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Who the Mets passed over for Terry Collins

Revisiting the Terry Collins hire, five years later.

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David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we celebrated GM Sandy Alderson’s five-year anniversary with the Mets by revisiting the team’s decision to hire him in late 2010. Today, we’ll do the same for manager Terry Collins. Below are each of the ten candidates the Mets interviewed for their open managerial position, and what each has done in the years since.

The Finalists

Wally Backman

Backman had nine seasons as a minor league and independent league manager under his belt when the Mets interviewed him in 2010. He had just rejoined the Mets’ organization the previous year, when he managed the Brooklyn Cyclones to a 51-24 record and a division title.

After hiring Collins to manage the major league club, the Mets promoted Backman to manage their Double-A team for the 2011 season. From 2012 to 2015, Backman managed the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, winning two division titles in four years. Although Backman has been rumored to be in the running for several big league positions—most notably with the Nationals—he is still waiting to fulfill his dream of managing in the major leagues.

Terry Collins

Collins served controversial three-year stints as manager of the Astros and Angels during the 1990s. Despite his overall winning record and five consecutive second-place finishes, Collins’s fiery personality earned him many detractors and damaged his reputation as a clubhouse manager. From 2000 to 2009, he held several jobs in baseball, including player development positions with the Dodgers and managerial positions in Japan and China. In 2010, the Mets made Collins their minor league field coordinator.

After the Mets made him their manager, Collins steered a rebuilding franchise through four straight losing seasons from 2011 to 2014. In 2015, the organization finally turned the corner with a 90-win finish to win the NL East and an appearance in the World Series. Collins signed a two-year extension during this past offseason, and currently ranks third all-time in managerial wins with the Mets.

Chip Hale

The Mets hired Hale, a longtime coach in the Diamondbacks’ system, to be their third base coach for the 2010 season. When the Mets’ managerial spot opened up, Hale interviewed for the position and became one of four finalists.

Hale returned for another season as the team’s third base coach after Collins was hired to manage. Hale then left the Mets to be the Athletics’ bench coach, a job he held from 2012 to 2014. In 2015, he finally got an opportunity to manage, returning to the Diamondbacks and positing a solid 79-83 record in a turnaround season for the organization. Hale will enter the 2016 season with considerable expectations after a busy offseason in which the Diamondbacks added several big pieces, including Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller.

Bob Melvin

Melvin, the fourth finalist for the Mets’ managerial position, had previously managed the Mariners and Diamondbacks. During his seven-year run with those organizations, Melvin anchored three teams with records over .500, including one—the 2007 Diamondbacks—that made the playoffs.

After being passed over by the Mets, Melvin took over the Athletics as their interim manager during the 2011 season. The A’s later gave Melvin an extension, and he remains their manager today. In his five seasons with the organization, Melvin owns a .526 winning percentage, won his second Manager of the Year Award in 2012, and has guided the A’s to three postseason appearances.

The Runners-Up

DeMarlo Hale

When the Mets interviewed Hale, he was serving as Terry Francona’s bench coach in Boston. He was previously the Red Sox’ third base coach for four years, and was the Rangers’ first base coach in the four years before that. From 1993 to 2001, Hale was a minor league manager in both the Red Sox’ and Rangers’ organizations.

After the 2011 season, Hale left Boston to become the Orioles’ third base coach, a position he held for one year. He spent the next three seasons as the Blue Jays’ bench coach and remains in that role under manager John Gibbons.

Clint Hurdle

Hurdle had prior experience in the Mets’ organization, having played for the team in the mid-eighties and managed in their farm system from 1988 to 1993. Hurdle spent the next 16 seasons with the Rockies, first as a minor league hitting coach, then as a major league hitting coach, and finally as their manager from 2002 to 2009. During that time, Hurdle’s team finished over .500 just once, in 2007, when the Rockies won 90 games and captured the National League pennant. Hurdle then served one year as the Rangers’ hitting coach before interviewing for the managerial openings with the Mets and the Pirates.

Hurdle did an initial interview with the Mets, but was offered the Pirates’ job before the Mets could call him back for a second round. Hurdle later admitted to feeling conflicted about his decision, given his ties to the Mets’ organization. However, he decided to take the job with Pittsburgh rather than risk completing the process in New York, only to lose out on the job there. The decision seems to have worked out well for both sides. In his five seasons as Pirates manager, Hurdle has led his team to three playoff appearances—including the franchise’s first in 21 years—and won the Manager of the Year Award in 2013.

Dave Jauss

Jauss was the Mets’ bench coach during the 2010 season before the front office interviewed him to replace outgoing manager Jerry Manuel. Prior to that, Jauss served as the Orioles’ bench coach from 2008 to 2009, and as the Dodgers’ bench coach from 2006 to 2007. He had previously spent 10 years in the Red Sox’ organization in various coaching and player development roles.

After the Mets hired Collins to be their manager, Jauss became the team’s coordinator of staff development in 2011. In 2012, he joined the Pirates’ organization, first as a special assistant to general manager Neal Huntington and then, for the last three years, as a member of manager Clint Hurdle’s coaching staff.

Ken Oberkfell

Oberkfell was a longtime minor league manager in the Mets’ farm system. In fact, in the 10 years prior to his interview with the big league club, Oberkfell managed Mets affiliates in Single-A, Advanced-A, Double-A, and Triple-A.

Although the Mets passed on Oberkfell to be their major league manager, they made him their bench coach for the 2011 season. Oberkfell left the Mets after the 2011 season, however, and became the manager of the independent league’s Lincoln Saltdogs. He held that position until January of this year, when he was replaced by hitting coach Bobby Brown.

Jose Oquendo

Oquendo started his career with the Mets as their primary shortstop in 1983 and 1984. In 1985, he joined the Cardinals’ organization, where he has been ever since. Oquendo served in several coaching roles with the Cardinals before becoming their third base coach in 2000. He remains their third base coach to this day.

In addition to interviewing with the Mets, Oquendo has, in recent years, interviewed for managerial vacancies with the Mariners and Padres. He was also rumored to be a candidate for the job in Arizona before it was filled by Chip Hale. In the meantime, Oquendo will be perched in his familiar spot in the third base coach’s box in St. Louis as he awaits his first crack at managing in the big leagues.

Don Wakamatsu

When the Mets interviewed him, Wakamatsu was coming off of a two-year stint as manager of the Mariners. Seattle posted a strong 85-win season in Wakamatsu’s first year at the helm, but a disappointing second season led to his firing in August 2010. He had previously served as a bench coach for the Rangers and Athletics.

After interviewing with the Mets, Wakamatsu accepted the job of Blue Jays bench coach, a job that he held for two years. He then served as a scout for the Yankees in 2013, after which the Royals hired him as their bench coach. Wakamatsu will begin his third season in that role when the Mets face the Royals on Opening Day.

Given Collins’s controversial history and Backman’s popularity among Mets fans, the Collins hire was not warmly received at first. However, despite his occasionally head-scratching moves and unorthodox lineup configurations, Collins has become a fairly popular figure among the Mets’ fanbase.

Collins brings a certain passion and energy that many fans and players have rallied around. Still, by all accounts, he is more relaxed and approachable than he was during his previous managerial stints.

In addition to his strong personality, Collins brought several other positive attributes to the table when he interviewed for his job. First, he had significant prior experience as a major league manager—and a winning one at that. Second, he had a strong working knowledge of the Mets’ organization and its minor league system.

Collins beat out a number of impressive candidates when the Mets hired him to be their manager. Three of those candidates—Melvin, Hurdle, and Chip Hale—went on to have successful managerial careers elsewhere. The rest are experienced baseball men waiting for that elusive opportunity to manage in the big leagues. Collins, who waited a decade for that opportunity after leaving Anaheim, has been rewarded for his patience with a World Series appearance and a chance to lead a promising young team primed to compete for the foreseeable future.