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Jocketty out as Cards' general manager
The Cardinals and general manager Walt Jocketty have "parted ways," according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
The Cardinals have scheduled a 4 p.m. news conference to discuss Jocketty’s departure after 13 seasons as GM.
Assistant general manager John Mozeliak has been named interim GM by Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and is a candidate to succeed Jocketty on a full-time basis.
Jocketty’s contract runs through 2008 and he apparently reached terms on a financial settlement with DeWitt in a meeting Wednesday morning.
In the meeting, DeWitt informed Jocketty that the franchise was moving forward without him and thanked Jocketty for his service.
It’s expected that DeWitt will explain his reasons for what appears to be a dismissal, rather than a Jocketty resignation, during the news conference.
But Jocketty’s unhappiness has been an open secret at Busch Stadium and around baseball circles.
The tipping point occurred late in the 2006 season, when DeWitt promoted Jeff Luhnow to the position of Vice President of Amateur Scouting and Player Development.
The move, in effect, put Luhnow in an elevated position of authority and displaced Jocketty’s lieutenants from running the draft and supervising the farm system. This left Jocketty embittered, and had a polarizing, divisive effect on the organization.
Luhnow is not a candidate to replace Jocketty, sources said. Luhnow instead will continue in his role of supervising the draft and player development.
DeWitt informed Cardinals manager Tony La Russa of the decision in a phone conversation early Wednesday afternoon.
How Jocketty’s departure will impact La Russa’s decision on whether to return as manager for 2008 is uncertain. La Russa’s contract expired after Sunday’s regular-season finale at Pittsburgh,. And though DeWitt has asked La Russa to return, the manager returned home to Northern California to mull the decision.
Jocketty and La Russa have formed a close alliance since Jocketty hired La Russa before the 1996 season, but late in the season La Russa told the Post-Dispatch that his future was not necessarily intertwined with Jocketty’s.
Hired by Cardinals president Mark Lamping in 1994, Jocketty played a leading role in turning the franchise into one of the most successful in Major League Baseball. During his 13-year reign, the Cardinals won six NL Central division championships, one wild card playoff berth, two National League pennants and the 2006 World Series championships. The team’s streak of seven consecutive winning seasons came to an end this season.
As GM, Jocketty fortified the roster with acquisitions such as Mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds, Edgar Renteria, Darryl Kile, Chris Carpenter, Scott Rolen, Woody Williams, Dennis Eckersley, Todd Stottlemyre, Fernando Vina, Adam Wainwright, Jason Marquis, Larry Walker, Will Clark and Jeff Weaver. But other than Weaver, who pitched well in the 2006 postseason, Jocketty has been unable to make high-impact acquisitions over the last two seasons.