The New York Mets had a payroll this season of more than $100 million US, but finished with a 75-86 record. That dismal performance cost manager Bobby Valentine his job Tuesday.

The Mets finished last in the National League East, 26 1/2 games behind the first-place Braves, despite numerous high-priced additions to the team, including Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn and Jeremy Burnitz.

"For me, this is a painful decision following a very painful season," said owner Fred Wilpon in a statement.

"I understand there will be questions about why I changed my mind after I previously stated that Bobby would be the manager for 2003. The performance of the team, especially in the last two months of the season, was extremely disappointing and I concluded that a change was necessary."

Wilpon said the team would begin the search for a new manager immediately.

Valentine, who just completed the second season of a three-year contract, became the Mets manager on August 26, 1996. He replaced Dallas Green.

Valentine led the Mets to back-to-back wild card berths in 1999 and 2000. It marked the first back-to-back playoff appearances in club history.

Valentine finished with a record of 536-467 with the Mets.

with files from Sports Network