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Lloyd Let Go

Lloyd McClendon (wikimedia commons, EricEnfermero)
Yesterday the Mariners announced that Lloyd McClendon would not return as Mariners manager in 2016. This is not too surprising, given that the M's hired a new general manager. For what it's worth, Jerry Dipoto had several conversations/interviews with McClendon the last few weeks before making this choice. Still, given that Dipoto never had a chance to hire his own guy with the Angels, and he had significant disagreements with his manager, this is not a stunning result.

Lloyd McClendon was not a problem. Far from it. In fact, he is only the second Mariners manager to end his tenure in Seattle with a winning record. The other? Lou Piniella, of course. It is another datum point that points to the strangeness that was the Zduriencik era. Lloyd McClendon stands among the better managers in M's history. Zduriencik kept the M's GM post longer than anyone else. Ultimately their tenure will clearly be remembered as unsuccessful, but on some level they did better than everyone except the leadership during the M's golden years around the turn of the millenium. So, is it ultimately fair to call McClendon and Zduriencik failures? Some food for thought.

Anyway, it is more interesting to look forward at the moment and wonder what will happen. There are already rumored candidates for the Mariners manager position and the lists look both logical and realistic to me.

There will be plenty of time to talk about the manager though. That is a high enough profile position to receive media attention. Jerry Dipoto has done much more than make a decision on Lloyd McClendon. In fact, McClendon was the last of several dominoes that fell this week. Here is a recap:

  • Rich Donnelly (third base coach)
  • Chris Gwynn (farm director)
  • Trent Jewett (bench coach)
  • Lloyd McClendon (manager)
  • Joe McIlvaine (assistant to the GM)
  • Joe Nigro (MLB scout)
  • Mike Rojas (bullpen coach)
  • Duane Shaffer (MLB scout)
  • Ted Simmons (assistant to the GM)
  • Andy Van Slyke (outfield coach)
  • Pete Vuckovich (assistant to the GM)
  • Chris Prieto (was MLB coach)
  • Rick Waits (was pitching coach)
  • Edgar Martinez (hitting coach)
  • Chris Woodward (infield coach)
  • Tom Allison (pro scouting director)
  • Roger Hansen (assistant to the GM)
  • Jeff Kingston (assistant GM)
  • Tim Kissner (international scouting director)
  • Tom McNamara (amateur scouting director)

It is hard to say too much about all the moves at this point. Frankly, it would have been unsurprising if Dipoto let everyone go, with the possible exception of 'Gar. His standing within the franchise is too high-profile and I would imagine there was significant pressure to keep him.

If any move is interesting among these, I would say it is keeping Chris Woodward. That may signal something about Dipoto and what he is about. The next Mariners manager may not be able to hire his own infield coach, assuming Woodward wants to stay. I find it interesting, and maybe even surprising, that a GM has a clear enough vision of what he wants that he can find the right infield coach without knowing who the manager is. This suggests to me that the manager will work very closely with Dipoto, and to a noticeable degree be expected to carry out Dipoto's wishes and vision. This sort of relationship is certainly more "new age," with the team's leadership revolving around the general manager instead of the manager.

In general, I anticipate a mass migration from the Angels front office (specifically their baseball operations division) up north to Seattle. Dipoto was in LA of A long enough to hire many of "his people" in leadership positions, and given that he lost the power struggle there, and new Angels GM Billy Epler likely wants to hire many of his own connections, it seems that many of people Dipoto works with best are about to be free agents. MLB contracts typically run through October 31, plus MLB prefers teams do not make news during the playoffs, so it is doubtful that the Mariners will announce many (or any) new hires soon. However, it would be worth paying attention to Eppler and the Angels as they figure out who will stay and go. Anyone cut loose should immediately become a strong candidate to join the Mariners in some leadership role.

However, with that said, the Mariners front office under Zduriencik had more positions than Dipoto's heirarchy in LA of A. So, he might not replace some of the people let go. We will get more of the Dipoto's vision over the next few weeks as we get news of Mariners hires.