With just three games left in a lost season for the New York Mets, the biggest question facing the club is who will be managing the team when spring training rolls around.
Terry Collins' contract is up at season's end and the team has given no indication it is trying to extend his deal. Collins, 68, has said he doesn't plan on retiring, leaving a decision on his status up to the front office.
According to a Newsday report, owner Fred Wilpon repeatedly protected Collins from being fired, even as his son, Jeff Wilpon, the team's COO, and general manager Sandy Alderson sought his dismissal on several occasions during Collins' seven-year tenure.
The Mets followed up their 2015 trip to the World Series with an 87-75 mark last year, losing to the San Francisco Giants in the wild-card game, but the bottom fell out this year, with injuries wreaking havoc on the roster.
The Mets are 69-90 entering this weekend's season-ending series in Philadelphia. They sit 26.5 games behind the NL East champion Washington Nationals.
According to Newsday, the front office was upset by what it perceived as tactical errors by Collins and also questioned his relationships with the players. Despite those concerns, Newsday's sources say that Fred Wilpon wouldn't agree to firing Collins.
Fred and Jeff Wilpon, along with Alderson and Collins, declined comment to Newsday.
When Newsday requested an interview with Fred Wilpon earlier this season, the 80-year-old owner replied, "I don't interfere."
Newsday, though, reported that the elder Wilpon often visited Collins in the clubhouse before games.
"[Fred Wilpon] got too chummy with [Collins]," one team official told Newsday.
One of the main causes of disagreement between Collins and management was Collins' perceived overuse of the bullpen, often using relievers on back-to-back days. Mets relievers have been used in consecutive games 126 times this year, the most in the majors.
"Once he falls in love with you, he abuses you," one team official told Newsday. "He has run players into the ground. He has no idea about resting players. Even when you tell him, he doesn't listen."
Sources also told Newsday that Collins lost support within the clubhouse as some players learned of decisions about their playing time from members of the media.