I hinted at this post on Monday, but thanks to the holiday did not sit down to write it until now. However, this is much better timing. It's much funner to write about a manager after a win, and especially nice when it's a guy like John McLaren.
There is no doubt that McLaren is the right man for the job right now. Hargrove's shocking resignation had the potential to ruin this increasingly promising season, but that's just not going to happen under Mac's watch for several reasons. First, he was the bench coach, so he's been around the team since day one, and been assisting in the managerial decisions since day one. McLaren already knows the abilities and limitations of the personnel, which makes the transition exponentially easier. Even though a mid-season managerial change creates a sense of upheaval, promoting McLaren maintains maximum stability, which is valuable to the Mariners right now. Also, McLaren does not have to earn the respect of the players. It is clear that he is respected already, thanks to his experience and communication skills (both of which are footprints of his days being Lou Piniella's bench coach). So, between already knowing the players and having the respect of them, McLaren's transition to manager is unique in a very good way.
However, the reason I'm most excited that the reigns have been handed over to John McLaren is because of his love for Seattle and the Mariners organization. McLaren was offered two positions this past off-season: Mariners bench coach, and Cubs bench coach. In Seattle, McLaren would be returning to an organization that he coached in for a long time, but really he would be working with almost entirely different coaches and players. As for the Cubs, he would be coaching under Lou Piniella, whom he followed to Tampa Bay from Seattle, and he would become a part of one of baseball's storied franchises. For most coaches, the decision wouldn't be that difficult. For McLaren, it was, and he ultimately went against the decision most would have made in his position and returned to the Mariners. When McLaren was announced as the M's bench coach, he said that it was hard to turn down Sweet Lou, but a chance to return to Seattle and the Mariners was something he couldn't refuse.
For over 20 years, McLaren has dreamed of managing in the major leagues. He's clearly got the passion to manage. He turned down Lou and the Cubs in favor of Seattle because he loves the city and the organization. He's clearly dedicated to the Seattle Mariners. On paper, John McLaren has all the experience that anyone could ask for from a man who was yet to manage in the major leagues until now. More importantly, I doubt there is any other person qualified to lead this team that has as much loyalty to the Mariners as McLaren already does. It's why McLaren should have been offered the job when Lou departed.
Baseball managers aren't like football and basketball coaches. They don't impact the game as directly. Most managers are smart enough to figure out how to field their nine best players, and put them in a decent batting order. A great manager's impact comes in the clubhouse, and a guy that communicates as well as McLaren does, is as respected as McLaren is, and believes in an organization as strongly as McLaren does, is going to have a hard time not succeeding. Mac's deal only runs through the end of this year, but I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be a long-term fixture.