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Mets, Alderson seem to have mutual needs

San Diego Padres CEO Sandy Alderson (L) addresses

San Diego Padres CEO Sandy Alderson (L) addresses the media while seated beside manager Bud Black (R). (March 14, 2008) Photo Credit: Getty Images

As Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon explained it last Monday, the decision to hire the next general manager will be a collaborative effort between himself, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and team president Saul Katz - just like any other major decision involving the Mets.

But the elder Wilpon may have left out one more important voice that is likely to affect the direction of the Mets' general manager hunt, and that is commissioner Bud Selig.

Not only are the two close, but Selig would like to see the Mets stabilized again, which is why Sandy Alderson has become such a prominent figure on the team's short list of candidates.

Otherwise, Selig would not be so willing to release Alderson from his duties in the Dominican Republic, where the former Athletics GM and Padres CEO has been working to institute reform in the development of young baseball players. The project is ongoing, as are its complicated problems. But Alderson plans to be in New York on Thursday or Friday to speak with the Mets about their opening.

Alderson, 62, has a different profile from the other three candidates the Mets will interview in the coming week: White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn, Red Sox assistant GM Allard Baird and former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes. That trio recently has been more involved in day-to-day club operations; Alderson has not been a general manager since he left the A's after the 1997 season.

When Alderson first came up for consideration, it was unclear if he would take the job. But Alderson, who lives in San Diego, could be attracted to this area because his daughter just gave birth in New Jersey.

As for why Alderson, at this stage, might want to tackle the Mets' considerable issues, one of his protégés provided a clue. Said Reds GM Walt Jocketty, who worked with Alderson in Oakland: "One thing I learned from him was about risk-taking. You've got to be able to take a risk from time to time to make yourself better."

With these revelations, getting him to accept an offer might not be as difficult as first imagined.

The Mets reportedly were rejected in efforts to interview two other established candidates.

Pat Gillick, the architect of the rebuilt Phillies, told on Friday that Jeff Wilpon had contacted him but that he was not interested in the job because of his desire to remain on the West Coast.

Former Mets executive Gerry Hunsicker, who as Astros GM led that team to four NL Central titles, also said he did not want to be considered for the job.

The hiring of the next general manager also will have an impact on the future of Mets assistant GM John Ricco, who currently has the interim tag, and former Mets GM Omar Minaya.

The Mets did not consider Ricco as a permanent replacement for Minaya because they believe he lacks the experience to take over the top job immediately. But the Wilpons want him to stay involved long term in the next front office, and Ricco already knows Alderson from his days working for MLB.

If Alderson gets the job, that could mean a role for Minaya, probably in a scouting capacity. One person familiar with the Mets' organization said some evaluators are likely to remain despite the shakeup at the top, and Minaya's familiarity with the system could be of value to his successor.

Minaya also has told friends that he would be willing to stay with the Mets for the right opportunity.

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