Hunsicker Staying Put

The flirtation between the Mets and Houston Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker officially came to an end last Thursday when Hunsicker accepted a contract extension from Houston. With Hunsicker re-signing with the Astros, it all but assures that Jim Duquette will remain with the Mets.

Hunsicker interviewed with Mets owner Fred Wilpon in Florida on Oct. 9. One of the ideas reportedly discussed was making Hunsicker the team's senior vice president in charge of baseball operations and leaving Jim Duquette as general manager.

Hunsicker, a former assistant GM with the Mets, hired Duquette as Houston's farm director in 1996, and the two have maintained a good professional relationship.

But Hunsicker, who has been the GM in Houston since 1995, was apparently only investigating his options and wasn't as intent on leaving Houston as some reports suggested.

"I am excited to have the opportunity to continue working toward our goal of bringing a World Series to Houston," Hunsicker said. "I appreciate the confidence that (owner) Drayton (McLane Jr.) has shown in me.

"I worked for the Mets for seven years and have tremendous respect for their owner, Fred Wilpon. He requested an opportunity to visit with me, and I think [it was] because of the mutual respect that we have for each other and the respect between him and Drayton that that opportunity was even allowed to exist."

The Mets have many needs this offseason and securing a General Manager is key to getting off on the right foot. The Mets need a second baseman, a closer, a starting pitcher, a middle reliever or two and a center fielder before next season. The roster that ended the 2003 season figures to be much different when 2004 rolls around. With Hunsicker out, the Mets are likely to officially promote Duquette. He has spent more than four months as the interim GM. The entire "search" for a GM is likely little more than a dog-and-pony show designed to show that Wilpon is covering all his bases before hiring Duquette.

Quote of the Week: "I don't recall ever stating that I was interested in that position or that I interviewed for the job." -- Houston GM Gerry Hunsicker, a day after spurning the Mets and accepting a contract extension from Houston.

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