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One American League executive said yesterday that Bobby Valentine, who is managing Chiba Lotte in the Japan playoffs, is a leading candidate to replace Lou Piniella as manager of the Devil Rays . . . One managing candidate attracting notice is Fredi Gonzalez, who has interviewed for the Marlins job. But the favorite there still appears to be Joe Girardi, Joe Torre's bench coach with the Yankees.

All I can say is he made it to series with the Mets marginal talent creating a Subway series. But, what worries me about him is his talking to press about internal problems, and he rubs some players the wrong way.