With the general manager meetings underway, the Mets are currently in the midst of figuring out who will be leading the team for 2011 and beyond. Sandy Alderson and his new group of front office gurus have interviewed about 10 candidates and they have narrowed the list of second round interviewees down to four.
Terry Collins, Bob Melvin, Wally Backman and Chip Hale will be called back to give one last push to Alderson and company and explain why they should be the ones to lead the Mets. Collins and Melvin are the perceived front runners. However, it has been reported that both Hale and Backman surprised Alderson with their strong interviews. Either way, the Mets should know who will be the man at the helm by Thanksgiving. Hopefully Mets fans will be giving thanks for their newly anointed manager.
TERRY COLLINS: Many believe that Collins will end up with the manager job for various reasons. Collins served as the Mets’ minor league coordinator last year, and has received rave reviews for his work in the organization. Collins is known for his fire and many liken him to Mets fan favorite Bobby Valentine. While Collins is intriguing, and has ties to a few of the Mets players, he previously managed the Astros and Angels and has had mixed results. After he was hired by the Astros in 1993, he led the team to three straight second place finishes. But his tenure with the Angels ended in fire as his clubhouse fell apart around him. Many question if Collins is the right choice to lead the current group of players, and while he is intriguing, I’m not completely sold on him yet. Collins is also favored by new Mets front office appointee Paul DePodesta, which could be the deciding factor of this search. Some believe that Collins is also being considered because of his intensity that he would bring to an otherwise stagnant clubhouse.
BOB MELVIN: Melvin is considered a front-runner for the job because of his previous managerial experience as the head coach of the Diamondbacks and Mariners. Melvin also had mixed records over the course of his managerial career- which includes high points and low points. Melvin’s first gig was as the Mariners’ head coach in 2003. He led the Mariners to a 93-69 record, but the M’s narrowly missed the playoffs. The Mariners never recaptured the magic of that year, and over the course of the next year the team began a tailspin which ended in a 99 loss season in 2004. Melvin was let go at the end of that season, but soon signed on as the manager of the young Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks finished in 2nd place during his first year, but in 2007 the team lost in the NLCS and narrowly missed a World Series berth. Melvin was fired by the D’backs in 2009 after the team started off to a 12-17 record. The Mets hired Melvin as a scout (or as a potential manager should Jerry Manuel have been fired mid-season) last offseason, and he impressed the Mets higher-ups. “The Mad Scientist,” as Melvin is known as for the different (successful) lineup changes he concocts, could be a calm and collected manager that potentially would be the answer the Mets have been looking for. However, I see Melvin as more of a bench coach candidate than anything.
WALLY BACKMAN: Ah, Wally Backman. Ever since his hiring last year to manage the Mets single A affiliate in Brooklyn, Backman has garnered a cult-like following amongst the Mets fan base, while also becoming a polarizing figure when his name is discussed. Some believe that Backman would bring the Mets an instant jolt of energy and intensity that would ripple down throughout the roster and revitalize the team. They often cite players like new Atlanta Brave Dan Uggla who say that Backman brings the best out of his players and always has their back, and in return the team plays its heart out for him. Others believe that awarding Backman a major league job after a single season at A ball would be premature and irresponsible. Both sides of the argument are interesting and are certainly valid points. I would like to see Backman rise through the Mets minor league system over the next few years, and potentially overtake the manager’s position in the future. I think there is no question that Backman possesses the skills to become a top notch manager, but I question his ability to jump from low minor leagues to the majors.
CHIP HALE: The dark horse, and my personal choice for the Mets’ managerial position Chip Hale, served as the Mets’ third base coach last season and instantly made a good impression on an otherwise disappointing team. It is said that Hale is motivated and energetic, and many see him as a future manager. The question that Alderson and his front office need to ask themselves is if that future is now. Hale has the qualities, like passion and fire, that Backman has, but seems to be less public about it (you will know what I mean if you have seen Backman’s quite famous argument with an umpire. Check it out on YouTube.) Hale started his managerial career in the Diamondbacks’ system and slowly rose through it, winning at every level he managed at. In 2002 the Diamondbacks’ El Paso AA team had their league’s best record and in 2006 Hale managed the D’Backs’ AAA team to a league championship. Besides his previous awards and success, Hale has something all of the other candidates have – a relationship with the current Mets roster. Hale is said to have a strong connection to many of the players on the team, which could go a long way in turning the Mets’ ship in a different direction. If I had to choose the Mets next manager, it would be Hale.