New York Daily News reported that Howe will be fired at the end of the season."> New York Daily News reported that Howe will be fired at the end of the season.">

Report: Howe's a goner

The Mets insist they're playing out the string for pride, which is what they'll take to the mat against the Atlanta Braves in a doubleheader late Monday afternoon. <P> What hasn't been said is that the Mets are playing to save manager Art Howe's job, as a trend of anonymous "one Met said…" rips have cropped up in the newspapers in successive, repetitive fashion. Today's <I>New York Daily News</I> reported that Howe will be fired at the end of the season.

With the Mets now on a freefall in which they've lost 19 of 21 games, including suffering a three-game sweep at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies that vaulted Larry Bowa's club back into Wild Card contention (and allowed the Phils to shear off their manager's locks), it's hard to argue with the decision.

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.

Mets Notes

  • Vance Wilson has decided to undergo surgery to repair the torn ligament in his left hand, which dates back to August 21 against the San Francisco Giants. The Mets are short-handed with catchers, as Jason Phillips was clubbed with a backswing during Sunday's game, so the team will try to acquire another backstop in time for Monday's twinbill.

    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.

  • Bad things happen in threes. Our condolences to Mets bench coach Bobby Floyd, who received word Sunday that his older brother Bill Floyd had passed away due to complications of cancer in North Carolina. Floyd lost his mother earlier this season and had his Port St. Lucie home badly damaged by Hurricane Frances.

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