Pinella Fit For The Job But May Be Too Pricey

As each day passes, the Seattle Mariners front office seem to inch closer and closer to give their skipper, Lou Pinella, the go-ahead to speak with the New York Mets regarding their managerial opening and ultimately letting him out of his final year under contract with Seattle.

Pinella, in the upper echelon of managers in baseball today, asked out of his contract in a Friday night meeting with the Mariners, in hopes of working closer to his home in Tampa for 2003.

Although they have not officially spoken to Pinella, it is widely known that Sweet Lou is the Mets' top choice to fill their opening for manager at Shea.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are also rumored to have great interest in Pinella.

Despite public denials from their front office, the Mariners have most likely already internally made their decision on the fate of their skipper. Their delay in inevitably giving the 59-year-old fiery manager his freedom is just for show.

If the M's front office let Pinella slip out of their grip without playing a little negotiating game, they won't be able to demand valuable compensation in return and will have a handful of irritated Mariners fans up in arms.

In other words, by toying with the Mets and Pinella the past few days, the Mariners have ensured that when the time comes for them to allow Pinella to speak to with and possibly sign a contract with the Mets, they will be able to pry a valuable player or prospect out of the Mets hands as compensation.

It's all fair game and smart negotiating on the Mariners part.

Pinella's passion and knowledge for the game as well as his outrageous dirt kicking, base throwing and cap tossing antics on the field would be the ideal fit for the current Mets ball club -- depending on the price of compensation.

A story out of Sunday's Star Ledger reports that Mariners brass are prepared to ask for star second baseman Roberto Alomar for Pinella, a lofty price to pay.

If the Mets hesitate on surrendering Alomar, Seattle's second choice would most likely be can't-miss-prospect Jose Reyes or young fireballer Aaron Heilman.

Hall of Famer, Roberto Alomar is a unreasonable demand in exchange for the services of a skipper in today's game, where the positive, hands-on effect a manager can have on a team is very limited.

It all depends on just how much you think a manager can affect a team's success - or failure for that matter.

Pinella's credentials include the 1995 and 2001 American League Manager of the Year award as well as a 116 win season with the Mariners in 2001. He has won 1226 career games, including 224 during his tenure as New York Yankees manager as well as a World Series ring from the 1990 Cincinnati Reds.

From the Mets perspective, it would make much more sense to put their plans for Pinella on hold and to investigate other managerial options - ones that would not cost New York player talent. As it stands, the Mets current roster does not hold an abundance of marketable talent. Dealing Roberto Alomar, their most valuable trading piece, without getting proven players in return would be a risky nonsensical move for New York.

Other options like Willie Randolph, Lee Mazzilli or Wally Backman, although lacking experience, are proven winners under the spotlight and judgment of the harsh New York media and fans, an underrated intangible.

Mazzilli and Randolph have also studied the managerial art under highly touted cross-town baseball guru Joe Torre.

More potential candidates include former Phillies skipper of four years Terry Francona and baseball's hottest commodity on the managers market this off-season, Kevin Macha, the Athletics bench coach.

Lou Pinella may be the best choice for Mets but there are other respectable alternatives, especially if the addition of Pinella means the subtraction of Alomar.

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