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Baseball briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 8, 2000


Johnson mulls over his future

LOS ANGELES -- A day after he was fired as manager of the Dodgers, Davey Johnson said he had no animosity toward the organization and was uncertain about his future.

Asked about Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone, however, Johnson replied, "I have no comment."

The Malone-Johnson relationship was strained through most of Johnson's two years as manager of the Dodgers. At Friday's news conference called to announce Johnson's dismissal, team chairman Bob Daly acknowledged that was a factor in the firing.

Malone apologized for the problems he caused, among them being openly critical of Johnson.

"I'm relaxing in my retirement," Johnson said Saturday from his off-season home in Winter Park. "I'm a little sad. There's some unfinished business there. I thought we accomplished a lot. Obviously we didn't accomplish enough. I have no hard feelings."

Asked if he might be a considered a scapegoat, Johnson replied: "When you don't win, usually the manager gets fired." The Dodgers were 86-76 and finished second in the NL West after going 77-85 in 1999, Johnson's first year as manager.

The Dodgers, whose $94.2-million payroll was the third-highest in baseball this season, haven't made the playoffs since 1996, and haven't won a post-season game since the 1988 World Series.

The 57-year-old Johnson is under contract for next year at a salary of $1.5-million.

MORE DODGERS: Pitcher Mike Fetters, a key member of the bullpen, is close to agreeing to a multiyear contract with the club.

The right-hander, who can become a free agent after the World Series, is expected to sign a two-year deal with an option, guaranteeing him about $4.3-million. Fetters made $550,000 plus performance incentives last season.

MARINERS: Now that they've swept the team with the American League's top record, Seattle can look ahead to the AL Championship Series -- and maybe its first trip to the World Series.

"We're having a lot of fun," Aaron Sele said after Friday's 2-1 win over the Chicago completed the three-game sweep. "Hopefully, we can carry this through."

Seattle starts the ALCS Tuesday.

"We're doing it with good pitching and good defense," John Olerud said. "That's what this team was built for."

Seattle held the highest-scoring team in the major leagues to seven runs and 17 hits in three games. The bullpen pitched 112/3 scoreless innings.

WHITE SOX: Chicago won more games than any team in the American League and had the highest-scoring offense in the majors. It took over first place in the Central in mid-April and stayed there.

None of that mattered in the playoffs.

The White Sox were swept in three games by Seattle, not because their sore-armed pitching staff let them down but because they couldn't maintain the offense they generated during a 95-victory season.

Their bats went limp and the White Sox, who averaged six runs, managed just seven runs in three games against a good but certainly not great Seattle pitching staff.

Chicago's No. 3-6 hitters were 4-for-42 (.095) in the series, and Frank Thomas was 0-for-9 after a 43-homer, 143-RBI season.

"We just didn't play like we were capable of. ... I can't believe what happened out there," Thomas said.

BASEBALL ECONOMICS: One of the major pieces of statistical evidence presented by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Baseball Economics in dealing with payroll disparity was that from 1995 through 1999, no team with a payroll in the third and fourth quartiles won a playoff game.

Oakland has ruined that perfect record, winning the first game of their playoff series against the Yankees. But entering Saturday's schedule, the Athletics' victory had been the only one registered by a team in payroll quartiles III and IV. They lost their next two games to the Yankees, and the Chicago White Sox lost all three of their games with Seattle. Four of the playoff teams are in the first quartile and two are in the second.

NO MILESTONES: So Todd Helton did not hit .400, Darin Erstad did not break the record for hits in a season, Jose Lima did not give up the most home runs ever by a pitcher, no batter hit 60 home runs for the first time in three years, the season went without a no-hitter for the first time since 1989 and no team changed managers during the season for the first time since 1942. A week after the season, five teams have fired managers.

And for the first time in history, no team finished with a won-lost percentage as high as .600 or as low as .400. One more victory by the Giants or another loss for Philadelphia or the Chicago Cubs would have prevented history from being made.

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