MIAMI - With only two weeks left in the season, the Mets soon will have a chance to speak definitively about the jobs of Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel. But given ownership's silence on this subject, and the minor-league composition of the Mets' roster for evaluation purposes, it's no secret which direction the franchise is headed.
Despite the Joe Torre sideshow in the Bronx Monday, and the beating of the drums for his return to New York, the Mets are unlikely to bring him back to Flushing, according to a person familiar with the team's thinking. Though not impossible - like Torre, the Mets aren't closing any doors at this point - the club's upper management has too many issues to address first before placing any phone calls to the future Hall of Famer.
That will begin to get sorted out a day or two after the regular season ends Oct. 3, when the Mets are expected to announce the fates of Minaya and Manuel. The tentative plan is for Minaya to stay in some capacity - though he no longer is expected to retain the duties of a general manager - and Manuel's expiring contract as manager will not be extended.
Beyond that, it gets more complicated. Minaya, who has two years remaining on his contract, still is involved in the Mets' player development meetings with an eye toward 2011, so that's an early indication that he will figure into the restructuring of the front office. His job title actually could remain unchanged - with a person from the outside taking a baseball-operations position under a different title.
Just who that person will be, and how things will unfold, makes for uncharted territory for the Wilpons, who have been in the habit of hiring familiar faces for the GM position. The Steve Phillips-Jim Duquette-Minaya hiring chain can be traced to Frank Cashen, architect of the 1986 championship team.
When Minaya was hired from the Expos in September 2005, the Mets did not even have a title for him initially - the GM job, at least in name, still belonged to Duquette. That's the situation the Wilpons face again, only the problem now is that they probably have to go outside their comfort zone to find a front-office savior.
Offering the position to a Kevin Towers or Josh Byrnes or even Jon Daniels, the Queens native who is likely to stay as GM of the Rangers, will require a leap of faith for the Mets' ownership group. But that group insists that nothing else can happen within the organization until a GM is selected, and the Wilpons now seem committed to hiring from the outside.
That doesn't mean that ownership doesn't have its favorites for the managerial job, and Wally Backman remains a prominent figure in those discussions, either as manager or as bench coach. There's an increasingly likelihood that he will wind up in one of those positions, depending on what happens during those first few weeks of October.