Alderson interviews Oquendo at GM Meetings
Mets GM returns to St. Pete after working half-day in Orlando
ORLANDO -- A difficult weekend gave way to Monday's business for Mets general manager Sandy Alderson. Less than two days after the passing of his father, Alderson traveled to Orlando to conduct his previously scheduled managerial interview with Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo.
Oquendo, considered a fringe candidate for the job, became the 10th -- and possibly final -- man to interview for the vacancy. Though it is possible the Mets may still conduct additional first-round interviews, Alderson said Monday that he hopes to begin scheduling call-back meetings for this week.
Alderson will work half-days at the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, commuting back and forth to St. Petersburg, Fla. -- the site of his father's passing.
"If I can focus on the game, I'm fine," an emotional Alderson said. "It's tough, but I'm here. We're working on it. And if I keep focused, I'm fine."
John Alderson, an 87-year-old retired Air Force pilot, passed away late Saturday after being struck by a car. The younger Alderson has been in Florida since that time, with plans to drive back to St. Petersburg immediately following Oquendo's interview.
Working in that fashion, Alderson believes his father's passing will not delay an interview process that he hopes to complete by early December. The Mets reduced their list of potential managers by one over the weekend, when the Pirates hired Clint Hurdle for their own vacancy. In Alderson's words, Hurdle had been "a strong candidate" for New York due to his previous big league managerial experience. But he was unwilling to wait for the Mets to complete their interview process, and the Mets were unwilling to speed up their process for him.
Hurdle's departure further entrenches Terry Collins and Bob Melvin as the presumptive favorites, due in large part to their combined 13 years of Major League experience. Of the other seven candidates, only Don Wakamatsu boasts any Major League experience whatsoever, an important -- if not critical -- quality for the Mets.
"We have said that managerial experience is important," Alderson said. "But it's not going to eliminate anybody. There are other criteria that have more or less significance than others."
Alderson plans to schedule second-round interviews with three or four candidates, a group that likely will include Collins, Melvin and incumbent Mets third-base coach Chip Hale. Those call-back interviews, which should draw Alderson's assistants John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta into the process, will be more advanced in nature.
"We'll be looking at having more detailed conversations," Alderson said. "Less about biography and more detailed discussions about approach, style, coaches, things of that sort."