St. Petersburg Times
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
The Trop
The Trop
Getting to the Trop
Best routes
Rays forum
The art of pitching
Devil Rays' official home site
Talk baseball in our Devil Rays forum

Print storySubscribe to the Times

Naimoli to New York: Hands off our manager

The Rays owner says Lou Piniella will finish his contract regardless of rumors about the Mets.

Published September 14, 2004

BOSTON - If the Mets fire Art Howe, that's their business.

But the Mets, and the New York media, have no business thinking Lou Piniella is going to replace him, Devil Rays managing general partner Vince Naimoli said Monday.

What had been talk radio fodder and columnists' musings reached a new level Monday when New York's Daily News reported the Mets will fire their manager and that Piniella is their first - and thus far only - choice to replace him.

But Naimoli said Piniella, who is signed through 2006, isn't going anywhere.

"A contract is a contract. We honor contracts and we expect them to be honored," Naimoli said. "We're happy with Lou and look to be associated with him for a long time."

Speculation about Piniella going to New York dates to October 2002, when Piniella, expressing a desire to get closer to his Tampa home, got out of the final year of his contract in Seattle.

The Rays and Mets pursued him and the Rays won, striking a deal for compensation with the Mariners, then signing Piniella to a four-year, $13-million contract.

The Mets instead hired Howe, giving him a four-year, $9.4-million deal, and have struggled mightily. They finished last in 2003 with a 66-95 record and are threatening to do so again this year with a 61-81 mark, despite a $101-million opening-day payroll that was fourth highest in the game.

Talk about bringing in Piniella surfaced again at the end of last season and has been a popular topic in New York in recent weeks, fueled by the Mets' continued struggles as well as Piniella's frustration with the Rays' performance and their reluctance to make more than gradual increases to their $23-million payroll, the lowest in the game. Some reports have gone as far as suggesting the Mets and Rays would trade managers.

"It's wild speculation on a person who has a contract," Naimoli said. "It's something honestly I'm tired of hearing. I don't want to hear any more about one of our co-workers who has a contract."

Asked recently about the situation, Piniella said he planned on being with the Rays for the remainder of his contract.

"I'm here. I'm doing the best job I can," Piniella said. "I enjoy the winning part of the job more than anything else. And here it has been a reality check in a way. We're getting better, and I look to the day we can compete with these better teams and beat them."

The Rays went 63-99 in Piniella's first season and are 61-80 going into tonight's game.

Mets general manager Jim Duquette on Monday didn't confirm or deny the Daily News story, telling reporters in New York no decision had been made and it was an ongoing process. "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."

Howe said if he was going to be fired, he would like to know now: "Why put me through this? I'd rather have it happen now. There's no sense in waiting."

Whatever they decide, Naimoli acknowledged that the speculation is likely to continue.

"It will go on and on as long as the New York Daily News and the New York Post want it to," he said.

-- Information from the Associated Press was used in the report.

[Last modified September 14, 2004, 00:35:26]

Today's lineup
Naimoli to New York: Hands off our manager
Mets receding in Kazmir's rear view
Riding into Rays' plans

Galloway injury adds to troubles
McCardell, Bucs battle rages on
Smith hopes to heal quickly

Lightning prospects to play for title

Other sports

  • AL: Radke keeps Twins rolling
  • NL: Marlins do fine in their home away from home
  • Setting appropriate for Bonds

  • College football
  • Gators gear up early for Vols
  • TTU player still in critical condition
  • FSU sticks with Rix, for now
  • Got a minutes? Chris Myers, Miami OL

  • Colleges
  • Top outside hitter gone, will miss rest of season

  • Fantasy football
  • Let's cut to the chase: You lost

  • Golf
  • Course selection is a nod to first U.S. captain Hagen

  • Hockey
  • Healthier Brodeur expected to return

  • Motorsports
  • No worries this time for Junior

  • NFL
  • Packers 24, Panthers 14
  • AFC: Titans are trying to heal, prepare
  • NFC: 49ers to start former UM QB
  • Seattle might be minus Alexander
  • Under radar, over obstacles

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report

  • Preps
  • Cougars physical, even QB
  • Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111

     Devil Rays Forums
    From The Wire
  • Players, teams start rush to settle in arbitration
  • AP source: Yankees sign free agent RHP Kuroda
  • AP source: Pineda, Montero in Yanks-Mariners swap
  • Resop, Pirates agree to a one-year deal
  • Zambrano says he's happy with trade to Marlins
  • Report: UK police officer loses Olympics documents
  • Jayhawks send Baylor to first loss of season
  • No. 1 Syracuse at 20-0 after 71-63 win over Pitt
  • Fisher's late 3 pushes Lakers past Mavericks 73-70
  • Westbrook's 3s lead Thunder past Celtics 97-88
  • Djokovic, Williams into Australian Open 2nd round
  • Tebow has earned starting status in 2012
  • Filly Havre de Grace wins Horse of the Year
  • Crosby to meet with specialist as symptoms linger
  • AP Top 25: Syracuse stays on top for 6th week