Fregosi Fired As Blue Jays Manager

Wednesday, October 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TORONTO (AP) — Jim Fregosi was fired for failing to take the Toronto Blue Jays to the AL playoffs. The general manager was not held accountable for that same failure.

Fregosi, who managed the Blue Jays to two third-place finishes, learned of his firing during a meeting in Florida with general manager Gord Ash, who earlier was given a contract extension by Toronto's owners.

Ash and Paul Godfrey, the team's new president and CEO, said the manager did reasonably well after taking over midway through spring training in 1999, but that the Blue Jays are not satisfied with merely finishing with more wins than losses.

``It's my belief it's time to take this club to the next level. That's our goal,'' Godfrey said. ``I'm not saying Jim couldn't do it. I'm just hoping we can get someone who can help do it a little quicker.''

At 83-79, the Blue Jays finished third in the AL East with one less victory than they had in their first year under Fregosi.

Ash said he was disappointed in the lack of development in young pitchers Chris Carpenter, Kelvim Escobar and Roy Halladay, as well as the team's reliance on the home run.

Ash said he didn't feel management contradicted itself by dismissing Fregosi for not making the playoffs, while retaining the general manager.

``I don't think it's curious at all,'' Ash said. ``As I said all along, my situation had to be resolved before we could move on to the manager.''

Fregosi is the sixth manager to be fired since the season ended, joining Terry Francona (Philadelphia), Buck Showalter (Arizona), Gene Lamont (Pittsburgh), Jack McKeon (Reds) and Davey Johnson (Los Angeles).

The Blue Jays went 167-157 under Fregosi, who also has managed the California Angels, Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia. In 15 major league seasons, his teams are 1,028-1,095.

``It's a good young team. We had a good two years. Toronto is a great city and was a lot of fun,'' Fregosi said from his home in Tarpon Springs, Fla. ``There was a decision from an organizational standpoint that they didn't want me back.''

Lagging attendance, as well as a strained relationship between Fregosi and star player Carlos Delgado, were believed to be reasons the front office made a managerial change.

But Godfrey said he doubts a new manager alone can boost ticket sales. And both Ash and Fregosi said the former manager's relationship with Delgado was not an issue.

``They can make whatever they want out of it,'' Fregosi said, ``but I had a good working relationship with him.''

Top candidates to fill the job reportedly include former Blue Jays star Paul Molitor, broadcaster Buck Martinez and one-time Toronto catcher Ernie Whitt.

Two members of Fregosi's coaching staff, Bobby Knoop and Lee Elia, also will not return. Ash said he spoke with them, and they did not want to remain with the Blue Jays if Fregosi was fired.

Fregosi took over the Blue Jays with 13 games remaining in the 1999 spring training schedule after Tim Johnson was fired for lying about serving in Vietnam. The Jays finished 84-78 that season.