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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Manager Watch: Backman says interview with Sandy goes well, Collins might be the frontrunner for the job

Single-A Brooklyn manager Wally Backman was interviewed Saturday in San Diego for the Mets’ managerial opening.  He had a three-hour sit-down meeting with new Mets GM Sandy Alderson and, according to Peter Botte of the New York Daily News, it went smoothly.

"I thought it went very well," Backman told the Daily News Saturday night. "But out of respect to the Mets and the interview process, I'm not going to comment any further."

Backman led the Brooklyn Cyclones to a stellar 51-24 record this season and a playoff berth, but he has a checkered past that includes a DUI arrest, tax evasion and other financial and personal struggles. That past cost him a managing gig with the Diamondbacks in 2004.

Backman is the fans choice for the job, but many do not see him getting it like Jon Heyman of SI.com.
Collins with Fred Wilpon last spring

The Mets also interviewed former Astros and Angels manager Terry Collins this weekend as well.

He was 444-434 (.506) in six seasons managing the Astros and Angels, but hasn’t been a skipper in the big leagues since 1999.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, a person who has talked to Mets officials in recent days believes that Collins is anywhere from "a strong candidate to the front-runner. I think it is possible that all the interviews are just covering bases and they already like Collins the best."

Collins, 61, has several assets that favor his candidacy, including likely endorsements from powerful voices to Alderson: Fred Wilpon and Paul DePodesta.

He was the preferred candidate of DePodesta, then the Dodgers general manager, to replace Jim Tracy after the 2005 season. But DePodesta was fired, in part because owner Frank McCourt said he did not like the managerial candidates lined up by DePodesta. Grady Little ultimately got the manager's job. DePodesta was a key advisor to Alderson with the Padres, and Alderson is trying to import DePodesta away from San Diego to the Mets, right now.

According to Joel Sherman,  his days working in the Dodgers farm system in the 1980s, Collins has a long-standing relationship with Sandy Koufax, who is buddies with Wilpon. When Koufax visited Mets camp in Port St. Lucie last spring, the Hall-of-Fame lefty said he was there to visit Collins, not Wilpon.

Anyone who has been around the Mets knows the reverence with which Wilpon holds Koufax and how much Koufax's word means to the Mets owner.

Even though my choice would be Clint Hurdle, it looks a though it might be Collins who has the upper hand because of all his Mets ties and endorsements.

The Mets still have Chip Hale to be interviewed this weekend and they still have external candidates like Clint Hurdle on the board for next week. Hurdle looks as though he can get the Pirates job if he wants it. 

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