- Adam Rubin, ESPNNewYork.com
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NEW YORK -- The next general manager of the New York Mets will be Sandy Alderson or Josh Byrnes.
Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon announced Friday that the original list of six interviewees had been pared to the final two. They will return to New York next week to meet with principal owner Fred Wilpon, team president Saul Katz and Jeff Wilpon next week.
Byrnes, the former GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks, will have his second-round interview Monday. Alderson, the former GM of the Oakland Athletics and CEO of the San Diego Padres, is scheduled for his second-round interview the following day.
Alderson has been considered the front-runner since the beginning of the process. He is currently leading Major League Baseball's effort to clean up Latin American operations. He has an advocate in commissioner Bud Selig, who is close with Fred Wilpon.
Jeff Wilpon and acting GM John Ricco conducted first-round interviews over the past week and a half with six candidates. Boston Red Sox assistant GM Allard Baird, Toronto Blue Jays special assistant Dana Brown, Chicago White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn and Los Angeles Dodgers assistant GM Logan White were informed Friday the process will continue without them.
"John Ricco and I spoke personally with Allard Baird, Rick Hahn, Logan White and Dana Brown earlier today to thank them for their interest and taking the time to interview with us," Jeff Wilpon said in a statement.
White had confirmed to ESPNLosAngeles.com that he was "out of the Mets picture."
Hahn said: "All things considered, including several factors unique to the Mets' current situation, I certainly understand the decision to go another direction. I truly appreciate being invited to discuss the opportunity, directly and candidly with Jeff Wilpon and others in the Mets front office. And I believe Mets fans should be optimistic about the club's future, regardless of which of the remaining excellent candidates they ultimately choose."
Byrnes, 40, beat out Kevin Towers and joined the Diamondbacks as GM in November 2005 after being groomed with the Red Sox under Theo Epstein. He began shaping Arizona that offseason by acquiring Orlando Hudson from the Toronto Blue Jays for Troy Glaus and Chris Young from the White Sox for Javier Vazquez.
A Haverford College graduate, Byrnes understands the sabermetric side of baseball, but he also relies heavily on the eyes of his scouts.
In Byrnes' second season at the helm in 2007, the Diamondbacks reached the National League Championship Series before getting swept by the Colorado Rockies. Arizona was outscored that season, but had tremendous success behind a solid bullpen that included Jose Valverde, Brandon Lyon and Tony Pena.
That offseason, Byrnes aggressively maneuvered to try to get the Diamondbacks to the next level. He obtained Dan Haren from the Athletics for a six-player package that included Carlos Gonzalez. Byrnes then made midseason deals to acquire Jon Rauch and Adam Dunn. However, Arizona stumbled and finished 82-80. With ace Brandon Webb limited to one start because of shoulder woes, the Diamondbacks then had 92 losses, identical to the Mets, in 2009. Webb had posted 22 wins in '08.
Byrnes was fired on July 1 of this season despite having more than five years remaining on an eight-year contract. The Diamondbacks went 349-378 in his four-plus seasons in charge.
Byrnes' relationship with Arizona CEO Derrick Hall had deteriorated later in his GM tenure, which contributed to his ouster. Still, Byrnes has been praised for his money management with an organization that annually had payrolls hovering around $70 million -- aside from handing Eric Byrnes a three-year, $30 million contract. In one case, Byrnes pulled a $52 million extension off the table from Webb because of concerns about the shoulder.
Alderson, 62, attended Dartmouth College on an ROTC scholarship at the height of the Vietnam War protests and graduated in 1969. He served in Vietnam in the First Marine Regimen and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1976 upon returning.
Afterward, Alderson spent five years at the San Francisco law firm Farella, Braun & Martel, where he helped the Athletics in the preparation of arbitration cases. He left the firm to become the team's general counsel in October 1981 and became general manager in September 1983 at age 35.
Alderson did not play competitive baseball after his freshman year at Dartmouth and had a legal background, but he applied his intellectual acumen to baseball. His introduction of analytical tools is chronicled in Michael Lewis' book "Moneyball" about the Athletics' use of statistics to exploit the game's inefficiencies. The philosophy centered on on-base percentage and involved all batters -- no matter their spot in the order -- taking pitches and acting like leadoff hitters.
"I couldn't do a regressions analysis," Alderson is quoted in the book, referring to the statistical analyses, "but I knew what one was. And the results of them made sense to me."
Alderson believes strongly in a top-down approach, where managers execute the philosophies of the GM. Tony La Russa and Art Howe were hired as managers of the Athletics during his tenure.
"In what other business do you leave the fate of the organization to a middle manager?" he is quoted as asking in the book.
Under Alderson, Oakland developed three straight rookies of the year -- Jose Canseco in 1986, Mark McGwire in '87 and Walt Weiss in '88.
Oakland won 104 games in 1988, 99 games in '89 and 103 games in '90 and reached the World Series all three years, winning one title.
Alderson remained GM in Oakland until 1997. In 2005, he was hired as the Padres CEO and served in that capacity for nearly four years.
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Tony Jackson, ESPNChicago.com and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
4hAdam Lewis, Special to ESPN.com