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11/17/10 10:56 PM EST

Mets expect to pick manager by Monday

Team to speak to four finalists before leaving GM Meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Flight schedules have cooperated nicely with the Mets, who plan to interview all four of their managerial finalists before leaving Florida on Thursday evening. That process began Wednesday, when Bob Melvin and Chip Hale met with the team's front office in Orlando. Wally Backman and Terry Collins are scheduled to follow on Thursday afternoon.

And the Mets, with that schedule, remain on pace to introduce their new manager before Thanksgiving.

General manager Sandy Alderson will remain in Florida through Saturday to attend a memorial service for his father in St. Petersburg. But completing all four interviews by Thursday evening should give the Mets enough time to discuss their options and reach a decision within the next week. Alderson said he expects the Mets to reach a verdict on Sunday or Monday, and, barring any delays, to introduce their new manager at a news conference Tuesday.

"I don't think this is one of those love-at-first-sight scenarios," Alderson said, noting that the Mets will need to deliberate as a group before choosing a manager. "I think we want to be a little more reflective than that. Can somebody win it in the interview room? Yes, but we also have to recognize that the job over 162 games is not to have a good interview."

This week's call-back interviews have taken place at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Orlando, in a process that has included Alderson, his assistants John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta, and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.

Melvin, Hale, Backman and Collins -- all of whom worked for the Mets in some capacity last season -- have already beaten out six other candidates who interviewed for the vacancy.

"It's a little surprising we don't have any external candidates," Alderson said. "But everybody has Mets ties, which is a very good thing. It speaks to the quality of individual that we have in the organization."

Melvin, 49, boasts the most big league managerial experience -- and also the most success -- of the bunch, spending two years at the helm in Seattle and five in Arizona. Posting three winning seasons but an overall losing record, Melvin guided the D-backs to the National League Championship Series in 2007. More recently, he has worked as a scout for the Mets, giving him a familiarity with the organization that could serve him well in the decision process.

Following his interview, which he described as "a lot of smart people asking a wide range of difficult questions," Melvin stated his belief that the Mets already possess the personnel necessary to win.

"There's a lot of talent there," Melvin said. "There's no doubt about that. It's getting everybody going in the right direction, keeping everybody healthy. There's enough talent on the field to be very competitive."

Hale, 46, can attest to the team's personnel firsthand, working last season as third-base coach under Jerry Manuel. An accomplished Minor League manager in Arizona, Hale has never led a big league team. But the Mets value Hale and plan to offer him another job in some capacity, if not manager -- a stance that Alderson reiterated Wednesday by calling him "an asset to the organization."

Hale's meeting Wednesday included introductions to Ricciardi and DePodesta, who did not take part in his first-round interview at Citi Field.

"We had a nice conversation -- just baseball stuff," Hale said. "That's all it is. It was just good to be here. I'm glad I got a chance to come and talk to them again."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.