By Shannon Drayer
Things have been rather quiet on the Mariners' search for a new team president. Bob Nightengale of USA Today has put an end to that, however, writing Thursday that Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa is a candidate for the job.
Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln will make the hire and hopes to have a new president named by president Chuck Armstrong's last day, which is Jan. 29. Interviews with internal candidates are already underway.
La Russa, who currently holds a special assistant position with Major League Baseball, has expressed his desire to work in upper management for a team since his retirement from field managing. In an October interview, Lincoln told me that he would be looking for a person who among other things possessed a great "knowledge of baseball", not just the ins and outs of the game and familiarity with players but knowing the agents, the umpires and other executives as well. LaRussa, who sits on the Commisioner's Special Committee for On-Field Matters with Armstrong, would appear to fit that bill.
Nightengale points out in his article that the Mariners could be satisfied with replacing Armstrong with one of the internal candidates, and if so, La Russa may not be interviewed. I have heard that the Mariners are open to the possibility of splitting the title between baseball operations and business.
I have to wonder if there is also the possibility of going with an interim president and opening up the position to a larger group of candidates next year. It is highly unlikely that any sitting general manager or executive would be allowed to interview for the job this close to the start of the season. For now, La Russa would appear to be a good candidate.