By Shannon Drayer
Add Giants bench coach Ron Wotus and Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon – who was a finalist for the Mariners’ manager job in 2010 – to the list of managerial candidates that general manager Jack Zduriencik has met with or will meet with early this week.
McClendon is the first candidate known to get an interview that has managed at the big-league level. This clearly is not a major qualification for the job with the Mariners, or apparently any of the other teams with vacancies, as the Reds have given Bryan Price his first big-league managing job and the Nationals are poised to do the same with Matt Williams. The Cubs seem to be the team most willing to go with experience as they have interviewed Manny Acta and are scheduled to talk with Eric Wedge and A.J. Hinch. The Tigers are also said to have McClendon high on their list.
One note I missed last week: Marinres pitching coach Carl Willis interviewed in Baltimore for the Orioles’ pitching-coach position, which was previously held by another former Mariners pitching coach, Rick Adair. The Mariners coaches are under contract through the end of 2014, but with the current situation I would expect the Mariners would allow them to interview for other positions.
Posting system might be revamped
Last week I wrote about reports of possible changes coming in the current posting system, and on Monday there is more news on that front. Once again Joel Sherman of the New York Post has the story.
If there is a change – and it appears there will – then that change most likely will be to give the player a limited choice of where he goes. Sherman’s sources tell him only one team will still win the right to negotiate with the player. If this is true, then the choice must come before the team is awarded the negotiating rights. Sherman posits the player may get to pick that team from the two or three top bidders.
How might this affect the Mariners if they were to go after a player like, oh, say, Masahiro Tanaka? For starters, by all appearances any change made would be first and foremost to drive down the posting fees and get more of that money into the hands of the players. Posting fees do not count against the luxury tax so this takes an advantage away from the big spenders who are looking to stay under that tax. The Yankees most likely wouldn’t like this development.
On the flip-side, if a team like the Yankees can get into that final group, then this turns into a situation like most other free-agent signings. The Yankees may not have a lot to spend now, but could they back-load the contract? Money aside, assuming they can get in the ballpark, which team would be more attractive to an international free agent looking to make a splash? This would appear to be an advantage for the larger-market teams.
On that note – and take this with a grain of salt because it is just talk – I have heard the word in Japan is that while some Japanese players in the past have preferred Seattle as a destination because of the team’s relationship with Japan and Seattle’s standing as a comfortable destination for their families, Tanaka would prefer to go to one of the big-market teams. The Yankees are said to be high on his list. I am not convinced that a change in the posting rules would be a good thing for the Mariners.
Again, just talk, but we will see how it plays out.
From the “been there, done that” file
The Mariners found their names in the news once again during the World Series after research turned up that they were the only other team to lose a game on a walk-off obstruction call.
That game-ending play happened Aug. 6, 2004, in the 10th inning against the Devil Rays in St. Petersburg. With Carl Crawford on third, Tino Martinez hit a ball to Raul Ibanez in left field. Jose Lopez, who was playing shortstop at the time, came in behind third in case the ball needed to be cut off. Willie Bloomquist, who was playing third, was also in the area.
Ibanez threw to the plate and, despite the fact that Crawford did not break for home, umpire Paul Emmel signaled him in by calling Lopez for obstruction. Lopez did not make contact with Crawford nor was he between him and the plate. Emmel claimed that Lopez obstructed Crawford’s view from the left fielder when he threw his shoulder up as Ibanez got ready to throw the ball in.
It was easily one of the most ridiculous calls I had ever seen, and the explanation we got from crew chief Joe West minutes later in the umpires’ dressing room did little to nothing to convince me otherwise. The call Saturday night was a good one. Nine years ago in St. Petersburg? Not so much.
Finally, the Arizona Fall League’s “Fall Stars Game” (formerly the Rising Stars Game) will be played Saturday at Surprise Stadium. Rainiers outfielder Stefen Romero and Jackson reliever Carson Smith have been selected to represent the Mariners in the game that can be seen on the MLB Network.