Leyland's absence leaves three finalists
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.
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."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press