There is news from Safeco Field. The Seattle Mariners have hired former Detroit Tigers bench Lloyd McClendon to be their new manager.
Oh, I’m sorry. Are we supposed to be excited? Perhaps we should turn to the Monty Python boys for a bit of perspective:
Alright, so perhaps this is the wrong attitude. We’re supposed to be positive in life, right? Maybe this was an understated move by the Mariners that will bring about change in the clubhouse. As noted by Raymond Schwabacher in his recent article:
We should neither celebrate nor chastise the hiring of Lloyd McClendon as manager of the Mariners. Rather we should wait until they tell us why he was their choice, and keep our fingers crossed that their reasoning makes sense. Because if it doesn’t, there’s not much reason to believe this ship is any further from capsizing today than it was yesterday.
At the risk of chastising the Mariners, this hiring just doesn’t inspire a great deal of excitement. I’m sure McClendon is a nice man, and he has the standard “experience” in terms of being a former player, bench coach and manager. The prior experience just isn’t going to make fans jump up and down with ecstatic excitement.
Are the Mariners going to get the McClendon that went 336-446 with the Pittsburgh Pirates? Or, has McClendon learned a lot about managing a team while working for Jim Leyland and a successful Detroit Tigers franchise?
Granted, McClendon’s experience as a manager has to be put in context. He has not been a manager since the Pirates fired him in 2005. That said, you could certainly make the argument that McClendon wasn’t leading Pittsburgh teams that had a lot of talent. Unfortunately, McClendon could also be dealing with a talent deficiency when he arrives in Seattle.
Would Chip Hale, Joey Cora or Tim Wallach have been any more inspiring? Not necessarily. There would have been a sentimental attachment to someone like Cora, but pleasant memories of 1995 will not translate to wins in the present day.
The one hope is that McClendon’s experience as a hitting coach for the Tigers may provide some perspective for a number of young Mariners hitters who have not exactly lived up to their potential. Granted, McClendon did have Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in Detroit. He won’t have that in Seattle.
In the end, the Mariners got their guy and it is time to move forward with free agency. Whether McClendon will be a major upgrade over Eric Wedge remains to be seen. McClendon will be the eighth skipper that the Mariners have employed since Lou Piniella left after the 2002 season. The manager position has not exactly been stable in Seattle.
Best wishes, Mr. McClendon. Hopefully Jack Zduriencik will get you some hitters. Otherwise, it might be a long season.