San Francisco — The San Francisco Giants cut ties with manager Felipe Alou on Monday, a day after the team finished its second straight losing season.
The change had been expected for some time, with the 71-year-old Alou's contract expiring. He said he would like to stay in baseball in 2007, possibly with the Giants, the franchise that signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 1955.
After winning 100 games and the NL West in his first season in 2003, the Giants did not make the playoffs in Alou's final three years. He had a 76-85 mark in 2006, ending his tenure with a 342-304 record.
"I'm proud of my behavior, my respect to the game, people, to the cities and countries, the flags," Alou said last week. "I don't like .500. A .500 man to me is mediocrity. You don't choose your tools."
Alou, the winningest Latin American manager, replaced Dusty Baker after the Giants lost the 2002 World Series.
Los Angeles Angels pitching coach Bud Black is considered a strong candidate to replace Alou, while Bob Brenly, Lou Piniella and Giants bench coach Ron Wotus also have been mentioned.
"Tough decisions are always painful, and this one is especially painful," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. "Felipe is a man of unquestioned integrity who has put his heart and soul into the Giants."
The split with Alou is the first major move in what promises to be a busy offseason in San Francisco. The most closely watched decision will be whether the Giants decide to bring back slugger Barry Bonds, who needs just 22 homers to break Hank Aaron's career record of 755 but has been plagued for years by allegations of steroid use.
Alou, who returned home to Florida after Sunday's season finale against the wild-card Dodgers, asked for privacy Monday and issued a statement through the club.
"Even though I will not be the Giants manager next year, I will always be a Giant," Alou said. "Ever since I was signed by the Giants as a student out of the University of Santo Domingo, I've always considered myself a Giant."