Updated: 11/22/10 6:49 a.m.
NEW YORK (AP/WFAN) — Terry Collins is a major league manager once again, hired by the New York Mets to help revitalize a franchise that has struggled on the field and at the gate.
A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press of the hire on condition of anonymity Sunday because the two sides were still working out terms of the contract. The person said an announcement is expected early in the week.
According to WFAN’s Jon Heyman, the Mets have offered Collins a 2-year deal.
Collins was chosen over a group of finalists that included Wally Backman, Chip Hale and Bob Melvin. He takes over for Jerry Manuel, who was fired along with general manager Omar Minaya in a restructuring of the front office following another dismal season.
The Mets already have hired Sandy Alderson as their new general manager, and former major league GMs Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi as his assistants. All of them had input in the decision to hire the 61-year-old Collins, who has not managed in the major leagues in 11 years.
Collins interviewed for the second time with chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, Alderson and his assistants on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., where major league owners and GMs were meeting.
The other finalists also were brought in for a second round of interviews.
“It’s not just a question of who we are. It’s a question of who we want to be as an organization,” Alderson said earlier this week. “It was interesting for us to find out whether that vision was shared by others. And in some cases, it might have been confirmed. In some cases, it might have caused us to rethink what we had ourselves imagined.”
Collins is certainly familiar with the Mets roster after serving as their minor league field coordinator this past season. He also has some experience with the front office, after nearly succeeding Jim Tracy as Los Angeles Dodgers manager five years ago when DePodesta was the club’s general manager. That plan fell apart when DePodesta was fired.
Collins also was considered for the Mets job when Willie Randolph was hired before the 2005 season. He managed the Houston Astros from 1994-96 and the Anaheim Angels from 1997-99, going 444-434 and finishing second in the division five of his six years in charge.
He takes over a Mets franchise that had a $133 million payroll last season yet finished 79-83, 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.
The organization is expected to undergo a complete overhaul the next couple of years, as Alderson and his lieutenants begin to rebuild a weak farm system and find ways to escape from under the weight of burdensome contracts doled out to underperforming players like Oliver Perez ($36 million) and Luis Castillo ($25 million).
Injuries left the team in disarray last season, and at least some of those problems will linger when the Mets convene for spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Star pitcher Johan Santana is expected to miss the start of the season following shoulder surgery, while Jason Bay, signed to a $66 million contract last offseason, will be coming back from a season-ending concussion sustained in late July. Outfielder Carlos Beltran, slowed by a bad knee, is owed $18.5 million in the final season of his seven-year deal.
In the bullpen, closer Francisco Rodriguez is coming off thumb surgery for an injury sustained in an August fight with his girlfriend’s father outside the family lounge at Citi Field.
The Mets evidently believe Collins is the right fit to pull all those seemingly disparate pieces together, and perhaps return interest to a club that watched as attendance plummeted last season in its second year at Citi Field.
Tune in to WFAN Tuesday for the Mets’ press conference to officially announce the hiring of Collins.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.