Ken Macha will walk away from the Oakland Athletics after seven
years with fresh memories of another winning season, despite a
young and injury-depleted lineup.
He hopes potential employers appreciate that, too.
Macha was out of a job as A's manager Wednesday after failing to
reach an agreement on a new contract, which he called one of
several "massive disappointments" in his tenure.
"Who knows how the rest of baseball views you?" Macha said
hours after general manager Billy Beane announced there would be no
further negotiations to keep the third-year skipper.
"I can go home and sleep and know that we used tremendous
character to get through this season," Macha said.
Macha led the A's to the AL West title in his first year as
manager in 2003, the club's fourth straight playoff berth. But
Oakland failed to reach the postseason the past two years despite a
91-win season in 2004 and 88 victories this year.
"We offered a three-year deal with a club option and they
countered with a three-year deal without a club option," Beane
said on a conference call. "I don't think we were ever going to be
able to bridge the gap. It was a significant gap."
The option would have allowed the A's to decide whether to keep
Macha after three seasons.
"There are no hard feelings whatsoever," Beane said. "This is
part of the business."
Macha had said he hoped to return to the A's, but declined to
discuss specifics of the team's offer, saying money matters are
strictly personal. His agent, Alan Nero, told The Associated Press
he received an offer from Beane on Monday, then offered two
different counter proposals, the second of which brought the sides
"We were significantly apart," Nero said in a telephone
interview. "Then I made a proposal and we were very close. Billy
declined to make another proposal because he felt Kenny wouldn't be
Nero called it a "sad day" for Macha, the fans and the
players. "It was an amicable separation and it's time for
everybody to move on."
Nero said he spoke Wednesday to Pirates general manager Dave
Littlefield about the managerial vacancy in Pittsburgh, where Macha
lives. The Florida Marlins are also interested in the 55-year-old,
Macha hopes teams will take into account how the A's performed
with such a young roster. Four rookies played huge roles.
"Hopefully something will work out," Macha said. "You have
experiences, and that was a growing experience."
The A's seemed out of it in May when they had two eight-game
losing streaks and finished the month with a 7-20 record. Oakland
rebounded with another strong second half, overcoming injuries to
key players, including shortstop Bobby Crosby and No. 2 starter
Macha's departure didn't catch players by surprise. Center
fielder Mark Kotsay hopes Macha gets a chance with another club.
"I know contract offers were exchanged, and they probably
couldn't foresee themselves coming to terms," Kotsay said in a
phone interview. "I think he definitely had a respect for the
players and allowed us to handle ourselves as professionals. He was
just a good guy."
Macha was 275-211 in three seasons with the A's. He came to
Oakland in 1999 following four seasons as a manager in Boston's
farm system. He was promoted from bench coach when Art Howe left
for the New York Mets following the 2002 season.
Beane said the sides had exchanged proposals this past weekend
because both parties wanted to come to a resolution quickly,
leaving Macha time to explore other openings.
"This whole issue didn't sneak up on us," Beane said. "It's
disappointing we couldn't come to a conclusion that was
Beane said he would work to form a list of candidates to replace
Macha, and didn't say whether members of the existing A's coaching
staff would be considered.
On Monday, the A's announced hitting coach Dave Hudgens'
contract would not be renewed.