Folks, it looks like we are only two or three days away from finding out who will manage the New York Mets next season and beyond. According to many tweets I read the past 24 hours from the NY baseball media, it is expected that Sandy Alderson and crew should be announcing their choice by the end of the weekend. More that likely, as Mike Francesa likes to say, the carving board will be out at Citi Field on Tuesday for an introductory press conference.
Now to the four finalists and their chance of claiming the gig. Let’s start out by reporting that the second round interviews ended a short time ago with the completion Terry Collins meeting with Mets brass. Bob Melvin, Wally Backman and Chip Hale were the other three finalists.
Rumblings have begun to surface over the past few days that Melvin may have leapfrogged Collins as the favorite to land the job. I am sure Mets fans are honky dory over this development. Word is that Sandy Alderson may be leaning toward the more even keel Melvin over the fiery Collins because he would be the safer bet. Let’s not discount Melvin’s resume either. Despite being dumped by the Arizona Diamondbacks a month into the 2009 season, let’s not forget the man took a young, upstart team to the NLCS in 2007 and was NL Manager of the Year that season. I know his name is not a sexy one, but he has a decent track record. Remember, last season when there were strong rumblings that Jerry Manuel was on the cusp of losing his job mid-season? All indicators pointed toward Melvin taking over for Jerry, so clearly the organization thinks highly of the man. Check out what Melvin had to say following his Wednesday pow-wow here.
For the past few weeks, Terry Collins has widely been considered the favorite to take over the Mets managerial slot. I don’t want to rehash the reasons why he had emerged as the favorite so check them out in a previous blog entry here. I’m not saying he still won’t get the job. Based on a specific comment he gave the folks who caught up with him after his interview with Mets brass a few hours ago, you’d now have to be skeptical. As per Adam Rubin of ESPNNY.com, here is what Collins had to say.
"“This organization has done itself very, very proud. They’ve drafted some good kids. They’ve signed some good, young players. And I enjoyed it a lot. The whole thing about getting to know our minor league system — whether it’s me or whoever it is — I can certainly help whoever is going to manage this team, for sure.”"
I may be reading into it a bit too much, but this quote sure doesn’t sound like it’s coming from a guy very confident in his chances. Can’t say I’d be all that upset if Collins is passed over, though I do think his fiery nature would be something the Mets need very badly to change their laissez faire clubhouse culture. The rest of his post interview transcript can be found here.
As for Chip Hale and Wally Backman, it seemed unlikely from the start that either had a real good chance to land the job. You never know, maybe one will pull a big upset, but everything we are hearing is that the race is between Melvin and Collins. Backman is obviously the sentimental favorite of many Mets fans but all along it has been said that Alderson is looking for someone with Major League managerial experience to captain the ship. I bet even Wally knows he was kept in the mix til the end just to placate the wounded fanbase. More than likely, Backman will be given a promotion in the Mets minor league system to manage the Class A St. Lucie team or even up to Double AA Binghamton. Check out his post interview transcript here.
I think the Mets legitimately like Chip Hale and envision him as a manager somewhere, someday. If the team was in a different spot in their growth and financial state, maybe he would have been the favorite for the job. You just get the distinct feeling that the Mets hierarchy is not in any mood to take a chance on someone who does not have tenure as a big league skipper. This is no disrespect to Hale, who in all likelihood would stay on the Mets major league staff in some important role (bench coach?).
So the final deliberations now begin. By the time you sit down with the fam on Thursday and stuff your face with turkey and all the trimmings, the Mets should have a new manager, of whom we may or may not give thanks to in the coming days and months.