Wednesday, November 6, 2013 @ 4:09pm
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik joined 710 ESPN Seattle's "Wyman Mike and Moore" Wednesday afternoon and gave insight into why he chose former Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon as his next manager before giving some quick thoughts on a number of free agents Seattle might pursue.
McClendon, who will be introduced to the media Thursday afternoon, was a finalist for the Mariners job in 2010 when Eric Wedge was hired. Why now and not then, Zduriencik was asked?
"He's a tough guy, he's a quiet guy," M's general manager Jack Zduriencik said of new skipper Lloyd McClendon. (AP)
Zduriencik admitted that McClendon's managerial experience was a factor in his selection but revealed that he wasn't the only candidate who had managed at the big-league level.
"Experience as a manager helped but we had many discussions with guys who had managerial experience before that," Zduriencik said. "At the end this was the group of five that we thought were the best fit for us."
Part of the vetting process included talking to numerous players who had played for McClendon. Zduriencik liked what he heard.
"To a man, even the players in Detroit right now had great things to say about his demeanor," Zduriencik said. "He's a tough guy, he's a quiet guy, very humble. It's not out there, it's not in-your-face personality but it is a very confident inner quietness about him, but his players play hard for him and they respect him."
Most view McClendon as an "old-school" type of manager much like the man he coached under for the past eight years, Jim Leyland. The Mariners, however, have been moving toward using numbers more, and utilize an entire analytics department in baseball operations. According to Zduriencik, this is something McClendon is ready and willing to work with.
"We went over a lot of the things that we are doing – some of the stuff we view that we are going to do in the future – presented it to him, and Lloyd's response was, 'This is great. I am all in on everything. Anything that is going help us get better, give us an advantage, I am going to be wide open to. I am looking forward to sitting down with all your baseball ops guys and hear their contributions as well as the old-school baseball guys and kind of put the whole package together and make decisions and move forward with that thought process.' "
With the manager search behind him, it is now time for Zduriencik to turn his focus to the roster. Jim Moore went rapid fire with his question for Zduriencik and got the following responses:
Moore: "Will you be pursuing Jacoby Ellsbury?"
Zduriencik: "Good call."
Moore: "Shin-Soo Choo?"
Zduriencik: "Good call."
Moore: "Masahiro Tanaka?"
Zduriencik: "Outstanding talent."
The closest Zduriencik came to actually answering a question about pursuing a free agent was when he was asked if Seattle would bring back Raul Ibanez.
"Raul was a integral part of what we have been done and certainly we are going to have discussions with Raul, no question," Zduriencik answered.
Finally, Zduriencik addressed the question of what he personally could do through player acquisition to help interest the fanbase again. He pointed out that in addition to having "a lot" of payroll flexibility this year he believed that the young players would take another step forward with another year under their belts and that there should be excitement for what we saw from the young pitching in September.
Despite the positives he sees, he understands that at this point of the year it is nothing but talk.
"I realize that the proof is in the pudding," Zduriencik said. "You have to prove it on the field. I am not going to make great promises right now. We have to do it in spring training and when the season starts, but I can tell you we have worked hard for five years to get us to a point where we have young talent. We have that and I think if we are able to augment it this winter, it is going to be good times moving forward. And we have paid the price.
"Trust me, I understand where the fanbase is, I understand the apathy that is out there."
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 @ 2:14pm
By Shannon Drayer
On Thursday we will learn a lot about new Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, as the introductory press conference will be held at 1 p.m., and he will do the rounds on TV and radio as well. (Programming note, McClendon will join the Brock and Danny show at 10:30.) I wanted to get a jump on that and spoke with a number of media members and one former player about him and the situation in Detroit for my own knowledge, but will share a few things here with you.
The reaction around baseball was generally positive about the hiring, with many expressing that this was a long time coming and well deserved by McClendon. The question that was asked by many of the fans however was, if he was so great, why didn't Detroit hire him?
Interestingly enough, McClendon came with the endorsement of Jim Leyland and Tony La Russa, but the association with the former may have in part cost him the job.
By all accounts there was some conflict between wanting the continuity of keeping McClendon, who had sat next to Leyland for the past eight years, and bringing in a new voice. Brad Ausmus tipped the scale. Quite simply, he blew them away in the interviews.
Lynn Henning of the Detroit News shared his strong feelings about this on 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz" Tuesday.
"After eight years, Dave Drombowski knew he had fan fatigue with the current administration," Henning said. "It wasn't anything born of hostility or people not realizing they had a good run here but very analogous to a presidential administration where you have had someone in office for eight years. People are generally ready for a new direction.
"Along with that, I thought Lloyd McClendon was probably getting the shaft because of that natural fan fatigue, and that he would be perfect for the M's," he continued. "He's got the experience you need, he's a strong character, good man, he's solid. You don't have any worries about how he is going to handle a clubhouse or dugout situation, so I think you did very well."
Just how much input did McClendon have in Detroit? That is hard to tell. Leyland runs the show in a different manner than most managers. He put a high priority on having a number of coaches that specialize in different areas of the game, and up until last year sacrificed the bench coach position in order to carry another specialist. Those I talked to said that he didn't feel he needed a bench coach. He was going to make his decisions himself, and if he needed input he had a number of coaches to go to.
There did appear to be a hierarchy of coaches, however, with McClendon and Gene Lamont being closest to Leyland. "Cut from the same cloth" is how one person I talked to described them.
I think there is little doubt McClendon is old school. How receptive he is to numbers and metrics is another question. The Mariners have an entire department devoted to baseball analytics. How does this fit into the mix with McClendon? We will have to see. What we do know is McClendon has managed before. He has been the guy before, so there should be no transition or growing pains in that department, according to Henning.
"He is a steady ship captain you are going to need to run all the phases of the game and run them well," Henning said. "He ran a lot of the spring drills. He has an ability to know how to get the guys to laugh, and he does it with command. The general in him has not disappeared since Pittsburg."
Tuesday, November 5, 2013 @ 2:21pm
By Shannon Drayer
After numerous outside confirmations of the initial report from the Puget Sound Business Journal, the Mariners have announced that they have hired Lloyd McClendon to be their next manager.
M's general manager Jack Zduriencik said new skipper Lloyd McClendon is "a tireless worker and is very respected by the players with whom he has worked." (AP)
With McClendon, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik bucks the trend of hiring a manager with no big-league managerial experience as McClendon managed the Pirates from 2001-2005. Since then he has coached under Jim Leyland with the Tigers, handling the hitting-coach duties since 2007. The association with Leyland was something that appealed to Zduriencik.
"Lloyd is a bright and articulate guy," Zduriencik said in the press release. "He has Major League managerial experience and has served in a vital capacity in Detroit under one of the game's best managers. He is a tireless worker and is very respected by the players with whom he has worked. We look forward to Lloyd embracing our players as we move the Mariners forward."
McClendon was a finalist both for the recent managerial opening in Detroit and for the Mariners job that eventually went to Eric Wedge in 2010. Zduriencik had familiarity with McClendon, whose time as a player with Pittsburgh overlapped Zduriencik's tenure there as director of scouting.
McClendon is a so-called baseball lifer, having transitioned straight into coaching after an eight-year playing career. While in Detroit, he was seen as the right-hand man to Leyland (who did not have a bench coach until last year). He is well regarded within the game and many are happy to see him get another opportunity to manage in the big leagues.
As a manager he was known as a fiery competitor who often was at odds with the umpires. It is said that he has mellowed considerably in this regard since. Despite this, those who know him say to expect him to bring an element of toughness to the team.
Heading into the manager search, Zduriencik said that he was looking for someone who would be a teacher first and foremost. McClendon's most recent experience comes with a veteran club but it appeared there was plenty of teaching going on. When we visited Detroit in September there was the impressive sight of the Tigers on the field for early work three of the four days we were there. Popup drills, infield practice, bunting drills and baserunning work were all things we witnessed before batting practice – with a veteran club. There was a considerable amount of work put into the fundamentals.
Other finalists for the position included Padres bench coach Rick Renteria, Athletics bench coach Chip Hale, former White Sox bench coach Joey Cora and Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach.
A press conference to introduce McClendon will be held Thursday.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013 @ 11:02am
By Logan Bawcom
Special to 710Sports.com
Editor's note: Logan Bawcom, 24, is a minor-league pitcher for the Mariners who is traveling abroad to play winter ball for the first time. Follow along as he writes weekly about living and pitching in Venezuela.
Hello to all of your Mariners faithful here reading this blog on winter ball. Or should I say, "Hola fanaticos de los Marineros." I am picking up on the language here as I slowly recall my high school Spanish classes that I semi paid attention in.
I am currently coming to you from Caracas, Venezuela. Yes, that is the same Caracas that is the most dangerous city in the world due to the high number of homicides, most of which go unsolved. That is definitely comforting, knowing the facts when you are coming in to play a series here versus the Tiburones or Leones.
They have two teams that play here in the capital city of Caracas. Upon hearing how dangerous the city was, my family and girlfriend fear every day I have to spend in this city along with the rest of my family. Little do they know they take really good care of us and I actually feel pretty safe.
Venezuela may get a bad reputation for crime and other things, but as long as you go where you are supposed to go and do not venture out too much in places you are not familiar with, you are actually safe. This especially goes for Caracas. If you stay in the hotel and mall areas where they put you up, you will have little to no trouble. The craziest thing that might happen to you will be in the mall if a fan comes up to you and hounds you for a picture or an autograph.
The team puts us up in one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in during my professional career. The hotel is the Gran Melia right down the street from the ballpark. We usually have roommates on the road trips due to the 40-something guys that come on each one. Somehow, I scored my own room. That sounds great and all, but I actually somehow got my own three rooms. They hooked it up with a three-bedroom suite all to myself with a jacuzzi tub and all. I was pleasantly surprised and was hoping we were staying here for more than one night. I don't know if I just drew the right straw or if someone likes me, but heck, I'll take it any day!
This is the first time we have played a team back-to-back games. Most the time we play one game then bring in a new team or head out to play another. It's very different from a pitcher's standpoint because in a series, you can learn how to pitch guys and get tendencies. With only a one-game series, you have to watch a lot closer and remember guys later on when you play them a few weeks later.
The trip to Caracas was memorable to say the least. As I wrote in the previous blogs, the fans here are rowdy and enjoy the game passionately. Some a little too much so because they place some bets on the game and when you lose, they lose. It was around the seventh inning in one of our games and there was a bang-bang play at first base that the umpire called us safe. The manager came out very upset and the fans got rowdy. They chant "sucio", which means "dirty" in Spanish. That would be enough to probably scare the umpire with how loud they chant, but then came the tossing of things. This was my first encounter with things being thrown onto the field in my career. You see this stuff on TV, but I was living in it now. They hurled ice cubes at him for a little bit until someone with pretty good aim got him in the back. This halted the game and they almost cleared the field until the announcer told them to stop.
Most of the time the fans will point out who hit him and then they will be ejected from the stadium. Apparently last year, one of our catchers got hit in the face with a piece of ice and was cut open and got stitches. That being said, you always have to have your head on a swivel here because you just never know.
One thing you do know is that there will be a band there everyday playing the drums. Yes, just like a high-school band with trumpets, tubas, quad and bass drums. Interesting to say the least.
So far in Caracas we are 2-0 and got another game to play here today. Those just so happen to be our only two wins this year, which is not so hot (Editor's note: these first few posts are a week behind). We are playing pretty good baseball, but not in the later innings. After a lot of meetings, we seem to be turning things around. You have to here or they'll get rid of you because winning here is everything.
I am off to the ballpark now and have to check out of my suite, unfortunately. When I get to the ballpark, I'll be checking into my locker, which is in a hallway. At least I got a great night's sleep here and hopefully next time I am in the world's most dangerous city, I can score another suite. Until next time, "fanaticos de los Marineros." (Use Google translate if needed)
Monday, November 4, 2013 @ 10:36am
By Shannon Drayer
Add Rick Renteria's name to the the list of known finalists for the Mariners' managerial position is now up to five with Joey Cora, Chip Hale, Lloyd McClendon and Tim Wallach remaining in the running. Greg Johns of mlb.com is the first to report Renteria as a finalist, I have since confirmed. Sources also tell Johns that there are no other candidates at this time.
If the Mariners want Renteria they may want to act quickly as he is a finalist for the Cubs job as well. Some consider him to be a favorite along with Boston bench coach Torey Lovullo. The Red Sox however, have yet to grant the Cubs permission to talk with Lovullo. Usually interviewing a coach under contract is permitted by the coach's current team, but one of the provisions in allowing the Cubs to hire away Theo Epstein two years ago was that the Cubs would not take any other Red Sox employees for an unknown period of time.
The Cubs are said to still be trying to persuade the Red Sox to allow them to interview Lovullo but if they are unable to do so, they could turn to Renteria.
The managerial search is not the only order of business that kept general manager Jack Zduriencik busy Monday as he also extended the qualifying offer to Kendrys Morales who is expected to turn it down by the Nov. 11 deadline.
The following players have been given the qualifying offer:
Last year, all nine players who received the qualifying offer rejected it. Should a player reject the offer, which is $14.1 million this year, he is still free to negotiate with his former team.
Another list for you on this Monday morning: The Baseball Hall of Fame has announced its Veterans Committee nominees. The following players were unable to get the required percentage of votes while eligible the first time around but are on the Expansion Era Ballot, which will be considered by the 16-member committee.
Tony La Russa
Any candidate that receives 75 percent of the vote or more will earn election into the Hall of Fame. Results of the balloting will be announced Dec. 9 at the winter meetings.
Sunday, November 3, 2013 @ 4:35pm
By Shannon Drayer
Monday update: Johns is reporting Tim Wallach is a finalist as well.
The Mariners appear to be in the home stretch of their search for the next manager as general manager Jack Zduriencik's list has been narrowed down to possibly as few as three and second interviews taking place.
As I reported Friday, former Mariners infielder Joey Cora has interviewed and is a finalist. A team source has confirmed a report from Greg Johns of MLB.com stating that Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon is also a finalist. CBSSports.com adds Athletics bench coach Chip Hale to the list as well.
Former MLB catcher Brad Ausmus was thought to be a favorite but was named the Tigers' manager Sunday.
With Ausmus out, it looks like the Mariners will buck the trend of hiring a manager without managerial experience as Cora, Hale and McClendon have all managed at various levels with McClendon managing the Pirates from 2001-2005. All three have also interviewed with Zduriencik for the manager position with the Mariners in the past.
There had been some thought that the Mariners would interview Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo once the World Series ended, but according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, as of Sunday morning no team had asked permission to interview any of Boston's coaches.
If the list of finalists for the Mariners is indeed down to just three, we should see a manager named this week.
Saturday, November 2, 2013 @ 2:21pm
By Shannon Drayer
A remarkable streak has come to an end in Japan thanks to a former Mariner.
Rakuten Golden Eagles pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, starting Game 6 of the Japan Series, suffered his first loss of the year Saturday. The 25-year-old Tanaka – who if posted looks to become one of the most coveted MLB free agents this winter – gave up four runs in Rakuten's 4-2 loss to the Yomiuri Giants. It was his first loss in 31 games.
Former Mariner Jose Lopez (5) singled, homered and drove in three runs to help the Yomiuri Giants win Game 6 of the Japan Series Saturday. (AP)
I am a fan of international baseball and as such I follow a number of international teams and leagues on Twitter. A series of tweets Saturday morning in Spanish from the Lara Cardenales caught my eye because the name Jose Lopez appeared in them. I thought perhaps he was returning from Japan and Lara was tweeting that he would play for them this winter. A quick trip to Google Translate pointed me in the direction of The Japan Times article.
Next stop was the Japan League website, and then a look at the box score from Game 6. Not a bad night for Lopez, who drove in three of the four runs against Tanaka with a single and a home run. It was the just the third time in 37 starts that Tanaka gave up more than two earned runs.
This may or may not have been the last time Tanaka pitches in Japan as there is a chance that he could pitch again. Rakuten did use him in relief earlier in the postseason and there is speculation they could do so again in the deciding Game 7. No doubt scouts in attendance will wince if this happens as he threw 160 (!) pitches in Game 6. Something to watch for.
So Japan gets a Game 7. My fingers are crossed for the Golden Eagles as they are from Sendai in the Tohoku region, which was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. We traveled through Sendai on our way to put on a clinic for the kids in Ishinomaki when the Mariners opened their season in Tokyo in 2012. No doubt a Series win would bring great joy to the region.
Friday, November 1, 2013 @ 4:49pm
By Shannon Drayer
Within minutes of Eric Wedge announcing he would not return as manager of Mariners, Joey Cora's name was thrown out by members of the national media as someone who was sure to be on the club's short list of candidates to replace him.
In addition to Cora I am hearing that the Mariners are also interested in former MLB catcher Brad Ausmus and that he may be headed to Seattle for a second interview as well.
Cora, 48, played for the Mariners from 1995 to 1997 and served as Ozzie Guillen's bench coach with the White Sox from 2004 to 2011. While Guillen was no doubt the face and the mouth of that White Sox coaching staff, many credit Cora with being the tactician.
Before becoming a major-league coach, Cora managed in the Mets' minor-league system. He has also managed in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Cora interviewed with Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik for the club's managerial position in 2008, when Seattle ultimately hired Don Wakamatsu.
Ausmus, 44, played in the majors for 18 years and has no professional coaching or managing experience. He is currently a special assistant to the general manager with the Padres. He has also interviewed with the Cubs and the Tigers.
In other Mariners news, despite the fact that all of Wedge's coaches were under contract through 2014 and could be considered for positions on the 2014 staff, bench coach Robby Thompson has been told he will not be asked back and third-base coach Jeff Datz has been offered a scouting position. The Seattle Times was the first to report those moves.