ORLANDO - With Bob Melvin and Chip Hale completing their second-round interviews with the Mets Wednesday, and Wally Backman and Terry Collins due up Thursday, general manager Sandy Alderson said the team could decide on a new manager as soon as Sunday.
Melvin and Collins remain the co-favorites for the job, with Hale a long shot and Backman seen to have no realistic chance. Alderson will take Friday and Saturday to deal with the tragic death of his father, John, whose memorial will be Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla., before coming to a decision Sunday or Monday, followed by an introductory news conference Tuesday, he said.
Alderson described the meetings with Melvin and Hale as "excellent." Along with Hale, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and assistants Paul DePodesta, J.P. Ricciardi and John Ricco participated. All of the interviews are taking place at the Waldorf Astoria, site of the general managers' and owners' meetings.
"It was the first time Paul and J.P. had a chance to talk with [Hale]," Alderson said, as he had met Hale alone in California for his first interview. "In Bob's case, there was more detail, more talk about coaching staff, more detailed discussion of philosophy. Paul had not been with him the first time."
The Mets think highly of Hale, who was the team's third-base coach in 2010, yet they have concerns because of his lack of major-league experience. Hale figures to be on the coaching staff of either Collins or Melvin, should one of them get the job.
Alderson also announced that Dave Jauss, the Mets' bench coach in 2010, and Ken Oberkfell, the manager of Triple-A Buffalo, both would remain in the organization.
Hale reportedly declined comment to reporters upon concluding his interview. Melvin, however, met with reporters and answered questions about the Mets and his qualifications.
The former Mariners and Diamondbacks manager was optimistic the Mets could contend next season. "I don't look at it as a rebuilding process," Melvin said. "I look at it as, we have the pieces here with this club to compete. Every offseason, you look to tweak a little bit, make some changes in deficiencies from the year before. That's not unlike anywhere else.
"But certainly with the payroll this team has, they give you enough resources to compete everywhere."
Melvin was asked what he considered "job one" for the next manager. "I think the mind-set. Get back to the confident mind-set that this team needs to have to win that division. It's not a talent problem. They've certainly been beat down a little from injuries and losing some games, and that can wear on you a little bit."
Melvin's biggest drawback might be his reputed soft personality, while Collins might be known as too hard. By Sunday, the Mets will likely decide which direction makes the most sense for the organization.