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Colorado GM To Be Fired Soon

Despite speculation Colorado general manager Bob Gebhard will be fired soon, Rockies owner Jerry McMorris said Monday a decision won't be made until after the season.

The Denver Post, citing major league sources close to the ownership group, reported Monday that Gebhard will be fired and said an announcement could be made later in the day.

"There is no press conference today, there is none tomorrow, there is none scheduled," McMorris said. "It's all pure speculation and it's premature."

Gebhard was hired in 1991, shortly after the franchise was awarded and two years before it started play.

Earlier this year, McMorris and co-owners Charlie Monfort and Dick Monfort said they would wait until after the season before re-evaluating Gebhard's performance.

"We evaluate our people at the end of every year," McMorris said. "It's fair to say we're going to stay with our existing policy. I guess everything is subject to change, of course."

Asked if the ownership group has had discussions about Gebhard's future, McMorris said, "We've had discussions about our season and our frustrations, why our record isn't any better. But we're nowhere near ready to make our total evaluation."

Throughout 1998, when the Rockies struggled early and wound up 77-85, there was speculation about the futures of Gebhard and manager Don Baylor. The Rockies fired Baylor after the season and replaced him with Jim Leyland.

Gebhard, whose contract runs through the 2000 season, won a reprieve, but ownership fortified the front office last fall by hiring veteran baseball official Gary Hughes as vice president of player personnel and giving Keli McGregor, who heads the team's business operations, added responsibilities in the baseball department.

The changes haven't helped. Colorado began Monday 52-67, last in the NL West, 15 1/2 games behind division-leading Arizona.

"There's no question that in most people's minds we have underachieved," McMorris said, "and that has led to a lot of speculation. This is the latest round of it."

The Post reported the Rockies will interview several replacement candidates both inside and outside the organization, and the owners want the new general manager to work closely with Leyland on all personnel decisions.

Gebhard, 56, led the Rockies to the playoffs in 1995 as the NL wild card, the fastest an expansion franchise had ever qualified for the postseason. Six of the nine players who started Game 1 of the division series against the Atlanta Braves were in place by the end of the expansion draft.

But the Rockies have disappointed since, going 83-79 in both 1996 and 1997 before the sharp dropoff last year.

Gebhard took Vinny Castilla, Curtis eskanic and Kevin Ritz in the expansion draft, traded for Dante Bichette and signed Larry Walker and a supposedly washed-up first baseman named Andres Galarraga.

But has been criticized for other moves, such as the acquisitions of Greg Harris, Bill Swift and Bret Saberhagen, and the departures of Galarraga, Walt Weiss, Andy Ashby, Brad Ausmus, Joe Girardi and Armando Reynoso.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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