Oct 25

Mets’ GM search in second phase

Mets fans might have celebrated hollow victories over the weekend when the Yankees and Phillies were eliminated from the postseason on consecutive nights, the final out in each game coming on a called third strike. Alex Rodriguez one night; Ryan Howard the other.

Of course, rooting against the Yankees and Phillies is futile work, as it does nothing toward the improvement of the Mets.

However, the most important development lately has been the narrowing of the GM candidates to Josh Byrnes and Sandy Alderson.

Byrnes will interview with ownership, including Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, today, and Alderson will be on stage tomorrow. Both are highly regarded and will inherit a team with a high payroll and a myriad of issues.

Neither will be able to turn the program around in a year, and such a promise hasn’t been made by either in the first round of interviews.

Both GM candidates indicate Wally Backman is on their list of prospective managerial candidates, which parallels the Wilpon’s thinking. That is not to say Backman is a given, but he will get an honest shot. There are several things about Backman that concern me, most is the perception he is the Wilpon pick and he’s being forced on to the new general manager. My preference for Backman is to be promoted to bench coach and work under an experienced manager.

The new GM will inherit a team slightly below .500, meaning there is reason to be optimistic about improvement should all the pieces fall into place, notably the healthy returns of Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran, continued development from Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese, and an encore from RA Dickey. The Mets aren’t void of talent, and improvement should occur, but they are still behind the Phillies and Braves, but those teams have their own issues.

A GM decision could be made as soon the off day following Game 2, which is a travel day in the World Series. As written here before, the GM candidates have their thinking on the manager, so that process should turn around rather quickly.

The first order of offseason business might night be conducted by assistant GM John Ricco and Jeff Wilpon, and that would be the re-signing of reliever Hisanori Takahashi. The Mets have until Oct. 31 to re-sign Takahashi, otherwise he can become a free agent.

Takahashi did everything the Mets asked of him last season as a starter or in a variety of bullpen roles, but the left-hander prefers to start. The Mets could promise him a chance to compete for a starting job in spring training or they could overpay to keep him in the pen.

Reportedly, Takahashi is seeking a two-year deal and he’s worth it based on what he did in 2010.

Oct 22

Mets’ managerial interviews taking place in their own way.

One of the questions undoubtedly asked of the GM candidates by Mets ownership during the interview process are their thoughts on the manager. No way a candidate doesn’t go into an interview with Jeff Wilpon without some idea as to who he wants as manager.

Some names would not come as a surprise; others might cause some wonder.

None of these candidates are without ideas and contacts. The way these things work at times is the GM candidate might tell a potential manager, “hey, I’m being considered by the Mets. If I get it I’d like to talk to you about being manager. Hang tight.”

If the relationship between the potential GM and potential manager is close – perhaps they have even worked together before – much of the leg work is already done. This should speed up the process when the Mets finally make their GM hire.

I still like Sandy Alderson because he has the largest body of successful work and would bring the most to the table right away. The Mets are still hoping they’d like to get this done by the end of the World Series.

Although it would have been great to have this taken care of sooner, but getting the right man is the most important thing.

Oct 21

Will new GM consider Sandberg?

Whomever the Mets choose as their general manager –  indications are Sandy Alderson has the inside track – he’ll have a long list of managerial candidates to consider.

SANDBERG: Could be considered for manager job

Add Ryne Sandberg to that list. The Cubs bypassed Sandberg for Mike Quade, and the Hall of Fame second baseman is not pleased and he’ll obviously listen to other offers.

He’s done everything the Cubs asked of him in preparation for the opportunity to manage in the major leagues, including working his way up the minor league chain, from Single A to Triple A, with success, including being named Pacific Coast League manager of the year.

Sandberg does not have the major league experience advocated here and in other forums, but we don’t know how much that criteria will be weighed by the new general manager. If that is lower on his priority list, Sandberg would undoubtedly receive consideration, as will Wally Backman.

It’s all speculation for now, and some of it will fall on Sandberg.

Oct 20

Mets need to make most of K-Rod situation

Of course, the Mets would have preferred not to pay Francisco Rodriguez anything, but they obviously didn’t think they’d win that battle which is why they worked out a settlement. If they were confident of winning it stands to reason they would have pursued this matter further, even to the point of arbitration.

So, they save $3.1 million in salary for the end of last season, but will owe him $11.5 million for 2011, with an option for $17.5 million for 2012 should he finish 55 games, something he is sure to do if he’s healthy and the Mets are competitive.

Based on what they did this summer, I see the Mets being in a competitive situation meaning Rodriguez will get his opportunities. I can’t see the Mets playing games and shutting him down to avoid the appearance clause if they are having a good season.

That a solution was reached was desirable, and that Rodriguez will play winter ball to test himself rather than wait until spring training is a good decision.

Unlike Oliver Perez, Rodriguez can still be productive and if winter ball answers all the pertinent questions it alleviates a potential hole.

Rather than a protracted fight which does nobody any good, this was the best possible solution.

Oct 19

Why isn’t Fred talking with Alderson again?

I’ve been hearing there are no plans for Fred Wilpon and/or Saul Katz to speak with Sandy Alderson during his second interview and that has me wondering.

Why not? Isn’t there anything else they can ask of Alderson? Maybe Alderson has some questions of his own. Either way, I would’ve hoped Fred Wilpon, who said, “the buck stops with me,” would’ve wanted to get more involved in the interview process.

I don’t know what questions Fred and Katz asked the first time, if any, but I keep hearing the candidates met with Jeff Wilpon and John Ricco. I haven’t heard about Fred’s input in the interview process, but I would like to know what it is and what questions he might have asked.