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Sandy Alderson gives Terry Collins a vote of confidence

Sandy Alderson looks on during a spring training

Sandy Alderson looks on during a spring training workout at Tradition Field. (Feb. 13, 2013) Credit: Alejandra Villa

CINCINNATI -- Sandy Alderson stopped short of announcing a contract extension for manager Terry Collins. But the Mets general manager said nothing Monday to dissuade the perception that Collins' return has increasingly become a matter of formality.

"He's done an excellent job across the board with the talent that he's had, with the injuries he's had to endure, with the other changes in personnel," said Alderson, who expects an announcement on Collins' status shortly after the season.

Alderson refused comment on reports that he and Collins have already started talks on a new contract. However, he made it clear that he's pleased with the job the manager has done, despite a 222-258 record and a .463 winning percentage since taking over in 2011.

Collins, whose contract expires at season's end, has presided over three straight losing seasons.

"Wins and losses I don't think ever determine a manager's fate, frankly," Alderson said. "Even winning is not necessarily a guarantee of tenure. So it's always a little bit subjective. In this case, perhaps moreso. But you have to temper your evaluation with the circumstances and the context, which includes the players, the injuries, the trades."

This season, the Mets have been besieged with injuries, most notably to third baseman David Wright and rising ace Matt Harvey. And late in the season, the Mets traded away veterans Marlon Byrd and John Buck, opening the door for the possibility of an ugly finish.

But the Mets seem to have avoided a complete tailspin. They are 71-85 after losing to the Reds, 3-2, last night on Shin-Soo Choo's single off Sean Henn in the 10th inning. The Reds clinched a wild-card spot as the Cardinals beat the Nationals, 4-3.

"It's how the team and the staff has responded to injuries," Alderson said. "And I don't think the team has, certainly the staff has not, given up in the face of those injuries or trades."

Alderson painted a glowing picture of the rapport he enjoys with Collins even during times of disagreement, another indication that the manager should be back for at least a fourth season in the dugout.

"It's not as if throughout the year we have absolute agreement on everything," Alderson said. "Whether it's the use of personnel or a particular play or what have you, those differences of opinion will always arise from time to time. But in the totality of the season, the working relationship has been very good."

Meanwhile, Alderson said Wally Backman will be invited to remain in the organization, whether as the manager at Triple-A Las Vegas or in another capacity. Alderson left open the possibility that Backman would be considered for a spot on the big-league coaching staff if an opening were to arise.

"He did an excellent job with what he had," Alderson said of Backman.

However, the Mets must first handle Collins' situation, which appears destined for a quick and expected resolution.

Said Alderson: "Nothing has happened in the last few weeks to change my appraisal of his work."

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