Mets' GM search continues with Byrnes
Former D-backs exec is third of week's five candidates
NEW YORK -- Three days have passed since this interview process officially began, with three general manager candidates marching into and out of Citi Field. Inside, they have met with various high-ranking Mets officials, sharing their opinions and their visions of what the team can become.
"They all know the reality of where we are," chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said on a conference call Wednesday evening. "There's not a bad perception about the team. The record says where we are. They all understand the reality of it."
The Mets still have interviews scheduled later this week with former A's GM Sandy Alderson and current Dodgers assistant GM Logan White, and are awaiting permission to meet with multiple others -- though the pool of candidates continues to shrink. In a Wednesday report on FoxSports.com, Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg said that his general manager, Jon Daniels, is "not going anywhere," despite a contractual clause that would allow the Queens native to interview with the Mets. And Wilpon said that other teams have denied the Mets permission to interview candidates.
By the end of next week, the Mets may complete the first round of the two-part process, at which point principal owner Fred Wilpon and president Saul Katz will join the proceedings. The Mets hope to have the entire process completed by the end of the World Series, though they are not beholden to that timeline.
Their only urgency is rooted in the fact that they cannot begin the process of searching for an on-field manager until they name a GM. The Mets said Wednesday that they have not contacted any managerial candidates, nor have they interviewed anyone for any front-office positions other than GM.
For now, and for the immediate future, the general manager candidates will be the only ones rolling into Citi Field, answering questions based upon their visions for the club. All of them have presented the Mets with some hard truths relevant to the state of the club. But that was precisely what Wilpon and assistant general manager John Ricco expected -- and wanted -- to hear.
"I think it's been very healthy, the conversations we've had," Wilpon said. "They realize we've made some less-than-perfect decisions and have to move forward."
Earlier this week, the Mets interviewed former Royals GM Allard Baird and White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn. Alderson is scheduled for Thursday; White for Friday.
Wednesday, it was another former general manager's turn at Citi Field.
Josh Byrnes, 40, served as D-backs GM from November 2005 until his dismissal in July. A Haverford College graduate with a degree in English, Byrnes previously spent two years serving as assistant GM under Dan O'Dowd in Colorado and four under Theo Epstein in Boston, along the way developing a reputation as a strong proponent of advanced statistical metrics.
Since his dismissal, Byrnes has kept in touch with various front-office executives, offering advice on potential deals and signings.
"To be honest, I've kind of been enjoying the down time," Byrnes said in a telephone interview Tuesday evening.
Finishing dead last in Byrnes' first season, the D-backs rebounded to win 90 games and the NL West title in just his second year at the helm. But they won 82, 70 and 65 games over the last three seasons, respectively, leading to his dismissal.
"It's tough to get good," Byrnes said. "It's even tougher to stay good."
Still, on the day the Mets announced their decision to relieve Omar Minaya of his GM duties, Wilpon said the team would consider replacing Minaya with an up-and-coming industry executive, with an older, more experienced candidate, or with a former GM who lost his job and learned something in the process. Hahn and White fit the first category. Alderson fits the second. Byrnes and Baird fit the last.
More than anything, Byrnes said, in Arizona he realized the importance of trusting his instincts -- a lesson he first learned in Boston, where the Red Sox preceded their first World Series title in 86 years by trading away one of the most popular players in franchise history, Nomar Garciaparra.
"You can't just do it one way," Byrnes said of the general manager job, reflecting on his time in Arizona. "You have to be adjustable."
The Mets, after sticking with Minaya's plan over the past six seasons, might tend to agree. And so they will continue their search, hoping to learn not only about the candidates, but also about their own team.
"There are no preconceived notions," Ricco said. "We're open to hearing each one of these guys."