By Ed Coleman
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Well, my choice for manager will be in one of my favorite parks, PNC in Pittsburgh, next season - shanghaied by the Pirates over the weekend, unable to wait any longer for the slow and steady process (and proper, by the way) that the Mets are going through to select their new field boss.
Texas G.M. Jon Daniels – a local guy – was not going to secure the Mets G.M. opening because his club ended up in the World Series – timing is everything. And Hurdle was probably not going to get the manager’s gig in New York despite an impressive first interview and a certain callback for the second round.
The Pirates were slow to present an offer to Hurdle (he did not have one as of last Friday), but he was the guy they wanted all along. They waited over two weeks after their last interview (current Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca) to talk to the former Texas hitting instructor and Rockies manager, and the only other candidate left on the board was a Pittsburgh organizational guy named Jeff Banister (who? – exactly), whom the Pirates would have been tarred and feathered for hiring.
So forget the external candidates and bring on the in-house boys – the Mets’ Final Four is down to Terry Collins, Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Wally Backman. Three of the four – Collins, Hale and Backman – were interviewed solely by Mets G.M. Sandy Alderson while he was in California. That means that during the second round of interviews – possibly to be completed by the end of this week – those three will also meet and be questioned by Paul DePodesta, J.P. Ricciardi, John Ricco and Wayne Krivsky, along with Mets C.O.O. Jeff Wilpon. Melvin was previously interviewed in New York at Citi Field.
Collins is believed to be the front-runner on most people’s scorecards. The Mets current minor league field co-ordinator is a no-nonsense, extremely organized individual who pays great attention to detail. Leadership, enthusiasm and motivation are traits that Alderson is looking for, and Collins possesses all of those and more. The Mets have been accused of diminishing professionalism over the last several seasons – insufficient preparation, not enough structure and a lack of discipline. The Mets believe the four they have selected for callback interviews can all change that syndrome and mindset. If you were to handicap the field after Collins, it would probably be Melvin, Hale and Backman in that order.
If Collins does indeed get the job, expect this year’s bench coach Dave Jauss to take over for Collins as the minor league field co-ordinator. Hale would likely remain the third base coach, while Tim Tuefel would probably be promoted to first base coach. and Dan Warthen would likely return as the pitching coach. Keep in mind that this process has dragged on probably longer than anyone would have anticipated, and it’s patently unfair to have in-house candidates strung along and then cast aside, while all the other major league jobs are gobbled up ( no Thanksgiving pun intended). Speaking of Turkey Day, there’s an outside chance that things could be resolved by then, which didn’t seem possible just a few days ago.
Trades and signings – the Mets’ National League East opponents have been busy. The Phillies have signed reliever Jose Contreras, whom several teams were pursuing hotly. The Marlins signed catcher John Buck, who broke out in Toronto this past season. And the Braves acquired 2B Dan Uggla from Florida in an intra-division deal for All-Star utilityman Omar Infante and young flame-throwing reliever Mike Dunn.
First take – the Marlins didn’t get enough for Uggla – Atlanta sold high on Infante off a career year (always good) and we’ll see about Dunn who has a high ceiling. Uggla will undoubtedly get you 30 & 100, but one of the Braves’ big problems last season was their defense, and Uggla doesn’t improve that at all. The Marlins do continue to do one thing well and that’s re-tool their bullpen – they’ve already added Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica from San Diego (for Cameron Maybin), Dustin Richardson from the Red Sox organization and now Dunn.
Here’s to having a manager along with the cranberry sauce next Thursday!
C U soon
- Backman, Collins Among 4 Finalists For Mets Manager (newyork.cbslocal.com)