New York Mets Manager Search: Terry Collins in Front, Backman a Close Second

Christopher HowlandCorrespondent IIINovember 8, 2010

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 29:  (L - R) Saul Katz, CEO of the Mets, Fred Wilpon, president of the Mets, Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon, chief operating officer of the Mets pose for a photo during Alderson's introduction as the general manager for the New York Mets on October 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

When Sandy Alderson commented at his press conference that he was looking for a "fiery manager," it seemed that Wally Backman was most likely to be his man.

Now weeks removed from Alderson's introductory press conference, it seems the tide has turned. As the new New York Mets GM makes his way back from California, the new front-runner for the managerial job doesn’t seem to be Backman, but rather former Houston Astros and Anaheim Angels manager Terry Collins.

Alderson traveled to California to complete his sports marketing lecture at UC Berkeley, but he was also out there to interview Wally Backman, Chip Hale and Terry Collins for the vacant manager job.

People close to Alderson and Mets officials believe that regardless of the attention given to the rest of the candidates, Terry Collins is "a strong candidate [or] the front-runner. I think it is possible that all the interviews are just covering bases and they already like Collins the best." (Courtesy of Joel Sherman,

The 61-year-old Collins, who owns a career 444-434 record, has strong endorsements behind him, including Fred Wilpon and Paul DePodesta, who view Collins as the experienced leader that the organization needs right now.

Alderson seems to prefer candidates with Major League experience, and that’s why names such as Bob Melvin, Don Wakamatsu and Collins have remained high on his list.

Regardless of likability, Collins does hold a winning record as a manager, but has failed to reach the playoffs with any team under his helm. He left the Astros in 1993, and the next three years they made the playoffs under former Mets manager Art Howe.

I don’t know how this would or could factor in the decision-making for the next Mets manager, but as of right now, it looks like Collins heads Alderson’s list of likely candidates.

I didn't know much about Collins until now, but Alderson speaks very highly of him, and being the intelligent man that Alderson is, I will have to trust his judgment.

It’s the streaky record and no postseason experience that resonates in my mind as the only negatives for Collins. But as new opportunity comes for this man, so does a new chance to show us what he’s got.

As for Backman, we hear the interview went very well, and he still holds the attention of Alderson to an extent.

He is a type of manager similar to Bobby Valentine, who could light a fire under the butts of the players and get them to play inspired baseball.

But even if he does change the culture and chemistry of this ballclub, if they don’t start to win from the get-go, players and fans could become skeptical of Backman’s coaching philosophy much like the players and fans turned on Jerry Manuel.

Backman seems like a thin line to walk for the Mets if they do indeed choose him as the next manager. He could either be incredibly helpful to this club or he could add to all the controversy that has already clouded the team.

That’s why I leave the big decisions to those who are getting paid to make them. I can only give my two cents.

This coming week, the search continues and Alderson is said to be interviewing internal candidates Tim Teufel and Ken Oberkfell, along with two external candidates, Don Wakamatsu and Clint Hurdle.

Check back later in the week to read full analysis and opinions of the ongoing search for the next New York Mets manager.