I'll be honest, I'm only posting about this topic for two reasons:
1) I'm a Mariners blog, and when the Mariners hire a manager, it seems like the kind of news a Mariners blog is obligated to talk about at some point on some level.
2) Lloyd McClendon, if nothing else, was the only managerial candidate the M's interviewed who has stolen first base*.
* He steals first around the 1:00 mark. I argue this is the greatest MLB manager meltdown to date in the 21st century.
For real reporting on McClendon, I'd recommend Larry Stone's piece. McClendon was liked and respected by Jim Leyland and the Detroit Tigers leadership, for what it is worth. For my spin and quasi-rant on the whole situation, keep reading.
Frankly, I am stunned that someone outside the Mariners organization took this job. I get that there are only 30 MLB manager jobs in the world, and that more or less forces every position to look highly desirable. However, the Mariners are a moribund franchise in a long playoff draught with no end in sight and a payroll that has dwindled about $25 million while inflation has skyrocketed the past decade. On top of all that, GM Jack Zduriencik was on the final year of his contract. Whatever manager taking over the Mariners would be taking over a chronically failing franchise and immediately be a lame duck.
There's a job that's going to attract some real all-stars.
I'll give the Mariners some credit for taking advantage of some market forces and grabbing someone that I thought would not consider the job. McClendon was a finalist for the Tigers job, but once the Tigers hired Brad Ausmus, McClendon's status was far from secure in Detroit. Some job security must have looked nice. Tack on a promotion, and at least a two-year contract (complete with an extension for Jack Zduriencik through 2014), and the Mariners have themselves a new manager.
Taking advantage of an altered market does not automatically equate to hiring a good manager though. I have no idea how McClendon will turn out. Time will tell. It seems to me, from a passionate outsider's perspective, the McClendon is Wedge 2.0 in many respects. He comes to the Mariners with previous managing experience, a background as a "scrappy" utility ballplayer, and a demeanor that "demands respect" on the most courtly of days, and is bat**** crazy on the worst. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that Z sprung for a similar manager because he wanted to keep Wedge around.
The reality is that Eric Wedge didn't succeed in Seattle, though I don't blame him for the losses as much as I blame the rosters he played with**. If McClendon is Wedge 2.0, I have a hard time seeing him succeed where Wedge failed. Hence, I am not fired up about this move.
**I do blame Wedge for bad bullpen management though, or at least irritating bullpen management. I hope McClendon is an improvement in this area, though I'm not holding my breath.
In McClendon's defense though, I'm not sure I would have been excited about anyone the Mariners hired. The manager isn't the problem in Seattle. This franchise has lost under Mike Hargrove, John McLaren, Don Wakamatsu, and Eric Wedge...all in just the past decade. The Mariners also booted Bob Melvin out of town, who has now won manager of the year honors in the NL and AL since leaving Seattle. What's even more depressing to me is that the cadre of managers in the past decade range from placid and peaceful (Melvin and Wakamatsu) to old-school and intense (Wedge), yet nobody has stuck.
Maybe McClendon is the first guy to stick since Lou Piniella, and I hope he is. However, if he does, it won't have much to do with his managing ability, and that's not meant as a slight to his character or talent. The reality is that Seattle has seen a broad range of managing abilities and personalities blow through in the past decade. Nobody has stuck. The problem is obvious: a lack of talent.
Lloyd McClendon needs talent, and if he can develop some of the young guys, more power to him. One way or another, he needs a winning roster. It's not his fault that the M's have been a perennial doormat most of the past decade, but it's his problem now though. The Mariners think he's got some solutions.
Go Lloyd McClendon. Go Mariners.