FILE - New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel, right, watches...

FILE - New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel, right, watches his team bat against the Atlanta Braves with Ike Davis, rear, during the ninth inning. (Aug. 4, 2010) Credit: AP

Twenty games to go, after Mike Pelfrey and Ike Davis led the Mets to a 4-3 victory over the Phillies at Citi Field Saturday, but team ownership has been discussing 2011 and beyond for weeks now.

Changes will be made, as you know, and you can expect the first of a wave of announcements to come on Oct. 4 or Oct. 5, right after the season ends.

This situation is evolving, so we'll update the forecast when necessary. But as of now, here's how this crucial offseason looks, with the understanding that Omar Minaya very likely will be reassigned and Jerry Manuel won't be back as manager.

First, the new head of baseball operations is more likely to come from outside the organization. Don't place your bets on assistant general manager John Ricco or special assistant to the GM Wayne Krivsky.

Second, the new manager is more likely to be someone with Mets ties. Think Wally Backman or yes, even Bobby Valentine.

Let's start with manager names, because we know the reverence that Mets fans have for Valentine and the strong, mixed feelings that Backman generates.

Valentine, who hasn't managed in Major League Baseball since the Mets fired him after the 2002 season, has been mentioned in some of those aforementioned conversations, according to a person familiar with the club's thinking.

It doesn't sound as though Bobby V. is the favorite, however. The Mets will be hesitant to pay Valentine the "star manager" money (think about $3 million annually) that he deserves, and although Valentine and the Wilpons have maintained good relations the past eight years, there might be hesitance to re-enter into a working agreement.

Nevertheless, given that public relations and ticket sales will factor heavily into this decision - there are no new star players coming through that door, so the manager will be it - we can't discount Valentine II.

PR and ticket sales help Backman's cause, and the former second baseman doesn't have much leverage on the financial front, so that's not an issue. With Backman, it's simply a question of his readiness after only one year back in the Mets' organization. The team powers seem to think he's ready and aren't terribly concerned about Backman's reputation for being wild.

But before the team hires a manager, it must shake up its baseball operations department. Minaya, at the least, will lose power. He'll probably wind up in a scouting role and surrender his GM title after five years of mixed results and some questionable acquisitions.

Ricco will stay in the circle of decision-makers, but the sense among the higher-ups is that Ricco isn't ready to run his own show.

Krivsky ran the Reds and shouldn't have been fired after just over a year. But he simply hasn't endeared himself to ownership in this, his second stint with the Mets.

Terry Collins, the Mets' field coordinator, has impressed his bosses so much that he could get consideration as the GM. That seems a stretch, though.

The Mets want their new head of baseball operations - he or she could be "general manager" or could have a different title - to not only understand the market and possess a vision but to serve as the "bad cop" the organization so clearly lacked when the Francisco Rodriguez incident occurred.

Former Padres GM Kevin Towers is an obvious candidate, and other previously mentioned hot names around the game are Yankees vice president of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer and Dodgers assistant GM Logan White.

In filling these roles, the Mets need to find the right mix of intelligence and charisma. This is an ownership group that would prefer to stay in the background. The current baseball ops leadership has made that impossible.

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