According to the newspaper, Fred Wilpon was just about the only person left at Shea Stadium hoping and wishing that Howe would be able to straighten things out this year and assume control of the club for 2005. Of course, Howe cashes his $4.7 million through 2006 regardless of whether or not he fills out lineup cards or not, which provided Wilpon with financial motivation.
In fairness, the lineups Howe has been filling out have been putrid by design. Howe's office walls are peppered with autographed photos from studs he's had in the past: when Howe greets the media each day, the grinning mugs of Luis Gonzalez, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and more stare back.
No doubt Howe must have wished at least once this summer that he could plug those guys in. Sorry, but if you're going to judge Howe upon the win-loss record, Jeff Keppinger and Gerald Williams aren't going to equal playoff caliber baseball.
The fact remains that the Mets are twenty games under .500 at 61-81, and one more loss assures the team of their third straight losing season (second under Howe). For that, the coaching staff will take the blame, but only by default as the Mets can't fire all of their players.
Todd Zeile has been begging Howe for a chance to catch before he retires at the end of the year, but Howe was reportedly surprised to learn that Zeile hasn't caught since 1990. That could short-circuit his chances, although Zeile has been very enthusiastic about warming up pitchers between innings when the Mets' catcher du jour has been stranded on base.