Just when you thought things in the Seattle Mariners organization can’t get any worse, they do. Just when you had thought maybe in 2013 things would be better, they weren’t. Oh, and just when you thought this landslide of mythological proportions was over, it isn’t.
After a dismal finish to the season, somehow general manager Jack Zduriencik retained his job for one more year and manager Eric Wedge left. In an almost ‘you can’t fire me, I quit’ moment, Wedge dropped out of the skipper position and now the least lucrative place to play just got even more out of sight in the baseball world.
The Mariners have cut the cord on the Lincoln-Armstrong International Space Station – bloop - they’re out in orbit. Bye-bye.
So now they must hit the pause button on this Odyssey-length process of fixing a leaky roster to find a new manager and in the process, we all must wait.
Some of the top candidates so far include: Ron Wotus, bench coach of the San Francisco Giants, Robbie Thompson, the Mariners bench coach and Chip Hale, the bench coach of the Oakland Athletics.
Thompson, who was interim manager while Wedge was in the hospital, really didn’t do much better than his predecessor in his absence so I pray he doesn’t get the job. Hale is a successful coach at the farm system level winning Manager of the Year in 2006 for a triple-A Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate. Wotus has been in the Giants’ clubhouse since 1999 and also won Manager of the Year in 1997 in the Pacific Coast League.
Thompson is the safest choice but where is the progress in that? Thompson as manager would be like not brushing your teeth in the morning after a long night of drinking. Absolutely nothing refreshing there, I can’t name one fan that would be happy with Thompson. Sorry.
What the Mariners really need is an X-factor, a fiery Lou Piniella impersonator with no fear and a competitive side that will energize this young roster to be able to play to their abilities. Revitalization, a breath of fresh air, new life!
Bottom line, they need a guy with a Pete Carroll-archetype.
The Mariners’ Pete Carroll can be found in Dave Martinez, the Tampa Bay Rays bench coach. Martinez is a young guy who has learned a coaching philosophy from one of the quirkiest, most effective and motivating skippers around, Joe Maddon, the manager of the Rays. He will do anything it takes to get his team to act like a team. Maddon is notorious for bringing bands into the locker room, pets and exotic animals to improve morale and create a locker room culture that is positive and inspiring. Not to mention, Joe Maddon brought a Rays team to the brink of a World Series Championship in 2008 when just the year before they were one of the worst teams in baseball!
That’s a one year turnaround and with Jack’s one year extension he can still redeem himself.
Martinez has been with Maddon since 2007 when the team was awful and he was part of the transformation to the playoff team Rays have become today. He knows what the Mariners are going through and he has been part of the solution for another organization’s revival. Hiring just any guy who has been successful won’t get the job done; we need someone who has been through the muck and come out on top. Everything the Rays do on and off the field screams invigorate and differentiate. That is what will bring this fan base back to life and make the young ball players believe.
Hands down, Dave Martinez should be given a call. Do whatever it takes to make him listen to an offer. We need someone who has the energy to bring this team back from the dead. We need a gum-chewing, base throwing, charismatic guy with adult ADHD.
Second point I would like to make is that the implications of picking another Wedge, Don Wakamatsu or Bob Melvin will be catastrophic for the dwindling fan base and for the future of this team. If Zduriencik can’t make it happen next year he is fired and his manager he signs this year will also probably be out too. Who knows maybe Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong get canned as well and everything crashes into a ball of flames again!
Everything could crumble if the Mariners repeat as bottom cellars again next year. Then, any new general manager the following year will probably want his own manager put into place and the cycle of negativity and backwardness continues.
However, therein lays the problem! With just one year of stability guaranteed for any new manager, how can Seattle draw a big name or energetic guy? It’s just not an attractive offer. Oh, did I mention that Martinez was with the Rays when they had a one year turnaround after being God awful?
That also makes the decision that much more crucial for the Zduriencik era. Seriously, get the manager right (Dave Martinez), you keep your job and save the organization from obvious implosion. If somehow this ship gets righted next year, Jack is a genius and we all go to baseball games with a smile on our face, happy to spend nine dollars for a beer and the last dormant decade worth it.
Do something, anything to makes this team interesting again. Pretty please?
This should have all been done years ago but since Felix or Nintendo can’t create a time machine to go back and fix this mess before it started, they must move mountains to make the right decision now (hiring Dave Martinez). Next year I don’t want the only reason that fans go to the Mariners games to be for bobble-heads or fireworks.
This team needs a fortified sense of belonging, direction and above all, a clean slate. Pete Carroll did it for the Seahawks and Dave Martinez can be the shinning personality that saves the Mariners franchise too. If only the Mariners could see that the blueprint for managerial success is right next door!