The upcoming week for the Mets will be the most important for the franchise since probably mid-July, when they first began slipping out of the postseason race. It also has greater long-term implications. The ownership group will interview four candidates for the vacant general manager position, the start of a process the Mets hope to finish before the start of the World Series on Oct. 27.
At this stage, Sandy Alderson, 62, appears to be the favorite. Alderson not only has the most experience, having built a perennial winner with the Athletics before working as CEO of the Padres, but has the backing of commissioner Bud Selig. Alderson has the desire to be a GM again, a job he hasn't held since 1998, and his new grandchild in New Jersey could lure him to this area from his San Diego home.
The Mets have not revealed their schedule for the week, other than to say who is coming in for interviews, but Alderson is likely to be at the end because he is planning on Thursday or Friday. Also scheduled are White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn, Red Sox assistant Allard Baird and former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes.
Hahn, who has spent nine years with the White Sox, is highly regarded and interviewed for the Cardinals' GM opening in 2007 before withdrawing his name.
Baird spent six years as the Royals' GM and is best known for trading Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye before being fired in 2006.
Byrnes was considered a rising young star when he was hired in 2005 by Arizona at the age of 35, but the Diamondbacks fired him earlier this season with five years left on his contract extension.
The Mets have said they will wait to have a GM in place before hiring a manager, but it is believed that Wally Backman still is a favorite for the job after one season with Class A Brooklyn this year.