CINCINNATI -- General manager Jim Bowden and manager Bob
Boone were fired Monday by the Cincinnati Reds, who failed to live
up to expectations in a new ballpark.
Mon., July 28
Jim Bowden always got the better end of the deals he made. He knew how to get other GMs to give up their talent in return for whatever he was offering. He did a great job with the Reds on what was mainly a shoestring budget. His firing was a direct result of an ownership that has no clue how to run a baseball team.
It wasn't surprising when Carl Linder, who was a minority owner of the Reds until former majority owner Marge Schott was ousted, told everyone he would return the Reds to prominence. He then spent a ton of money trading for Ken Griffey Jr., but only threw that "spending" theory out the window. Now, he's once again spending next to nothing. I guess he was hoping Bowden could create miracles out of some washed-up pitchers. Personally, I'd take Marge Schott over Carl Linder seven days a week and twice on Sundays. Schott was a shrewd businesswoman who was always accessible to the fans of Cincinnati and was willing to spend top-dollar on free agents. She cared about the product -- the team. Bowden's untimely and unwarranted departure was a direct result of him lacking the funds necessary to win. With a new ballpark, had Bowden been given a little more cash to put a team together, he would still be the general manager.
Bowden is also not solely responsible for the Griffey trade. A few years ago, Griffey was on his way to the Hall of Fame. Now, he'll be lucky to hit 500 home runs in his career. Heck, the Reds built the Great American Ballpark mostly to help Griffey break Hank Aaron's home run record. It's not Bowden's fault the Reds ended up with one of the most fragile players in recent memory.
The clubhouse was closed and the moves were announced shortly
before an afternoon makeup game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Bench coach Ray Knight ran the team for the day.
Triple-A Louisville manager Dave Miley will run the Reds on an
interim basis for the rest of the season.
The Reds also fired hitting coach Tom Robson and third base
coach Tim Foli, who were brought in by Boone. The Reds are last in
the NL in pitching and have the worst defense in the majors.
Bowden and Boone were in the final years of their contracts and
were under pressure to win in the first season at Great American
Ball Park. Bowden was in charge of a rebuilding that was supposed
to bring a winner in 2003, but the team was 46-58 when he was
"Certainly there were high expectations for this season,'' said
the club's chief operating officer, John Allen. "I'm not saying we
necessarily expected to go to the World Series, but we certainly
didn't expect to be sitting 10 games out and significantly under
.500 at this point in the season.''
Allen said the club won't hire a general manager until after the
World Series. Two of Bowden's assistants will take over his duties
in the interim, including trade talks.
Allen said he decided the changes were needed last week, and got
ownership's approval. A 1-7 homestand after the All-Star break
dropped the Reds out of contention and influenced the decision.
Heading into Monday night's game, the Reds were stuck in fifth
place in the NL Central.
Boone left the clubhouse about two hours before the start of the
game, dressed in street clothes. He shook reporters' hands but
declined to comment. Bowden also left without comment.
The clubhouse was closed to reporters after the firings were
announced. Allen made sure third baseman Aaron Boone, the manager's
son, was informed following a meeting with his father.
Perhaps 2,000 fans were in the stands, holding umbrellas and
dressed in rain ponchos, as the game began in a light drizzle.
Knight, who managed the Reds in 1996-97, took out the lineup card
and coached third base.
The front-office shakeup marked a dramatic shift for the Reds,
who have pointed to their move into the new ballpark as a watershed
moment for the franchise. Instead, it has been a huge
Bowden became the youngest general manager in major league
history, only 31 when he took over before the 1993 season. He
immediately built his reputation as an impatient boss by firing
manager Tony Perez only 44 games into the next season.
Bowden became one of the most influential general managers in
club history, guiding the team through former owner Marge Schott's
gaffes and suspensions for inflammatory comments.
He led the Reds to the NL championship series in 1995 with the
second-biggest payroll in the league. The Reds were swept by the
Atlanta Braves and never made it back to postseason play.
Along the way, Bowden developed a reputation for playing angles
and constantly remaking the roster. The Reds formally launched into
a rebuilding in 1997, but changed course when they surprisingly
stayed in contention throughout 1999, losing a one-game playoff to
the New York Mets for the NL wild card.
Bowden then pulled off the trade that was supposed to be his
crowning moment as a general manager, bringing Ken Griffey Jr. home
in February 2000 through a trade with Seattle. But that blew up on
him as well, with Griffey getting hurt in each of his four seasons
Griffey is out for the season with a torn tendon in his right
When the ballclub was campaigning for a sales tax increase to
build the new ballpark, Bowden promised fans: ``Build it and we
will win.'' His impatience and the franchise's inability to develop
young pitching during his tenure doomed them to another losing
Boone took over for Jack McKeon after the 2000 season and never
produced a winning record. The Reds went 190-238 during his tenure.
Cracks started to show after the All-Star break, when starting
pitchers complained about Boone's handling of the pitching staff.
Boone also came under question because of his propensity for
unorthodox moves -- batting home run leader Adam Dunn in the leadoff
spot, for example.
Boone was limited this season by Bowden's insistence he carry
inexperienced outfielder Wily Mo Pena on the roster, even though he wasn't ready for the majors.