Mets' manager search down to 4

11/17/2010 - MLB New York Mets

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Terry Collins, Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Wally Backman will be called back for second-round managerial interviews with the New York Mets this week, assistant GM John Ricco announced Tuesday night.

"Some veterans guys and some new guys," Ricco said. "Kind of a good mix."

Ricco said the order of candidates had not been established, but every effort will be made to complete the interviews this week in Orlando. Collins is in the Dominican Republic, Melvin in New York, Hale in Arizona and Backman in Oregon.

"We're currently working on logistics of lining those up," Ricco said. "... We're going to make every attempt [to complete interviews this week], but there's really nothing over our head to say we have to."

Ricco indicated that the four finalists having existing ties to the organization was not intended.

"That's kind of the way it worked out, and we're fine with that," Ricco said.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday at the GM meetings that he hoped to have the second-round interviews completed by the time front-office officials leave the GM meetings on Thursday, although Alderson did not rule out staying in Florida until Friday to complete that process.

"The first round is officially closed," Alderson said. "We hope to bring back several candidates over the balance of this week. If everything goes as we hope, we could have the second round completed by the end of the week. There won't need to be a Round 3. ... I would say right now that it's very possible we'd have a manager announced by Thanksgiving."

Alderson, who is commuting to Orlando each day in order to be in St. Petersburg with his
family following the death of his father, will conduct the second interviews with Ricco, vice president of player development and scouting Paul DePodesta and special assistant J.P. Ricciardi. Owner Fred Wilpon, team president Saul Katz and chief operating Jeff Wilpon -- the owner's son -- may participate in some of the second interviews.

"We're still talking about who will be in each one of them," Ricco said. "We all know them to varying degrees and have all met with them."

Organization sources label Collins the frontrunner to be named Jerry Manuel's successor as manager, with Melvin viewed as the most likely alternative.

Still, Alderson did not acknowledge a frontrunner existed.

"Certainly it's not a foregone conclusion, or we wouldn't be wasting our time with the number of candidates," Alderson said. "It's open."

The Mets originally interviewed 10 candidates, although the pool dropped to nine when Clint Hurdle accepted the Pittsburgh Pirates managerial job. The other interviewees: Triple-A Buffalo manager Ken Oberkfell, bench coach Dave Jauss, Boston Red Sox third base coach DeMarlo Hale, former Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and St. Louis Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo.

Collins, 61, joined the organization this past season as minor league field coordinator and is highly regarded by the Mets ownership group. He managed the Houston Astros from 1994 to 1996 and the Anaheim Angels from 1997 to 1999, compiling a combined 444-434 record.

Melvin, 49, managed the Seattle Mariners in 2003 and 2004 and the Diamondbacks from 2005 to 2009, posting a combined 493-508 record. He was named NL Manager of the Year in 2007. Melvin served as a scout for the Mets this past season, monitoring the AL East and West. Melvin has lived in Manhattan during the offseason in recent years, where his daughter Alexi attended the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.

Chip Hale, 45, served as Mets third base coach this past season after serving in the same role with the Diamondbacks the previous three years. He managed Arizona's Triple-A Tucson affiliate from 2004 to 2006, and won the Pacific Coast League and Triple-A championships in the final of those three seasons while going 91-53. He is likely to remain in his current role as third base coach if he is passed over for the managerial job.

Backman, 51, managed Class A Brooklyn this past season after spending five years without a job in a major league organization. He had been hired as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the 2005 season, but was dismissed four days later when past transgressions came to light.

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.