Mets closing in on new manager

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The next manager of the New York Mets could be introduced at a news conference as soon as Tuesday at Citi Field, general manager Sandy Alderson said.

Alderson made the pronouncement after conducting second-round interviews with Bob Melvin and Chip Hale on Wednesday at the GM meetings at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando. The other two finalists, Wally Backman and Terry Collins, are scheduled to interview Thursday afternoon.

"We had two excellent meetings and are looking forward to two more [Thursday]," Alderson said. "At that point we'll be in a position to evaluate our next move. Things are going well. We will get all of these second-round interviews done here."

Alderson will be unavailable to deliberate with fellow front-office executives about the choice during the following two days, because he will be spending his time in St. Petersburg, Fla., where a memorial service will be held Saturday morning for his late father, John Alderson.

Melvin kicked off the final round of interviews when he met for roughly 90 minutes with Alderson, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and deputies Paul DePodesta, J.P. Ricciardi and John Ricco.

Hale then met with the same group. His first-round interview had occurred in San Diego with only Alderson.

"Good dialogue. Probably different than some of the interviews that I've been through in the past -- a lot of smart people asking a wide range of difficult questions, but ultimately good baseball talk," said Melvin, who spent last season as a scout with the organization after stints as manager with the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hale, who served as the Mets' third-base coach last season, and who actually worked in that capacity under Melvin in Arizona for two years, was more guarded.

"With everybody coming in, I really don't want to say anything," he said. "We had a nice conversation -- just baseball stuff. That's all it is. It was just good to be here. I'm glad I got a chance to come back and talk to them again."

Melvin described the Mets as a contender in 2011. He suggested a slew of injuries was the primary culprit for losing records the past two seasons, and said a change in mindset would be the first priority if he became the new manager.

"It's not a talent problem," Melvin said. "Certainly I think they've just been beat down from injuries and losing some games, and that can wear on you a little bit."

Melvin also interviewed with the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays this offseason. He's now a full-time Manhattan resident, except for when his scouting duties following the AL East and AL West took him elsewhere.

"I lost my home-field advantage," Melvin joked, alluding to his first-round interview taking place at Citi Field in Queens. "I was at home in New York for the first one. They're making me play on the road."

Melvin said he already is familiar with the Mets.

"They brought me in enough to where I saw the Mets enough to have a pretty good handle on what was going on, plus some spring training stuff," Melvin said. "I saw the A-ball team a little bit in Port St. Lucie. I went and saw [outfielder Carlos] Beltran when he was rehabbing. I saw the Triple-A team. I went and saw four, five or six games of theirs. So I have a little bit of an understanding of the system as well."

All four finalists have existing ties to the Mets. Collins served as the organization's minor league field coordinator this past season, Backman managed Class A Brooklyn.

"I think it just worked out that way," Alderson said. "I guess we had 10 first-round interviews. Six of them had ties to the Mets last year. And I think we did want to be over-inclusive with respect to internal candidates, just to make them feel as if they'd all gotten an opportunity. But I think at the same time we anticipated that some of them would interview very well. I mean, it's a little surprising we don't have any external candidates. But I'm happy to say that everybody does have a Mets tie, which is a very good thing, I think. It speaks to the quality of individual we have in the organization currently."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.