SEATTLE — The Mariners have fired general manager Bill Bavasi, as Seattle lags along with the worst record in baseball after starting the season with playoff hopes.

Bavasi was fired Monday morning. Vice president/associate general manager Lee Pelekoudas will take over in his place.

Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said in a release that new leadership was needed in the GM position. Lincoln says a search will begin immediately for a permanent GM, and Pelekoudas will be a candidate.

Bavasi was in his fifth season as Seattle's GM, only once turning out a club with a winning record. That was last year when Seattle won 88 games.

Armed with a $117 million payroll, Bavasi put together what many believed was a playoff contender for 2008. But the Mariners have underachieved from the start and entered Monday night with a 24-45 record.