Sweet! Lou stays

  • KIRBY ARNOLD / Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, October 31, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Piniella accepts 3-year deal to remain Mariners manager


Herald Writer

SEATTLE — Lou Piniella didn’t need an offer from another team to know where the smart money is.

Piniella decided Tuesday to accept the Seattle Mariners’ three-year contract and remain as manager of a team that came within two victories of reaching the World Series this year.

"Signing Lou was one of our top priorities, without question," said team CEO Howard Lincoln. "He’s one of the best managers in baseball. Lou has helped us in the current success we’ve achieved. We’re trying for more in 2001."

Financial terms weren’t announced, but it’s believed the Mariners will pay Piniella about $6.5 million over three years. Earlier reports of a $7 million deal were not correct, Mariners assistant general manager Lee Pelekoudas said.

The most important element of the signing, in the Mariners’ minds, is that Piniella becomes the first piece in building a championship team. Piniella, 57, has managed the Mariners to two division championships and three playoff appearances in the last five seasons.

The announcement came a day after Piniella’s agent, Alan Nero, had spoken with the Cincinnati Reds about their managing vacancy. Reds general manager Jim Bowden made it clear that Piniella, who managed that team from 1990-92, was their first choice.

The Reds, an organization known to spend its money with great consternation, never made an offer and Piniella decided not to wait for one. He decided to jump at a salary that the Mariners sweetened from their original offer of last Wednesday.

"They could have offered me a ton of money or nothing at all," Piniella said of the Reds. "I guess we’ll never know."

When the time came to decide where to spend the final years of his baseball career, Piniella said his heart led him in one direction: the Mariners.

"When it comes down to making a decision, your heart starts speaking to you," he said. "I had said this would be a financial decision, but truthfully it didn’t turn out to be that. They’re paying me well, and I appreciate that. But I’ve been here eight years and we’ve had success. This organization intends on staying competitive."

Both Piniella and Gillick said the club will make a serious run at signing free agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez, who could demand at least $20 million per year, and solidify the few other weaknesses on this year’s team.

"Our ownership group has stated many times that their interest is not to make money," Piniella said. "Their interest is to put a good product on the field and to break even if possible. They just don’t want a one-year bubble. What they’d like to do is get this thing on solid ground for many years to come. With Pat in charge, I think that’s what this organization is going to do."

Mariners pitching coach Bryan Price said he spoke to the front office in Piniella’s behalf to let them know of Piniella’s importance in the clubhouse. Price said he has seen few people in his 17 years as a pro player and coach who can affect a team as positively as Piniella.

"Lou is the type of guy you want to give 100 percent for, and then you want to find another percent to give him," Price said. "It’s not through intimidation. His personality is such that you want to give him everything you can. It’s a very unique quality, and I think it affects the entire team."

Piniella’s coaches from the 2000 season remain unsigned, but he and Gillick had nothing but praise for all of them. Gillick cited the team’s success despite injuries to Freddy Garcia, Jamie Moyer, Gil Meche and Rodriguez.

"Lou and his staff did a great job leading our club," Gillick said. "They really were the glue that held this thing together."

While flattered, Price said the partnership that deserves the most credit is Piniella and Gillick.

"Pat showed the ability to get quality players on this team and Lou did a great job utilizing his entire roster," Price said. "It’s important to have both of them together because they work so well together."

The Reds were the only team with a managing vacancy that worried Price, whose future seemed uncertain had Piniella not returned.

"I thought Cincinnati was the one viable alternative," Price said. "I didn’t think Lou wanted to go to a team that would be a four-year rehabilitation situation. I thought Cincinnati was a team that will be competitive, but I think even more so of Seattle. I’m really glad he made the decision."

The entire "Seattle package," as Piniella called it, was a lucrative carrot that outweighed other factors that tugged at him, such as money and a desire to work closer to his winter home in Tampa, Fla.

"The Mariners have been my home for eight years," he said. "It’s a wonderful organization with a great ownership group and an outstanding front office. The fans, the city, the ballpark. It’s just a darned good package. I’ve been blessed."

Piniella had previously voiced a concern that Seattle’s location was too far from Tampa and would be a hardship on his wife, Anita.

"We had talked about this situation for a while," he said. "It’s harder on her than anybody else because of the distance. She gave me her full support."

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

From left to right: Arlington’s Kierra Reese and Stanwood’s Ellalee Wortham, Ava DePew and Presley Harris. The foursome, called “Awesome Mix 12,” won the High School Elite division in 2023 and returned to Spokane Hoopfest this year to claim the Women’s Competitive division title. (Photo courtesy Sarah Reese)
Winter Wesco rivals, summer hoopfest champions

Arlington’s Kierra Reese and Stanwood’s Ava DePew, Presley Harris and Ellalee Wortham teamed up to win back-to-back 3-on-3 titles.

Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith found little room between South Carolinas Destiny Littleton (11) and Laeticia Amihere. (Carlos Gonzalez / Star Tribune)
These Olympians in the 2024 Paris Games have ties to Washington state

Nineteen athletes competing in France are from The Evergreen State.

UW Husky rowing will be well-represented in Paris at 2024 Olympics

The U.S. eight competes in heat racing on July 29 with finals on Aug. 3.

Once an MLB bust, Mill Creek’s Travis Snider now hopes to change toxic culture

When Snider made it to the big leagues in 2008 at just 20 he was one of the game’s top prospects, touted as the Blue Jays’ next great hitter.

Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (20) skates with the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Flames at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chandler Stephenson’s deal about broader Kraken goals rather than dollar value

The former Golden Knights centerman signed a seven-year deal for $6.25 million with Seattle last week.

Chandler Fry makes a short birdie putt on Hole 6 on Kayak Point Disc Golf Resort’s Red Course. Fry is a professional from Olympia, Wash., and he has tallied 31 career wins. He will be one of the players in this year’s Mixed Pro Open (MPO) division. (Photo courtesy Andy Jaynes)
Disc golf tournament to bring hundreds of competitors to Kayak Point

The fourth annual Kayak Point Open will feature some of the best players in the state and the region this weekend.

Seattle Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh (29) celebrates his two-run home run with a trident as he high fives teammates during the first inning against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. (Elías Valverde II / Tribune News Service)
Statistics show just how terrible Mariners’ offense has been | Analysis

Seattle leads the AL West, but situational hitting has been a setback.

Everett AquaSox outfielder Lazaro Montes, the Seattle Mariners’ No. 4 ranked prospect, smiles while running onto the field prior to Everett’s game against the Spokane Indians on June 26, 2024 at Funko Field. (Photo courtesy Evan Morud / Everett AquaSox)
AquaSox week in review: Big-prospect Montes one stop closer to dream

RJ Schreck and Will Schomberg lead split against Vancouver.

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Logan Gilbert throws in the first inning against the Cleveland Guardians on April 7, 2023, at Progressive Field. (John Kuntz / Tribune News Service)
Mariners righty Logan Gilbert earns first MLB All-Star nod

Gilbert has made 18 starts this season and averages 6.5 innings per start, the highest in the AL.

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Bryan Woo #33 reacts after striking out San Francisco Giants’ Casey Schmitt #6 in the second inning of their MLB game at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, July 3, 2023. Woo played for Alameda High School. (Jane Tyska / Bay Area News Group)
Mariners’ Bryan Woo, Gregory Santos in line for rehab outings with Everett AquaSox

The 24-year-old pitcher has been on the injured list since June 25, and his next rotation is Saturday.

Pictured are some of the bracket winners from last year’s Lake Stevens Classic pickleball tournament. (Photo courtesy Pablo Granados)
Registration for Lake Stevens pickleball tournament still open

The 2024 Lake Stevens Classic is July 11-14, no strings attached.

The group of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Justin Rose on the third green in the second round of the 2015 U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., on Friday, June 19, 2015. Spieth finished 5 under par for the tournament, making him the sixth player in history to claim both the Masters and U.S. Open titles the same year. (John David Mercer / Tribune News Service)
With no U.S. Open in sight at Chambers, Pierce County ponders Saudi-backed LIV Golf

Various U.S. Open venues are scheduled through 2042, but the 2015 host is not on the list.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.