The Mets are all but certain to replace
That only adds considerably to what is expected to be an unusual amount of attention paid to high-profile, non-playing baseball jobs openings this winter. A few GM jobs and no fewer than 10 managerial jobs are either open or in question, including also the prestigious managing positions with the Cubs (open) and Dodgers (in question).
Mets people have high regard for assistant GM
As for the new Mets manager, that will likely wait for the front office situation to be settled, as the new GM officially will have a say-so in that job. But while the new GM has yet to be decided, the Mets are already said by those in the know to be on the lookout for a manager who's "high energy'' for the managerial position, which could seem to suggest that feisty Brooklyn Cyclones manager
Many baseball insiders question the idea of promoting Backman from the Mets' Single-A New York-Penn League affiliate to one of the toughest jobs in the majors. Experience is viewed as a question for Backman, too, by many baseball insiders, including some with the Mets. "The New York-Penn League to the majors is quite a jump,'' one National League executive opined.
But Backman seems to have forged a couple key alliances and is credited by some with the Mets for taking such a low position a few years after being offered the Diamondbacks' managing position, which he lost within a few days when some personal transgressions became public. Backman appeared to make a major misstep recently by being quoted in the
Valentine should be the most obvious choice for Mets manager and is eminently qualified as someone who already succeeded in that very job, taking a seemingly a good but unimposing team to the Subway World Series in 2000. However, office politics could get in the way. What's been described as a bad ending with a higher-up or two when Valentine was fired at the the end of the 2002 season is apparently a hurdle that will need to be cleared first.
People within the Mets organization see ticket sales as a key issue and some opine that Valentine could be the man to re-energize the organization in that regard. However, some others also wonder whether the bad ending with ownership and expected higher salary demands could be impediments.
In any case, New York is only a small part of the story this winter. Some estimate there could be as many as 12-15 managerial openings, with suspense all over the map. One rare place where the likely hire is believed to be known is Atlanta, where ex-Marlins manager
Managers will also be hired by the Mariners, Cubs, Marlins, Blue Jays and quite possibly Brewers, Pirates, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and maybe even Cardinals (though some suggest they could see the legendary
Insiders say they'd still be surprised if future Hall of Fame manager
Ex-Rockies and Cubs manager
Former Pirates GM and catching great
The Cubs' managing job is already creating a lot of interest. Gonzalez declined an interview for that prestigious post, adding to the very strong speculation he already has Atlanta basically locked up (Gonzalez was unavailable for comment the last couple days), but it's a desirable job for many because of the history, high payroll and other factors. Cubs legend
Girardi, an ex-Cubs catcher, Northwestern product and Illinois native who was passed over for Piniella the last time the job came open after the 2006 season, is once again a possible candidate with the Cubs. Some have suggested he would seriously consider that particular job if he were to make the leap from the team with baseball's highest payroll. But while Girardi's three-year, $7.5-million contract Yankees contract expires after the season, Yankees people are confident Girardi won't want to leave baseball's most storied franchise (and that $200-million-plus payroll) even though the team has has no intention in raising Girardi's salary into the stratosphere of Torre's last Yankees deal, which was between $6-7 million annually. Managers salaries are generally held to around $4 million, or a bit above that now.
Bob Melvin has been given permission by his current employer, the Mets, where he does not appear to be a leading candidate for the managerial job, for at least two managing interviews. He could have a shot in Milwaukee, where
Huntington is very new to the hot seat and seems more likely to survive than Russell, whose weak teams have floundered even more than they expected and have the worst record in baseball this season at 48-97.
In Seattle, the speculation over Zduriencik's situation picked up after his good friend and pro scouting director
Two GM jobs that have yet to be decided are the ones with the Diamondbacks and Mets. Arizona's list of candidates is a strong one with interim
Towers, a possible candidate with the Mets, too, sounds like he wants back in as GM after a year recharging as a Yankees consultant this season following 14 years as GM in San Diego, where he earned a rep as an excellent trader who knew pitching and did well despite lower payrolls. "I'm motivated by building a team, building a front office and competing on a daily basis,'' Towers said. There have been suggestions that Arizona, hampered by a weak local economy, might not want to pay enough to lure Towers. However, speaking generally about a GM position, Towers said, "I don't think I'm in position to be picky. There are only (30) of these jobs out there.'' He's from the Northwest, lived in the West his whole life (he's still in San Diego while working this year for the Yankees), but while he concedes word that he might prefer the West is probably true, he added, "I don't rule out the Midwest or East if the opportunity presents itself.'' One friend of his said he believes Towers actually would love the challenge of the Mets, where in a sense he'd match up with good buddy