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Indians, Mets, Devil Rays, Athletics hire new managers

Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2002

In the latest round of managerial shuffling, four teams settled on new skippers Monday.

Lou Piniella was introduced as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' manager and the New York Mets finally announced the hiring of Art Howe away from Oakland. The Athletics will promote bench coach Ken Macha in his place, his agent said, and a Cleveland Indians team source told The Associated Press that Eric Wedge will be their next manager.

Piniella agreed to become the Devil Rays' manager after asking his former team, the Seattle Mariners, to release him from the last year of his contract.

Piniella wanted to negotiate with the Mets, too, but the Mariners sought an agreement on compensation before allowing Piniella to talk with other teams.

The Mets and Mariners never settled on compensation, but the Devil Rays did -- All-Star outfielder Randy Winn became a Mariner on Monday.

Piniella will become the majors' second-highest paid manager after signing a $13 million, four-year contract.

Howe's introduction Monday was also a formality -- word that the Mets would hire him leaked last Wednesday night, although the Mets refused any confirmation or announcement until the World Series was over.

Howe agreed to a four-year contract worth $9.4 million after being released from the last year of his deal with the Athletics.

Howe managed the A's to 383 victories the last four seasons, matching Joe Torre's total with the New York Yankees. There were AL West division titles in 2000 and 2002 and a record 20-game winning streak this season, part of a second straight 100-win year for the Athletics.

But the A's were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round for the third straight year.

A top candidate for several managerial vacancies this fall, Macha spent four years as a manager in the Boston Red Sox organization before joining the A's as a bench coach before the 1999 season. He was the Eastern League manager of the year in 1996 with Double-A Trenton, and he led Triple-A Pawtucket to two winning seasons.

At 34 years old, Wedge will become the youngest manager in the majors.

Wedge will be younger than two of his players: Ellis Burks (38) and Omar Vizquel (35). Pittsburgh's Lloyd McClendon, who is 43, had been the youngest manager in the big leagues.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wedge, who will turn 35 on Jan. 27, will be the youngest manager to make his major league debut since Bobby Valentine in 1985.

Valentine was fired by the Mets after a last-place finish this season, creating the opening for Howe.

Before the World Series began, Texas hired Buck Showalter and Detroit hired Alan Trammell.

The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs are still without managers. Both will be hiring their second skipper in less than a year. The Brewers replaced Davey Lopes with Jerry Royster in April, only to fire Royster after the season. The Cubs fired Bruce Kimm on Sept. 29, less than three months after firing Don Baylor.



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