Mariners Hire Lloyd McClendon, Seattle Sports World Goes Right On Not Giving A Shit

Lloyd McClendon has been the hitting coach for a successful Detroit Tigers team for many a moon.  Prior to that, he was the manager for a terrible Pittsburgh Pirates team for fewer moons.  Prior to that, I guess he was a Major League baseball player, mostly a backup/utility-type guy.  All I can say is:  at least we’re not getting another fucking former catcher.

Seriously?  What’s with all the catchers?  What makes a shitty, no-hitting catcher so qualified to manage baseball teams?  Not for nothing, but wouldn’t you want a guy who was successful at being a baseball player?  I dunno.  It probably doesn’t matter.  But, if you insist on going the former-player route, you might as well go with someone good.

I have no opinion on the Lloyd McClendon hire, just like I had no opinion on the Eric Wedge hire, just like I probably had no opinion on the … whoever the hell it was before Wedge.  Wak?  There was someone in between for a few months, right?  I dunno, who can keep track?  More importantly, who WANTS to keep track?  These are the Mariners!  By the time you finish that there cigarette, it’ll be time for the Mariners to hire a new one!

Honestly – and I know most people probably won’t give a shit about this – the most important aspect of the Mariners hiring McClendon isn’t his track record of working with great hitters, nor is it his experience handling a young, inexperienced ballclub.  No, the most important thing is the fact that he is one of, like what, three black baseball managers currently in the game?  I’m not saying that makes him qualified, or that he will be any GOOD, but I’m just sayin’.  It’s something.  Good for the Mariners.  Who knows, maybe it’ll buy us some karma points.

Like I said, I can’t get too excited about this.  Have you seen our players?  Have you seen our upper management?  Have you seen this team over the past decade?  Lloyd McClendon could be the second-coming of … whoever was the best baseball manager in the history of the universe, and we’d still finish somewhere below .500.  Or, we’ll throw away all of our young prospects in a feeble attempt to win now and STILL finish somewhere below .500.

I’ll tell you one thing, though.  Those Mariners commercial guys are going to have a field day with that incident where McClendon walked away with a base after being ejected by an umpire.  And, at least we should have some exciting, heated arguments to look forward to the next time Felix gets squeezed by the strike zone; a little McClendon/C.B. Bucknor action!  Who doesn’t love a good managerial tirade?

Mariners 2011 Season Overview: Felix Hernandez

I’m probably NOT going to do one of these on every player, but this will be a running theme over the next month or so.  I figured, if we’re going to look back on the team that was, we might as well start at the top.

Felix Hernandez has been on a tear.  Over the last three seasons – when the Seattle Mariners FINALLY let the King rip to his full potential – these are just a smattering of his numbers:

2009:  238.2 IP, 71 BB, 217 K’s, 2.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 19-5 record
2010:  249.2 IP, 70 BB, 232 K’s, 2.27 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 13-12 record
2011:  233.2 IP, 67 BB, 222 K’s, 3.47 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 14-14 record

To start, he’s not just giving you 200 innings every year, he’s huffing and puffing and blowing 200’s house in!  He’s giving you well over 200 strike outs while doing a great job of otherwise keeping guys off the base paths.  His traditional numbers are excellent and his sabermetric numbers are elite level.

Still, it’s plain to see that there was something a tad off about his 2011 season.  And I’m not just looking at an uptick in ERA to come to this conclusion.  You could just SEE it out there, with your eyes, Felix wasn’t the same Felix he was last year.  And I find that somewhat odd.

I don’t remember many, if any, games where he was that dominant force down the stretch in the later innings.  Remember those?  Games where he’d give up a cheap run in the first inning, then mow them down for the next eight.  His change up getting nastier and nastier with each passing inning, as if the sweat dripping from his right hand gave the ball magical bat-avoiding powers.  Instead, it seemed like Felix was a little more mortal this season.  He would tire in the later innings.  Laboring on the mound, reaching deep into his aresnal to find the perfect pitch, ultimately watching in horror as that pitch didn’t do what he wanted it to do.

I remember a lot of cheap runs coming LATE in ballgames this year.  I won’t say it looked like Felix was giving up out there; I’m just saying he didn’t exactly look otherworldly as he had in 2009 & 2010.

It says on his stat line that he had 5 complete games, but I’d be hard-pressed to tell you that any of them stood out.  And it’s not like Felix is Mr. Shutout or anything, but he ends the season with 0.  In fact, there was only one game all season where he left with the other team having scored 0 runs (actually, I don’t know if that’s true or not, I bet the bullpen let inherited runners score a time or two).  In 2009 & 2010, I remember Felix posting 0’s left and right!  Maybe not complete game shutouts, but he’d go 7 or 8 with 0 runs scored for the other team.

His best month of 2011 was August, but it’s not like you can look at that – or any other stretch of quality games – and say that he was truly DOMINANT.  Remember in 2009, after the month of May when Wak laid into him about giving up stolen bases and overall being a leader?  Remember his month of June in 2009 when he gave up 4 earned runs?  FOUR!  In nearly 40 innings, he allowed FOUR earned runs.  Or that September when he gave up 7 earned runs in 46+ innings?  Or in August of last year (plus his first start in September) when he gave up THREE earned runs in over 50 innings pitched?  Those were some dominant stretches of baseball.  Dominant stretches we never quite got to see this year.

So, what is our answer to the question of Why?  He gave up a few more hits than the last couple years, but he still walked slightly less.  His number of home runs given up is only 2 more than last year; there doesn’t appear to be anything mechanically wrong with him.

Most people want to blame a lack of focus because he’s on a terrible team.  I COULD buy that, except for two very important reasons.  First, he was on a terrible team last year and that seemed to only fuel his fire to get his first Cy Young Award all the more.  He needed perfection night-in and night-out last season and that quest only made him better.  Second, these Mariners WERE in contention through June.  And yet, Felix’s numbers through June were pretty much what they are now at season’s end.  Good, not great.

If nothing else, Felix has been steady this season.  There were never any real big ups or downs with him.  He came out, he got his work in, he led by example, and he wasn’t dominant.  But, even still, Felix is so talented – so breathtakingly talented – that him at his sub-par is still a sight to behold.  If one pitch doesn’t seem to have any life on a given night, he can reach for 3 or 4 other pitches to carry him through to the quality start.  And when he IS on (like that 13-strikeout, 0-walk game against San Diego back in May), he will punish you and make you wish you’d never even HEARD of the game of baseball.

The only reason I can come up with, like an itch in my brain that can’t be scratched because it’s entirely conjecture, is that Felix was one man on a mission in 2009 and 2010.  The Mariners let him off his leash, let him push his talents and his body to the limits, in that quest for the first Cy Young Award of his career.  2009 was a snowball rolling down a mountain after the month of May; unfortunately, Zack Greinke was just THAT much better than him.  2010 was a different story entirely.  That year was All-Felix All The Time.  He forced the Baseball Writers to vote for him in spite of a VERY pedestrian win/loss record by the simple fact that he WAS the best pitcher in baseball; numbers be damned.  You could just SEE it; like you could see Felix wasn’t All-Felix this year.

My point is, those two seasons may never come around again for Felix in a Mariners uniform.  Hell, they may never come around again for Felix period.  But, he went through a lot to get his hardware last year.  Two solid years of intense focus and back-breaking labor to grasp the prize that was so deservedly his.

Can you begrudge a man one hangover season, especially when that season is still very good compared to most other pitchers in the Major Leagues?  Let the man recharge.  Let him regroup his focus.  Let him come out next year and light the motherfucking world on fire like Sherman’s march to the sea.

One thing to keep in mind:  Felix appears to be pushed by greatness.  In 2009, Felix still had Erik Bedard on his team, as well as a rejuvenated Jarrod Washburn (for approximately half a season each); in 2010, Felix had Cliff Lee (again, for about half a season).  Those were established veterans having career years in the presence of the King; Felix HAD to assert his dominance over the rest!  In 2011, Felix was clearly the Alpha Male by a country mile; it wasn’t even close.  In 2012, though, Pineda will be in year two.  Will we see a guy who’s ready to push Felix back into that dominant role of Greatness we’re so used to seeing?

Count on it.

Jack Wilson, Former Second Baseman

Add this to the list of shit you can ONLY find in a franchise with its head up its ass.

I can’t remember all the crazy shit I’ve NEVER heard of happening before on a baseball team that happened last year.

Milton Bradley losing his shit, walking out of the clubhouse after getting taken out of a game, then promptly asking for psychiatric help that put him on a “restricted list” for a few weeks to get his head right.

Eric Byrnes simply destroying what should have been a relatively routine sacrifice bunt to lose us Cliff Lee’s first start in a 10-inning game, then before he could be questioned by the media, he rides his bicycle out of the clubhouse.

Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune publishes a story where a couple of unnamed teammates accused Ken Griffey Jr. of sleeping in the clubhouse during a game (and being so groggy that he was unable to pinch hit for Rob Johnson), which leads to Griffey and manager Don Wakamatsu not speaking for a month, Griffey being benched for Mike Sweeney, and (my favorite), Mike Sweeney challenging the unnamed teammates to step forward so he can fist-fight them in order to defend Griffey’s honor.

A few games (or maybe just a single game) after Jose Lopez makes a baffling base-running mistake, Chone Figgins does something else almost as brainless and instead of punishing both equally, Wak opts to take Figgins out of the game.  This leads to a physical altercation between Figgins and Wak (in the dugout, during the game) that ultimately leads to the MANAGER being fired.

I might be missing a few other oddities, but go ahead and throw this week’s freakshow onto the pile.

In Felix’s last start, there were two errors in the bottom of the second inning.  They were back-to-back, and they were both made by Jack Wilson at second base.  Either one could’ve prevented what ended up being the losing runs from scoring (had he been able to turn a simple double play, that is to say), but in combination, they added up to yet another loss for Felix.

By the time the bottom of the third inning came around, we found that Jack Wilson was no longer in at second.  At the time, I thought it MIGHT have been possible he was out for an injury – he was taken out a little hard at the bag as he tried to turn and throw to first base on the second of the two errors – but more likely he was pulled and the EXCUSE would have been that he was a little banged up on that play.

In a surprising revelation later that afternoon, it was pointed out by manager Eric Wedge that Jack was feeling a little “hazy” and was pulled for, I dunno, safety precautions?  DID he get hit in the head?  Didn’t look like it to me, but what do I know.

Later, Jack pointed out that he wasn’t feeling hazy at all, that he was just pulled from the game by the manager for the errors (to which he added that he didn’t blame Wedge, as he was doing nothing to help the team with his play).

Well, it turns out as of yesterday that Jack Wilson wasn’t pulled at all.  He ASKED to be taken out of the game, and Wedge was just trying to cover for his player.  Because teammates (or, really, anyone who’s played the game) will lose respect for a player who ASKS to be taken out, especially if he’s not totally crippled by injury.

This leads us to yesterday’s game, when Adam Kennedy was starting in place of Wilson.  Now, had none of these events of the past few days transpired, I would’ve chocked that up to Kennedy being left handed and Cleveland’s pitcher being right handed.  But now, it’s pretty clear:  Jack Wilson has played his last game as a Mariner.

Honestly, I think that’s a damn shame.  I’ve always kinda enjoyed the guy since we traded for him.  Great defender, if a little lot injury-prone, makes good contact with the bat, AND he’s literally in the best shape he’s been in since he was first breaking out in baseball thanks to losing a bunch of weight and strengthening his legs.  He’s been stealing bases, being productive at the plate, and in his penultimate game he turned what has to be the most impressive 4-3 double play I’ve ever seen.

But, there’s no excuse for taking yourself out of a game.  You’re a professional baseball player.  Yes, you had a terrible half-inning where you blew two plays that could’ve saved some runs.  You know what, it happens!  We didn’t see Kevin Kouzmanoff ask to be sat down when we played Oakland in the first series!  Jack Wilson isn’t the first guy to have a couple errors in an inning.

Of course, the difference there is that Kouzmanoff was playing his natural position and (supposedly) has a track record of successful third base defense.  Jack Wilson has been playing second base for all of a few weeks.  If you don’t have that comfort level in your position, I suppose I could see one’s confidence spiraling out of control.

I dunno.  All I know is that Wilson’s in the wrong here and I think it’s ultimately going to cost this team big.  They can’t put him back out there!  And who’s going to trade for the guy?  If they did, we certainly would be the ones unloading a problem and wouldn’t get a damn thing in return!  It looks like we’re either going to get a steady diet of Adam Kennedy, or a strict righty/lefty platoon.  Either way, I think I like Wilson’s bat and hustle more.

Jesus.  How much more crazy shit can happen to this team?  At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to find the Mariners involved in some sort of human trafficking sex scandal!

More On Why Milton Bradley Is Such An Ass Clown

A player can be sucky and I won’t INSTANTLY hate him.  Usually, I’ll give a guy a chance to turn things around.  Everyone has a bad month now and then.

It’s when one month turns into two that I start getting annoyed.  If it doesn’t immediately result in reduced playing time, that annoyance turns to rage.

However, there are other factors beyond A. sucking and B. time.  Variables such as salary, attitude, personality, and history all come into play.  For instance, if I knew nothing of Ryan Rowland-Smith last year other than he was a pitcher looking to crack the starting rotation – if I had no opinion of the man whatsoever going in – I would’ve seen a guy having a crappy year.  So, yeah, that sucks.  As chances had it, that guy ended up playing in way more games than he should have.  So, yeah, that’s annoying.  But, since he didn’t make all that much money, my feelings would’ve never gone beyond annoyance. 

For the record, I actually really like the guy and felt legitimately bad that he had to go through such a tough season; and I wish RRS nothing but the best in his new career with the Astros.  Since he was a good guy personality-wise, and he always did interviews after tough losses, and said all the right things to the point where you’d have to genuinely believe him, even that annoyance abated.

Now, let’s take another random example of someone who had a crappy year.  Oh, I dunno, why not Milton Bradley?

Crappy start to season + continued playing time + ridiculous salary figure + one more year stuck with him + age + history of mental breakdowns & ejections & fighting with management + leaves stadium after getting benched + leaves team for psychological help + legal issues stemming from an off-season = Ass Clown.

And then I read about his press conference today from Geoff Baker.  To wit:

Bradley was asked whether he’s fired up about the pending competition.

“Not really,” he said … “Nobody can compete with me. I’m Milton Bradley. I’m at my best. And they pay me a lot of money because I can play. So, I’m not really concerned about all that.”

See, only an Ass Clown would say something like that.  Because, at the moment, Milton Bradley is behind Michael Saunders on the depth chart.  Because, all of last year, Milton Bradley was a huge drain both on and off the field for this organization.  They pay Milton Bradley a lot of money not because he can play, but because he snookered another team into giving him an outrageous amount of money after having one good season after a bunch of injury-plagued (albeit still pretty good) seasons.  And, of course, they pay him a lot of money because previous management paid Carlos Silva a lot of money, but that’s neither here nor there (I wonder how it feels to know you make just about as much as a fat-ass pitcher who couldn’t even make it in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the majors).

Also, if I could quote from the same post:

Bradley said he’s had multiple conversations with new manager Eric Wedge both here and during the off-season.

“I’m glad he’s here,” Bradley said. “We needed the discipline. Somebody to put a foot in your behind when you need it. We just got a little lax with things the way they were going before and now he’s going to get it back on track the way it needs to be.”

Would that be the kind of discipline where players don’t run off and leave the team because they’ve been benched?  Because, you know, the last manager tried to treat his players like men, then when it came time for punishment, his players in turn acted like fucking babies and revolted.  Just throwing that out there.  Where was this call for discipline last year when you were throwing your tantrums?

I’m sorry, but I’m at the point now where the only way I’m going to even REMOTELY enjoy this guy is if he turns it around in a big way on the field.  But honestly, at this point, I’m almost rooting for him to struggle even more so the team simply cuts him and takes the sunk cost right in the jimmies.  There is one ass clown too many on this team right now; if I’m going to watch the loser I’m anticipating, I’d rather watch the loser full of players I can actually respect.

How Desirable Is The Mariners Manager Job?

I’m not gonna lie to you, I’m not exactly plugged in on how many open managerial positions will be open at season’s end.  I know there’s the Mariners, the Cubs, the Dodgers, the Pirates, and the Mets.  Throw in a whole bunch of possibilities (the Diamondbacks, the Astros, the Marlins, the Cardinals, the Brewers, the Indians, NOT the Orioles) and you have yourself quite the smorgasbord of potential landing spots.

Off the top of my head, any bigtime, highly-coveted manager would EASILY prefer the Cubs, Mets, Dodgers, and Cardinals jobs over anything else.  Those places have history – both recent and distant – that puts them near the top of MLB lore.  And the rest of those teams, let’s face it, have had more success at one point or another than the Mariners ever have.

Now, for whatever reason, the Mariners haven’t had much luck with managers.  Lou Piniella aside, it’s been a WHOLE lotta crap.  In fact, in the last 10 years, there have been 7 guys who could call themselves the Mariners Skipper (and have probably lived to regret that).  We’ve had interim guys who’ve made it and interim guys who’ve been let go at season’s end.  We’ve brought in younger coaches with promising potential for managing and we’ve brought in seasoned veterans who’ve been around the barn dance before.  Not a one has stuck.

Which makes this whole search a rediculous concept.  It’s the talent, stupid!  Have quality players on your team, and the manager will look like a genius!  Have shitty, overpriced crybabies on your team:  guess what?  You go through 7 managers in 10 years.

Would I ideally prefer to have stability in this aspect of the organization?  Sure, why not.  A stable manager will make for more contented players.  Which means other players would be more likely to want to sign with us.  Which in turn would make our team better.

But is it vital?  And at any rate, would we be able to land one of the “good” managers.  Which I suppose boils down to guys who don’t actively put Jose Lopez in the 4-hole or Adam Moore in the 5-hole, or Casey Kotchman in ANY hole!

The last guy, a noted “good baseball man”, was dropped because he couldn’t get along with resident aging diva Ken Griffey Jr.  The guy before him, interim coach-turned-manager Jim Riggleman, is apparently working enough wonders in Washington D.C. to be given the keys to a down franchise (and doing a damn fine job of keeping that team out of the cellar).  The guy before that was pretty much a nostalgia choice, but also a noted “good baseball man” as he was oft-employed under Piniella as his bench coach.  And the guy before that was good ol’ Grover, who was driven to retirement in the midst of a contending season.

What does it say about your organization when a guy chooses his La-Z-Boy and a TV remote over being your team’s manager when the team is more or less winning?

I can’t imagine we’ll be getting the cream of the crop when it all shakes out.  Of course, that means very little, since we won’t know if we’re getting cream or crap until the team actually goes out and plays.

In football, you can look to the hiring of guys like Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren, Marty Schottenheimer, and know that your team’s fortunes are about to change.  Because those guys are not only proven winners, but proven winners who’ve won with more than one team.  It’s easy to be labelled a “winner” when you’ve won a championship with a single team.  But to win with one team, then go to a struggling franchise and turn it into a contender as well?  Who’s done that in baseball besides Lou Piniella and MAYBE a couple others?  It just isn’t done, unless it’s a complete fluke.

Hopefully, the Mariners will be able to catch a fluke in a bottle.

The Cancer That Wasn’t

I looked up an interesting online chat I had with a friend back on 12/18/2009, which I assume is either the day or a day after we traded Carlos Silva and cash to the Cubs for Milton Bradley.  I’m reminded of this conversation mainly because of this post in the Seattle Times Mariners Blog.  I think Geoff Baker goes a long way in explaining what essentially went wrong and ultimately why Wakamatu was (and probably had to be) fired.

Anyway, getting back to Silva for Bradley, this was just one step in a string of – what I perceived at the time – positive moves for the ballclub.  Moves towards contending in 2010.  In conjunction with Figgins, Cliff Lee, and maybe forcing myself to believe a little too much in some questionable players like Kotchman, Jack Wilson, and yeah, Ken Griffey Jr.  Let’s face it, I talked myself into another 15-20 homers out of him with a ceiling as high as .250 in the batting average department.  I wasn’t even close to expecting the Shaun Alexander-like dropoff that we got.

More than anything, though, Silva for Bradley made me giddy.  Even more than Cliff Lee (which sounds insane in retrospect).  I’d base that clearly on my loathing of Silva; getting a half-dead invalid would’ve been a bonanza of a deal.

In my zeal, I took to G-chat and said, “Holy shit dude. Jack Z. is an absolute jedi! How he got the Cubs to take Silva is amazing to me”.

To which my friend replied, “didn’t the m’s get milton bradley though”?

The conversation went on about how Bradley is a cancer and that’s a huge risk to take on, especially considering the harmonious environment we enjoyed in 2009’s pleasant surprise of a season.  Ultimately, I made the argument that I’d take one great (even pennant-winning) season followed by a decade of futility, so long as Bradley could just make it through one year happy; punctuating my point with saying Silva is even worse than the worst possible form of cancer imaginable.

At least we could agree on that.

Of course, the funny thing about 2010 is:  Milton Bradley has been anything but a cancer, as far as I can tell.  Yeah, he did have that meltdown, which resulted in a couple/few weeks of personal time to work through his anger issues.  But, since then, it appears he’s been a model citizen, if not exactly a lightning rod of ass-kicking on the baseball field.  I couldn’t tell you when last he played, since Michael Saunders appears to be getting every chance available, but that doesn’t appear to have made him a clubhouse cancer in the slightest.

No, this season wasn’t foiled by Milton Bradley:  Tumor, but then again it wasn’t exactly helped by him either.

There are approximately two schools of thought when it comes to clubhouse chemistry:

1.  A harmonious atmosphere will beget happy, stress-free players who will then go out and produce in a meaningful way on the baseball field, which will result in more wins for the team.

2.  Winning and winning alone begets a harmonious atmosphere (which, hell, is harmony even necessary if you’re winning?)

So, what was it last year?  Were we a happy team because players like Griffey and Mike Sweeney came in and lifted the dark clouds with their tickle fights and hugging contests?  Or were we a happy team because we won 85 games when we really weren’t expecting much after a 100-loss season the year before?

I dunno, does it even matter?  This year’s clubhouse was bad – maybe not 2008 bad, but bad nonetheless.  And it resulted in lots of losses.  Combined (bad atmosphere + lots of losses) = manager and most coaches fired before season’s end.  If we were still losing, but all the key players still respected Wak & Co., and there weren’t so many blatant lapses in judgment on the basepaths and in the field (and at the plate for that matter), then my money would be placed on Wak getting one more year to see if he could turn it around.

But, that’s the thing.  It would’ve required all the players to be on board, not just the young ones getting a shot at extra playing time thanks to a shot season.  And yes, without a doubt, Griffey leaving so abruptly and contentiously played a major part in Wak losing the clubhouse and losing the front office support.

Nevertheless, I refuse to believe that Griffey is the sole cancerous culprit in upending not only the Mariners season, but Wak’s brief managerial career.

I’m not so naive to think that by simply removing the tumor (Griffey and his discontent), you’ve solved your cancer problem.  But, let’s face facts, there were problems with this team long before Griffey made his value known with the lowest hitting totals in all the land for a regular DH.  All signs pointing to the real villain:  Lack of Discipline.

Wak is his own worst enemy in this tragedy, and he Belief System’d his way right out of a job.  It’s one thing to give proven players a long leash and hope that they’ll play their way out of slumps; but it’s quite another to let them drag you through the muck because they want to go chasing bunny rabbits.  I would argue that his judgment in deciding who to have the long leash with vs. who to yank around has been flawed all season.  And I know that desperate times called for desperate measures (you know, back when the AL West was still somewhat within grasp), but sometimes you have to make a stand.  Look at the April trends and make the snap judgment that some guys just won’t be playing their way out of it.  Some guys are just done.

Mike Sweeney should’ve been our starting DH much earlier, that’s all there is to it.  Either you keep Griffey at his word that he’d accept a reduced role and nip his influence over the rest of the clubhouse in the bud, or you make him Honorary DH For Life and see if all those players who admire such a dying goat at the plate can pick him up with their own production.  But, you can’t let him fester as long as he did, then set the whole mess in motion by benching him without a conversation as to why.

The cancer spread like wildfire from there, but the ultimate source wasn’t Griffey.  It was Wak all along.  I agree that he’ll get another shot at the majors, and I bet next time he learns from his mistakes this year.  2009, all he had to do was coast along, let his veterans fix the clubhouse chemistry, and absorb all the accolades of a winning season.  This year, there would be no such coasting.  The futility of the offense wouldn’t allow it.  In the end, Wak made good on some of the tough decisions, but far too late for his own good thanks to a Belief System gone awry.

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 110

It’s always a big day when a head coach or manager gets fired.  I’m not gonna lie to you, I wasn’t ready for it to be today.  Without question, the best manager the Mariners have ever employed was and is Lou Piniella.  That’s obvious.  He oversaw the rejuvination of baseball in Seattle as well as its most successful tenure.  Not only that, but he was the longest-running manager in team history by a WIDE margin.  10 years.  Not counting Tacoma’s Daren Brown, today announced as interim manager, there have been 16 managers in Mariners history (which, again, dates back to only 1977).  That’s practically a new manager every 2 years!  Now, discount Sweet Lou’s 10 year reign, and we’ve got 15 managers in 24 years … wow.  Now THAT’S dysfunction.  10 times we’ve seen a manager either quit or be fired in the middle of a season (we also hold what HAS to be the rarest of feats: one of our managers only managed 1 game in the official capacity of manager back in 1986).  Now, I don’t want to tell you how to run your damned railroad … but that ain’t right!  Since Lou, we’ve had Bob Melvin (canned after 2 seasons), Mike Hargrove (quit after 2.5 seasons), John McLaren (canned after almost 2 half-seasons), Jim Riggleman (not retained after his half-season), and Don Wakamatsu (canned after a season and 2/3), and now Daren Brown for presumably just the other third of a season.  We Can’t, Keep Doing, THIS!  I don’t care how much a manager “actually” affects the outcome of any given game; you’ve GOT to have some sort of stability in your organization or else you’re going to be spinning your God damned tires until the end of time.  I don’t care what it takes, but make this next guy count.  If it’s a veteran, make sure he’s got a track record that commands respect (and make DAMN sure he still has a passion for managing and isn’t Grover 2.0).  If it’s an ex-player, make sure he was a GOOD player, and not some schlub who rode the bench and batted less than his weight (and please, not Joey Cora; I don’t think I can handle the delirium of the elderly women of Seattle … again I said “a GOOD player”).  If you’re not going to give an up-and-coming young managerial prospect a shot for longer than 2 seasons, and you’re not going to give a career bench coach a shot for longer than ah season, and you’re not going to retain quality baseball men like Jim Riggleman, then the next guy better blow my fucking socks clear off!  Joe Torre or Bust!

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 109

And here you go.  First Alan Cockrell and now the world.  Why today and not, say, the day Griffey soured the clubhouse on Wak?  Why not the day when Wak decided to make an example out of Figgins by making him bat 9th?  Why not immediately after the clubhouse brouhaha with Figgins?  Shit, why not in the second week in May when we were getting our lunch handed to us, or in that fateful series in Texas in early June?  I’ve already made my opinion felt on the matter, I don’t agree with the decision.  It’s funny though, everyone in the media was convinced it would happen 1 week ago today, when we had an off-day.  Instead, we’ve got a game to play tonight.  With the Rainiers manager joining the fracas.  Particularly interesting is why Rick Adair had to go; he’s pretty much overseen one of the greatest runs of pitching over the last two years that I can remember.  He made Jarrod Washburn into a useful trade prospect last year.  He’s bolstered Felix’s stock as one of the best pitchers in the game.  He’s molded Jason Vargas into a really solid starter out of pretty much nothing a year ago.  What more does a guy have to do; the pitching hasn’t been the problem (unless you count the bullpen, but look at all the injuries we’ve had to endure!).

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I wouldn’t call it a “Vote of Confidence” so much as a “Statement of Fact”.  A VoC denotes someone you have faith in as well as someone you’re determined to employ on a regular basis going forward.  Jackie Z said, “Don’s our manager.”  Well … yes he is.  But for how long?  Presumably through the end of the season, because really, what’s the point of making a manager switch now?  To send a message?  We’re 40-67, there’s 2 months to go, I think the team has GOT the message (which is:  half of you probably won’t be around next April).  I’ve said it before – I don’t think the manager has all that much to do with a team winning and losing; the onus is much more on the players themselves – but that being said, I don’t think Wak is doing that bad of a job.  His obligation is to do what’s best for the team right now and going forward; that would be giving the young players a chance to show if they’ve got what it takes to stick, easing back on some of our horses who may be overworked (Felix, Vargas, League, Gutierrez), and seeing if some of these veterans who can’t be traded can somehow find their way out of the funks they’ve been in all year.  The crap Wak has had to endure is unfair, but not at all unprecedented.  Mostly, I’m just sick and tired of switching managers every 2 years as if that’s going to be the solution to all their problems.  By the way, how has Joe Torre fared since leaving the Yankees?  How’s Sweet Lou been doing since he left Seattle?

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And in a season where seemingly everything has happened – Griffey falls asleep during a game, Milton Bradley breaks down, Griffey retires abruptly and drives off into the sunset before telling anyone, Cliff Lee endears himself to an entire fanbase in less than half a season, the team sucks and sucks hard – here we have it. A dugout brouhaha involving manager and player. Wak and Figgins. Good grief. Wak pulls Figgins for some mental defensive error – essentially not backing up a throw from Saunders – Figgins gets upset for being made an example, words exchange, men get aggressive, and everyone else tries to break it up. My initial reaction is: FINALLY. Make examples! Call people out, pull people from games, let’s get this shit under control! I find it interesting, though, that it’s Figgins. Since Figgins was also the guy who was famously dropped to the 9th spot in the batting order earlier this season for a few games. Figgins, if I recall, didn’t take that one too well either. We lost control of this season a long time ago, now it’s officially a trainwreck. Luckily, Officer Branyan is here to keep the peace. That guy is gonna be a veteran presence whether he likes it or not! Jackie Z is meeting with Figgins & Wak today; oh what I would give to be a fly on that wall.