New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said Wednesday that he plans to have a new general manager in place by the end of the World Series, but "that can be flexible."
Wilpon and acting GM John Ricco have met with three GM candidates so far: former Kansas City Royals GM Allard Baird on Monday, Chicago White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn on Tuesday and former Arizona Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes on Wednesday.
The process will continue with Sandy Alderson, who is currently working for Major League Baseball on Latin American operations, interviewing on Thursday and Los Angeles Dodgers assistant GM Logan White interviewing on Friday.
"They each presented various plans for this organization going forward, which we were both impressed with," Ricco said of the completed interviews. "All three are highly qualified candidates from varied backgrounds. And each one of them showed different plans, but very interesting ideas."
Said Wilpon: "They were all in tune to exactly where we're at as an organization and have an idea not only for '11, but '12 and '13 and moving on. A lot of discussion about scouting, development -- all aspects of the business. They have been very extensive, full-day meetings with three very smart guys."
Wilpon added that "a few other requests" for permission to interview candidates are pending.
Follow-up interviews with the finalists may begin at the end of next week. That round would involve meeting principal owner Fred Wilpon and his brother-in-law Saul Katz, the team's president.
Jeff Wilpon insisted the process began with a "fully open mind" on the level of experience a candidate should possess. The three one-day interviews that have been completed each have run from about 8:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., the chief operating officer indicated. Those sessions included the candidate outlining a three-year plan for the Mets through 2013, as well as a discussion of each applicant's experience.
Ricco said the search for a manager to succeed Jerry Manuel will not begin until the GM is hired.
"Once we hire the new GM, then we'll turn our attention to the new manager," Ricco said. "But to this point we have not reached out to any managerial candidates."
Jeff Wilpon added that he is unconcerned the most attractive managerial candidates will find landing spots by the time the Mets have completed the GM search.
Said Wilpon: "We've heard a number of [managerial candidate] names, like we thought we would, different than what we might have had on our internal list, or John might have had on his list, that are out there. Nobody is worried about the timing on anything going on outside of our situation."
Despite speculation otherwise, Jeff Wilpon also indicated the Mets are not looking to hire a president and GM.
"My uncle Saul Katz would be unhappy giving up his title," he quipped.
Wilpon added that it has not been difficult to hear pointed criticisms of the organization.
"I think it's being realistic and understanding [of] where we're at," Wilpon said. "I think it's been very healthy the conversation we've had. I think they've been all kind to [former GM] Omar [Minaya] in terms of their comments about him. But I think they also realize we've made some less-than-perfect decisions and have to move forward."
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.