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Leyland's absence leaves three finalists

11/3/2004 - New York Mets

NEW YORK -- Jim Leyland finally spoke to the New York Mets
about becoming their manager and decided he wasn't interested,
leaving Yankees coach Willie Randolph, Texas coach Rudy Jaramillo
and former Houston and Anaheim manager Terry Collins as the three
finalists.

Leyland, a former Pittsburgh, Florida and Colorado manager, had
a telephone conversation Tuesday with new Mets general manager Omar
Minaya.

"We decided at this particular time it's not a good fit for
either of us," Leyland said during a telephone interview. "We
agreed on it."

Leyland, who interviewed with the Philadelphia Phillies on
Monday, didn't want to go into details, and neither did Minaya. But
Minaya said he was looking for a manager who would join him in
scouting the winter leagues and instructional leagues during the
offseason.

"The job description that I presented was not was what he was
looking for right now," Minaya said, later adding: "It's going to
be a 12-month job."

Minaya said he received notice last week that the Chiba Lotte
Marines would not give the Mets permission to speak with former New
York manager Bobby Valentine, currently manager of the Japanese
Pacific League team.

Randolph, Jaramillo and Collins are scheduled to travel to Shea
Stadium on Wednesday for second interviews with Minaya and his
staff. Minaya said the pick is his to make, and he hopes to make a
decision later this week. He does not have to consult first with
owner Fred Wilpon or son Jeff Wilpon, the Mets' chief operating
officer.

"Ownership has told me this will be my decision," Minaya said.

New York went 71-91 this season and finished fourth in the NL
East, causing the Mets to fire Art Howe midway through a four-year
contract. Minaya hopes to rebuild quickly while allowing prospects
to develop at the same time.

"In this day and age, teams can go from where we were last year
to being in contention," he said.

Notes
Minaya said RHP Victor Zambrano, who did not pitch after
Aug. 17 because of an elbow injury, will not need surgery.
Zambrano, acquired from Tampa Bay on July 30 for highly regarded
pitching prospect Scott Kazmir, has an injured ankle, Minaya said,
adding: "He will not start throwing until his ankle is 100
percent."