This afternoon the Mariners announced that they had relieved Bill Bavasi of his duties as general manager and promoted assistant GM Lee Pelekoudas to take his place on an interim basis. Though Howard Lincoln said that the search for a new general manager would start immediately, Pelekoudas is likely in place for the remainder of the year. At least, hopefully he will be in place the rest of the year, because pretty much any appealing candidate from another organization will not be available for an interview until their team's season is over.
Bavasi's firing is bittersweet. On one hand, it is relieving. Bavasi maintained that he had put together a competitive team, and that the players simply were not performing. I will grant him that there are some disappointments, but he is to blame for poor roster construction and management. It was nice to see that the organization agrees, and understands that the team is not as close to contention as Bavasi continued to infer with his comments. I could go on about all the curious decisions Bavasi made, but it is not worth beating a dead horse at this point. I will simply say it is nice to know that he will no longer make any curious decisions for the Mariners.
However, the press conference was still sad because it officially raised the white flag. Until today, the public stance from the organization was frustration, but a continued belief that the team would begin to play better. It was rather obvious after such a dismal May that the season was over, but today made it official. Even the organization finally changed its tune. Though I did not expect this team to even climb out of the cellar the rest of the year, it was still tough to see 2008 officially become a lost cause. Today was the final nail in this season's coffin.
Still, long term, this was clearly the right move, and the timing was perfect. Few (if any) would dispute the Mariners are the worst team in baseball after getting swept at home by the Nationals. They have finally hit rock bottom; a team simply cannot do worse than getting swept at home by the worst team in baseball outside of themselves. Clearly, this is not a rash move, but the recent turn of events led remarkably well to today.
Additionally, Lee Pelekoudas is the perfect man for the job right now. Though he served as Bavasi's right-hand man the last couple years as assistant GM, he really is a life-long Mariner who has slowly worked his way up the ranks. For better or worse, Pelekoudas should be influenced by his time under Pat Gillick and Woody Woodward, in addition to the Bavasi era. More importantly, Lee already knows and has worked closely with everyone in place, so he knows the personnel. This should free him up to solely focus on concocting a gameplan for the trade deadline.
Even though today is a bit of a dark day, the Mariners future just got brighter. The organization has given up on 2008, which frees them up to shop around or purge players like Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro. They also have the chance to do some soul-searching for the next three or four months, and figure out if they just need to pick out a few bad apples, or start from scratch. The Mariners officially went into rebuilding mode today, but there is no reason a team willing to spend $117 million on players cannot turn things around quickly.