By the time I am able to post this from draft, the Mariners will have made their public announcement regarding the letting go of manager Lloyd McClendon. I never know what to say when stuff like this happens. I’d hoped that maybe new GM Jerry Dipoto would see fit to keep McClendon around, maybe see what his strategy might be with whomever Dipoto decided to trade or move around between here and Tacoma (Dipoto apparently favors trades over shiny new giant contracts), but, as expected, we’re not going to find out.
Lloyd McClendon was the 6th manager the Mariners have had since I’ve been a fan, and my second favorite. Don Wakamatsu, of course, was my favorite. The only other manager who really made an impact on the team or me as a fan was Eric Wedge, and given his years of 2011-2013, well, I guess the impact was more or less negative. I didn’t have anything against Wedge as a person, I don’t remember being particularly annoyed by his presence here, but the team was terrible and I have the tendency to remember the good years over the bad. Don Wakamatsu gave me a good 2009 with a team that is still one of my favorites, but that quickly turned sour in 2010 when the team took a nose dive and Wak got canned mid-season. I remember Wedge having a lot of problems with the front office, and parting with some bad blood and not-too-nice words for Jack Zduriencik after the 2013 season. When McClendon came on board, I was cautious because I didn’t know him, but, as always, open to the new experience of things I had no control over.
And McClendon proved to be a pretty good manager over the past two years; he came out of this with a record of 163-161; and in baseball, that’s not terrible. Some of his bullpen use was question mark-inducing, but by and large, the boys did OK under him, and I will forever remember him as the man who not only fought against a call he didn’t like while we were in New York, but who went around to every umpire on the diamond, reading them the riot act in a manner that I hope, somewhere, made Lou Piniella proud. If you’d like to relive that memory –and you should, it was amazing – you can find video here. McClendon gave every umpire what-for, was run out, and took Mike Zunino with him. Apparently also at that link, there is video of him doing something similar while in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform. But I have never seen a manager yell at every umpire. So Lloyd is special and I will fondly remember him. I am glad to have his jersey and a framed photo of him from when I did my 5K earlier this year.
So what happens now? I don’t even know who might be available, or how much of a hurry the team might be to obtain a new manager. We don’t even know what will happen with our roster. While Dipoto has said that Nelson Cruz will be staying here (possibly the only real question in Big Contract Land, since the years on Cruz’s contract are far less than some of the other larger ones we have), what moves will he make that will both render the team better for 2016, and not make him the most hated general manager in Mariners history? I say this last bit because if Dipoto is going to clean house and prefers trades, we have some pretty big chips, and in baseball – especially in Seattle – I don’t feel like anyone is safe, regardless of how much we think they are. Hopefully Dipoto fully understands what players like Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager, and Robinson Cano mean to the fans in this town. Does Iwakuma stay? Taijuan Walker? Will Ketel Marte be around to develop further in our system? Or is everyone up for grabs? This is the part of all of this that scares me the most. Will we even recognize the 2016 Mariners team? I have some degree of concern over how much overhaul we’re really looking at here.
In the meantime, I hope that Lloyd McClendon is able to land another managerial job, if any teams out there might be in need. He stands up for his guys, he’s up front with the press, and you could do a hell of a lot worse. Good luck, Lloyd. You’ll be missed.