NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Mets have narrowed their search for a new general manager to longtime baseball executive Sandy Alderson and former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes.
Byrnes will meet with Mets owner Fred Wilpon, team president Saul Katz and chief operating office Jeff Wilpon on Monday, while Alderson will get his second chance to impress them when he interviews for the second time on Tuesday.
The team is searching for a replacement for Omar Minaya, who was fired along with manager Jerry Manuel earlier this month, after the Mets and their $133 million payroll finished 79-83 and 18 games behind the rival Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East.
New York hasn’t been to the playoffs since reaching the 2006 NL championship series.
“We are bringing back Josh Byrnes and Sandy Alderson for a second round of interviews with Fred, Saul and me,” Jeff Wilpon said in a brief statement Friday.
The team also discussed the vacant general manager job with Red Sox assistant GM Allard Baird, White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn, Blue Jays assistant GM Dana Brown and Los Angeles Dodgers scouting director Logan White.
The Mets informed all four of them Friday that they were out of the running.
The 62-year-old Alderson was the Oakland Athletics’ general manager when they won the World Series in 1989, and became one of the first front-office executives to focus on sabremetrics and advanced statistical research to help identify undervalued players.
He left for the commissioner’s office in 1998, where he served as vice president of operations until 2005, and spent time as the San Diego Padres’ chief executive officer. He currently is in charge of baseball’s efforts to reform operations in the Dominican Republic.
Byrnes also has plenty of experience running a club.
After working for the Indians and Rockies organizations, Byrnes spent time under Red Sox GM Theo Epstein before taking over the Diamondbacks in 2005. He was only 35 when he was hired and considered one of the rising stars in baseball management. The club had the best record in the National League when it advanced to the NL Championship Series in 2007.
Arizona signed Byrnes to an extension through 2015, but things quickly unraveled. The team was in last place and 12½ games out of first when he was fired July 1.
Whomever the Mets choose will have plenty of work to do.
They’ll be tasked with hiring a replacement for Manuel and revamping an organization that has been hobbled by injuries to star players, a weak farm system and signing underperforming players like Oliver Perez ($36 million) and Luis Castillo ($25 million) to big contracts.
The new GM will also need to win over fans who have wearied of embarrassing news on and off the field, such as All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez’s run-in with his girlfriend’s father, which resulted in a torn ligament in his thumb and a lengthy suspension.
New York averaged just 32,402 fans this season, a decline of more than 16 percent from its first season at $800 million Citi Field. The attendance drop was the second-most by percentage in baseball behind only the Cleveland Indians.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
Statement from Mets COO Jeff Wilpon:
“We are bringing back Josh Byrnes and Sandy Alderson for a second round of interviews with Fred, Saul and me. Josh is scheduled for Monday and Sandy for Tuesday as we continue our search for the next General Manager of the Mets.
John Ricco and I spoke personally with Allard Baird, Rick Hahn, Logan White and Dana Brown earlier today to thank them for their interest and taking the time to interview with us.”