Howe to proceed?

Will he stay – for 17 games – or will he go? <P> That's the decision Art Howe will come up with Wednesday, as he's expected to tell the Mets if he'll accept their invitation to manage the club through the rest of the season. According to reports, he has been informed that he won't be back in 2005.

Putting the ball in the manager's hands is an indecisive approach to take, especially considering that Howe hasn't had all that much impact on the team when he's been there – New York has lost 20 of their last 24 games, with Tuesday's complete game shutout from Kris Benson a rare bright spot.

The Mets can't possibly be worried that the team won't perform as well with a new man filling out lineup cards. Howe's hitting coach, Don Baylor, has extensive managerial experience, but that's not needed to finish out the last 17 games of the season – the Mets have been on auto-pilot for weeks anyway.

But two days after challenging the team to end his tenure now if they'd already decided to ax him, Howe just might just swallow his pride and decide to stick around. A deciding factor seems to be the club's trip to Pittsburgh this weekend, as Howe spoke yesterday about looking forward to seeing two brothers, two sisters and high school buddies in the Iron City.

That alone is a telling insight into his – and the Mets' – thought process. With $4.7 million headed his way over the next two years, it's a pretty safe bet that Howe could afford to purchase a commercial plane ticket for the weekend after cleaning out his office.

Yesterday, Howe seemed particularly interested in the saga of former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel, who held control of the club last season for weeks after being told that he wouldn't be returning.

"Has it ever been done in baseball?" Howe asked.

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