NEW YORK -- New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon said Thursday night that he wants former general manager Omar Minaya to return to the organization in an advisory role.
"I think Omar is a very good man and a very good person also," Wilpon said at the Police Athletic League's 18th annual Sportsnite at Cipriani Restaurant. "I think [finding] the right position for Omar is going to be helpful for Omar and helpful for this organization."
Minaya was fired as Mets general manager after the 2010 season after a six-year tenure with the club. He was replaced by Sandy Alderson.
Wilpon didn't have a specific position in mind for Minaya, but he indicated that he'd like to see his former GM involved in scouting, possibly in the international realm.
Minaya is regarded around baseball as a skillfull talent evaluator.
Wilpon also addressed the 2011 club. He hesitated to announce his expectations for the team, but he said the Mets may exceed those put forth by the media and the public.
"I think we have a good team and I think that we have a much better team than what [the media] and the public give you credit for. But that remains to be seen," Wilpon said.
Wilpon also defended the team's payroll, to which Alderson has committed only about $8 million in new player contracts.
"Our payroll is approaching $150 million. We're not at a $48 million payroll. We're at a high payroll," he said, adding that the team would have flexibility to add to the payroll during the season. "Now, it's true we have some people who have not produced in the past. And we're still carrying that and maybe we won't carry it. But right now we have a high payroll."
As far as adding Minaya to the payroll, Wilpon added that he has been in touch with Minaya recently.
"I care about him and I care about his family. They're really good people," the Mets owner said.
Minaya met earlier this month with Alderson to discuss a role in which he could return to the organization. Alderson said earlier this week that he is waiting to hear from Minaya before the process goes any further.
"Psychologically, emotionally, he's got a lot invested here [with] the position he had over all of those years," Alderson said. "Coming back and interacting with many of the same people in a different capacity is a change. I think anybody would need some time [to] adjust to that.
"I don't think you should read into anything that's happened so far. I think this is just what happens when there's a transition, and I think you've got to give people some space to figure out what they want to do."
The Mets are paying Minaya through 2012 at roughly $1.1 million annually.
Wilpon also said he's been pleased with Alderson and new manager Terry Collins thus far.
"I'm happy with some of the moves we've made and don't forget: we have a pretty good core so we'll see. You know, some people have to produce. I'm happy about where we are going into spring training and we'll see what happens."
He added that he's felt a "visceral" change among Mets fans who've been disappointed with the team in recent seasons.
"The fan base has been disappointed along with all of us," Wilpon said. "But they've shown it. Hopefully they're feeling better."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin contributed to this report.