Howe: Why wait?
Report: Mets have decided to fire manager at end of season
Posted: Monday September 13, 2004 6:58PM; Updated: Monday September 13, 2004 11:54PM
"Why put me through this?" he said Monday. "I'd rather have it happen now. There's no sense in waiting."
The Daily News reported Monday that Mets owner Fred Wilpon was persuaded to fire Howe at the end of the season during a meeting of club executives last Friday.
Howe said he hadn't read the story, but general manager Jim Duquette told him about it when he arrived at Shea Stadium. Howe repeatedly declined to comment while television cameras were rolling, then later chose to go back to the subject himself.
Duquette said no decision had been made yet on Howe's future with the team, but he never guaranteed the manager would be back next year, either.
"I don't have much to add other than it's an ongoing process," Duquette said. "Obviously, the organization, we're all frustrated because we haven't played the way we wanted. Obviously, the frustration goes all the way up to the front office."
Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said Wilpon would have no further comment.
If the Mets fire Howe after this season, they would still owe him $4.7 million. He signed a $9.4 million, 4-year contract with New York before the 2003 season.
"If there's a decision to be made, then obviously he'll be the first to know," Duquette said.
After an encouraging first half, the injury-plagued Mets have completely collapsed the last two months. Going into a doubleheader Monday against NL East-leading Atlanta, they had lost 19 of 21 and were 17-40 since July 9.
This despite a $101 million opening day payroll -- fourth-highest in baseball.
One reason is a depleted roster. Mike Piazza, Tom Glavine, Kaz Matsui, Jose Reyes and Victor Zambrano have all missed considerable time in the second half due to injuries, prompting catcher Jason Phillips to say there's been a "black cloud" hanging over the team.
"It's not a lack of preparation or commitment or you're not trying," Phillips said. "I stopped playing GM when I was in Double-A. This is a business. If your numbers aren't good, they do something about it, bad luck or not. It's all about results."
And the players who are healthy haven't produced. Cliff Floyd was hitting .257 with 60 RBIs. Mike Cameron was batting .236 with 136 strikeouts. Steve Trachsel is 1-7 in his last 12 starts. And the aging middle relief corps has been a problem.
"Is it fair? No, it isn't," Floyd said. "If anybody should feel bad it should be the players. We haven't played up to the potential that we should have."
The Mets, who finished last in the NL East the past two seasons, were only 21/2 games ahead of last-place Montreal going into the doubleheader.
"The fact is we failed as players. I failed. Everyone failed. The fact that we're talking about the dismissal of the manager is upsetting," pitcher Al Leiter said. "To me, it's speculation. I haven't heard anything to confirm it."
Other players also took the blame for a disappointing season. But some felt it was unfair to let Howe twist in the wind the rest of the way.
"I don't think it's right the way it's going down right now," Cameron said. "But that's the way it goes. I guess that's New York."
When the Mets couldn't pry Lou Piniella from Seattle, Howe became their second choice to succeed Bobby Valentine as manager. But the mild-mannered Howe, who was coming off consecutive 100-win seasons in Oakland, has been criticized for lacking a fiery personality.
"He's done the best he can under some tough circumstances. There's been an unusual amount of injuries," Duquette said. "I don't think he's fully to blame. The responsibility falls in a lot of areas, including the front office and the players."