standings, that is the criteria for making a change," Cubs president Andy MacPhail said. "It's not always a fair one, but that's the way we see it."
Chicago also announced Jim Hendry had been promoted to general manager, taking over the duties from MacPhail.
After going 88-74 in 2001 and finishing five games out of the playoffs, the Cubs expected to contend this season with a $76 million payroll. But except for Sammy Sosa, their offense has been anemic and ranks near the bottom in the National League in nearly every category.
"We just didn't win enough games," first baseman Fred McGriff said. "You've got to win games in this profession. We went out there and played for him, we just didn't win games."
Veterans Moises Alou, Todd Hundley and Alex Gonzalez haven't produced, combining for a .228 average and 72 RBIs. Right-handed starter Jason Bere went 1-9 before going on the disabled list, and Juan Cruz is 1-10.
"He didn't spend all winter taking dumb pills," Lachemann said of Baylor. "He won 88 games last year. What happens in this game if the players don't produce, it's find somebody else to blame."
Baylor, who angered Sosa shortly after taking over the team in 2000 by suggesting the slugger needed to be a more complete player, admitted before Thursday night's game that he didn't have a relationship with any of his players.
He also bemoaned the fact that no one stood up for him last year when he forced pitching coach Oscar Acosta to resign.
But the bottom line -- not Baylor's personality -- forced MacPhail to make a change.
"I try to just look at the big picture," he said. "The spectrum of things we ask a field manager to be good at is humongous. But in the end, you have to evaluate the results, and I think that's why we're here."
Pitcher Kerry Wood blasted his teammates early in the season, saying they were flat and playing as if they were 15 games under .500 in August. Baylor followed Wood's comments with a closed-door team meeting, airing out the frustrations stemming from the lethargic play.
None of it worked.
"It's unfortunate," catcher Joe Girardi said. "This club hasn't played up to anyone's expectations, whether it's management or, more importantly, ours, the fans. Usually if you don't play up to expectations, they end up choosing the manager first."
Kimm's minor league managerial record is 480-449, including 44-45 this season.
"I'm not going to predict we are going to win," he said Friday in a conference call. "I will predict we will go out and play hard. Will we win? I don't know. The rest of the league will tell us whether we will win."
Baylor, the 1979 American League MVP, holds the major league record for being hit by a pitch -- 267 times. He was with the Boston Red Sox in 1986, the Minnesota Twins in 1987 and the Oakland Athletics in 1988, and all three teams reached the World Series.
After a stint as a hitting coach with the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, Baylor became manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies in 1993. He was named manager of the year in 1995 after the Rockies went 77-67 and won the wild card.
But he was fired after a 77-85 season in 1998 and joined the Braves as hitting coach the following season. He joined the Cubs before the 2000 season and has a 627-685 record in 8 1/2 seasons.