Dec 16

Second base situation a good sign

It’s a good sign when Terry Collins said the Mets’ second base job is wide open on several fronts, perhaps most importantly because it signals a willingness to cut ties with Luis Castillo if he doesn’t carry his own weight.

If the Mets aren’t able to swing a deal – and who really expects that to happen? – then a willingness to eat the $6 million contract is a positive development.

As of now, Daniel Murphy, Rule 5 pickup from Toronto Brad Emaus, Castillo, and Justin Turner will be in the mix. Minus will be Ruben Tejada, who showed he could do the job with his glove but not the bat.

Murphy probably has the most potential obviously, but is learning the position. Emaus must remain on the 25-man roster or be returned to the Blue Jays, but the Mets have so many holes that carrying a utility infielder might be a reach.

That could mean Turner could slot in as a sleeper.

The encouraging thing to me is that if Castillo doesn’t earn the job outright, that the Mets are now willing to cut their losses. They’ll still pay the money, but would rid themselves of a non-productive player.

And, hopefully, that will follow through with Oliver Perez. Keep a good thought.

Nov 22

Mets to tab Collins as manager

Terry Collins is 61 years old and hasn’t managed in the major leagues in 11 years, but will become the 20th manager in Mets’ history.

I’m happy about the selection and don’t believe for a second the team doesn’t have its fingers on the pulse of its fans, many of whom remain infatuated with 1986 and preferred Wally Backman get the job.

I’m pleased with the selection because it showed the Mets followed through on their promise to make a thoughtful decision and didn’t cave to make the popular pick, the easy pick just to placate the emotions in the stands.

Doing so could have set the team back several years.

Sandy Alderson knows more about what’s going on than the fans and the media. He has a proven track record and was hired to rebuild this franchise. I trust he knows what he’s doing and want to see how things develop before trashing his pick.

Alderson conducted an exhaustive search of ten candidates before narrowing it down to Collins, Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Backman. Collins’ reputation is one of being fiery – the description of Backman, who has 444 less career major league wins as a manager – and of being solid in player development, essential for a team looking to rebuild.

Hale is expected to remain with the organization, but no word yet on what will become of Melvin and Backman. Both worked for the Mets last season and could be brought back.

Alderson has a rebuilding plan and it won’t happen overnight. Collins will be given a two-year contract, time enough to lay a strong foundation.

The Mets are a team in transition. Their first step was to add a well-respected front office, which has now made it first move.

Let’s see how it works.

Nov 15

Collins emerges as frontrunner

With Clint Hurdle hired to manage the Pittsburgh Pirates, it is becoming more apparent that Terry Collins has become the frontrunner to land the Mets job.

The Mets really liked the job Collins did as minor league field coordinator, a position that gives him an advantage because of his familiarity with the minor league system. Bob Melvin, who was an AL scout for the Mets last season, is next in line.

Reportedly, both are ahead of Wally Backman because of their major league managerial experience.

It has also been reported Melvin could be in line to become bench coach, with Dave Jauss assuming Collins’ old role. It is believed Dan Warthen and Chip Hale will remain from Jerry Manuel’s staff.

Oct 27

Mets to name Alderson

He was the favorite from the moment he announced his interest in the job, and a formality after being endorsed by commissioner Bud Selig. Although the Mets have not officially done so, the announcement of Sandy Alderson for the organization’s GM position is forthcoming – Friday during the World Series travel day.

ALDERSON: It's a new day.

Alderson beat out Josh Byrnes for the job, so it was a win-win for the Mets regardless. The Mets ran a thorough search, interviewing a long list of qualified candidates. It’s hard to think any of the choices would have been bad, but Alderson is off the charts.

Alderson has a sterling reputation in the sport having brought winning to Oakland and San Diego, and with his work in MLB and in Latin America. Alderson brings credibility to an organization that has long needed it; he brings decisiveness and toughness which has long been lacking.

Perhaps, above all, he brings with him the tools for change and the knowledge it won’t come overnight. Rebuilding the Mets will be a long process as several bulky contracts will weigh the team down for any immediate influx of talent in 2011.

Alderson is 62, but that’s a number. He’s a progressive thinker who has done it. His reputation is such that he’ll bring in quality people and implement a system that works.

I really like this move because it is no a quick fix. He isn’t the flavor-of-the-month the way Omar Minaya was when he took over.

The Mets are immediately better today because they sent the message they are serious and the rest of baseball believes them.

Oct 14

Don’t bank on Backman

Following the Mets’ GM search brings a couple of thoughts to mind.

BACKMAN: Would he be a gimmick hire?

I don’t see the Mets hiring Sandy Alderson plus Rick Hahn, as has been suggested.  I believe the job is Alderson’s for the taking, which would enable him to help groom John Ricco to be his successor. I don’t think they’ll end up hiring one assistant GM (Hahn) when they won’t interview their current assistant GM. If they did, they’ll take a risk at losing Ricco.

Because of Logan White’s proficiency in scouting, I can see him joining Alderson.

Whomever, the Mets hire as their general manager, I’m beginning to think Wally Backman won’t be hired as their manager if the new guy has the autonomy the Wilpons have promised. I’ve seen several list of the top managerial candidates and Backman hasn’t been on any of them.

I keep hearing about Backman’s spit and fire, but he’s not the only fiery personality out there, and that’s not the primary quality in a manager. The ability to motivate isn’t confined to yelling and over turning the food spread in the clubhouse. There’s also game management and dealing with player personalities.

Backman has not proven he can be that on a major league level, and with a team in transition such as the Mets a veteran presence is the best option. Like the general manager, I’d prefer a manager with a track record, one who could groom Backman by bringing him on as a bench coach.

This isn’t to say Backman won’t eventually become an accomplished major league manager, but I don’t believe this is the right time. There’s still too much for Backman to learn, and a rebuilding situation like the Mets isn’t the best place to start. I keep hearing about Backman’s fire and the ties to the 1986 championship team, but that sounds more and more like a gimmick hire.

I just don’t see a new general manager tying his success to an unproven manager.