The Cincinnati Reds fired Dusty Baker on Friday, parting ways with the manager who led them to their best stretch of success since the Big Red Machine but couldn't get them past the first round of the postseason.
The move came after the Reds lost the wild-card playoff in Pittsburgh, 6-2, on Tuesday night, ending the season with their sixth consecutive loss. He had a year left on his two-year deal.
The final-week fade was a major factor in the decision, General Manager Walt Jocketty said in a phone interview.
"Just the way we played lately was a factor," Jocketty said. "But I think the way the season ended was kind of the final decision. "The last six games certainly played a big part in this."
The Reds are the fourth team with an opening at manager. Davey Johnson retired after the Nationals' season, Eric Wedge left the Mariners and the Cubs fired Dale Sveum after finishing last in the NL Central.
Baker took over a rebuilding team in 2008 and led it to three 90-win seasons and three playoff appearances in the last four years, the Reds' best run since Sparky Anderson managed the Big Red Machine to two World Series titles in the 1970s.
Baker had expected to return for the second year on his deal. The firing surprised him.
"Maybe it's something I said, maybe something I didn't say along the way," Baker said. "I know I had a conversation with Walt that they were going to look to replace [hitting coach] Brook Jacoby, and I was like, 'Oh, no, Brook's not doing anything as one of my coaches that deserved that.' It wasn't an ultimatum, but I just said, 'Hey, man, if we get rid of Brook, you might as well get rid of me too.'
"The next thing I was called up to the office," Baker continued. "I thought I was going to discuss Brook's future and the rest of the coaches' future, and I was told my services were no longer needed."
Baker went 509-463 in his six seasons with Cincinnati, finishing third on the Reds' list for wins by a manager behind Anderson (863) and Bill McKechnie (744). His 1,671 career wins ran 16th on the career list.
His health is good and he hopes to manage again.
"I've got a lot to offer somebody," he said. "I know it, and I think they know it too."
Mets' Harvey to miss 2014 season
New York Mets ace Matt Harvey will have surgery on a partially torn ligament in his right elbow, sidelining him for the 2014 season.
The 24-year-old right-hander will be operated on this month by Dr. James Andrews, the team said Friday. Projected recuperation for elbow ligament operations is about a year.
Harvey, the National League starter in the All-Star game, was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament Aug. 26. He said at the time he wanted to try rehab and avoid surgery. The Mets said he did not plan to talk about his decision publicly until after the operation.
The No. 7 pick of the 2010 amateur draft, Harvey went 9-5 with a 2.27 earned-run average and 191 strikeouts in 1781/3 innings this year.