|Tuesday, November 19
Robinson agrees to one-year deal to stay in Montreal
Frank Robinson not only is returning to manage the Montreal Expos for another season, he thinks the team can make the playoffs for the first time since 1981.
"I think we should be serious contenders for the Eastern Division,'' the Hall of Famer said Tuesday after agreeing to a second one-year contract to manage Montreal, a team still unsure of its budget and home field.
When he took over the team last February, Robinson said it would be for just one year. He had such a good time, the Expos could turn into a long-term gig.
"I can see myself going past the '03 season,'' he said.
The Expos, sold by Jeffrey Loria to the other 29 teams before last season, haven't been given a budget by commissioner Bud Selig, and if it doesn't rise from 2002's $38 million to about $50 million, general manager Omar Minaya may have to deal stars such as Vladimir Guerrero or Bartolo Colon.
"The assurance is that this ballclub is not going to be stripped as to where you look out there and say, `That's a Triple-A ballclub,' '' Robinson said. "I really didn't get into the financial part of what the team was going to be like this season. I don't see the bottom falling out of this ballclub.''
Minaya is still in a holding pattern, waiting for Selig to tell Expos president Tony Tavares how much the Expos can spend.
"When that day comes and they tell me what that's going to be, we will act, and whatever it is, we're going to find a way to make it fit,'' Minaya said.
Robinson, 67, took over the Expos on Feb. 12, just before the start of spring training. Montreal stayed in contention for a playoff berth until just after the All-Star break and went 83-79, a 15-victory improvement over 2001 and its best finish since 1996.
Robinson, who finished third in NL Manager of the Year voting, also has managed in Cleveland, San Francisco and Baltimore, compiling a 763-830 record as a major league manager.
As the Expos faded from contention, he tried to resign on July 16, angry with the effort he was seeing. But he was talked out of it.
"I got a little frustrated,'' Robinson said Tuesday. "I think all managers at times during the season, other than Joe Torre and Bobby Cox, get frustrated with the effort players give. It had nothing to do long range with my feeling about this ballclub.
"I have a lot of confidence in this ballclub. With another year under their belt with me and me with them, I think they will play up to their abilities.''
It could be a most unusual season. Baseball owners, who began gathering Tuesday night in Irving, Texas, were to be briefed on plans to have the Expos play up to 20 home games next year at San Juan, Puerto Rico.
"I really don't think it will affect the play of this ballclub on the field,'' Robinson said. "They understand that they're in a very different situation here, a unique situation. We really have no control over where we're going to play the games.''