By Shannon Drayer
Update: I have got confirmation that the Mariners did indeed talk with Lou Piniella about the open manager position but it does not appear that they actively pursued him as a source told Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Instead, the topic came up in a separate, recent conversation and Piniella expressed interest. He thought about it for a couple of days and decided to not pursue the opportunity.
It looks like it’s time to take a break from my break.
The Mariners, according to Ken Rosenthal on FOXSports.com, put the “full-court press” on Lou Piniella in their attempt to bring him back to Seattle. As manager. Piniella declined, saying he does not want to manage again and is content with his current limited involvement in the game.
So many interesting things about this reported move, far more interesting than the “step away from 1995” comments that are running rampant on Twitter right now.
Former Mariners manager Lou Piniella reportedly declined the team’s overtures about a return to the dugout. (AP)
It is interesting that Piniella was actually approached. If he were to come back there had to be a willingness to give the veteran manager the assurances and control they had to know he would demand. If Piniella wanted a struggling first- or second-year player sent down, that player would have to be sent down. As I wrote in September, I believe control over the 25-man roster was one of the issues that led to Eric Wedge deciding not to return. I believe there were times there were players on the roster he would have rather seen in Triple-A. That would not fly with Lou.
Another interesting aspect of the attempted move was there was little chance this would be for the long term. At 70 years old, it is doubtful Piniella would want to manage for more than a couple of years. Was this looked at as a quick fix before they went in a different direction?
I have no doubt Piniella could teach this group a lot about the game. Toughness, being ready, competing, fundamentals and from the stories I have heard from his former players, a lot about hitting. The question is, and it apparently has been answered, would he want to? Piniella wasn’t the biggest fan of youth, young pitching in particular, and learning on the job, if my memory serves me right.
As for the anger on Twitter about being married to 1995, I believe not every move connected to that would necessarily be a bad one. I am in the camp that the Mariners try to capitalize on 1995 too much. As someone who is grateful that baseball is still in Seattle and as a fan of the game, that team and that season will always be special to me. Do I need to see it trotted out multiple times a season almost 20 years later? No. That said, I see no reason to cut off the nose to spite the face.
It is not how that group is being used and being put in front of us that bothers me. Rather, it is how they are not being used. Sure, they all look great on TV and sound great on the radio. They all can throw out a nice first pitch – okay, Mike Blowers’ was a little wild, but we will let that go. But I believe that Dan Wilson, Edgar Martinez, Blowers and Jay Buhner have more to offer and really don’t deserve the Twitter eye-roll they get when viewed as part of a forced memory. Why wouldn’t you want these guys and a good number of others from 1995 associated with your team?
For starters, the four mentioned above all stayed here in Seattle and have been active in the community. How many players have done that? They have also shown a great commitment to this organization. They bleed teal. They want to see this organization successful again; it means something to them. It is a part of them. On a personal note, having spent a good amount of time with all of them, I have learned that in addition to being good-to-great baseball players, they are all great people. Again, why wouldn’t you want them working with your team? Perhaps the best reminder of 1995 the organization could provide would be to have one or more of them working closer with this team.
The opportunity is there. For better or worse, Piniella will not be the manager, but a manager and coaches will be hired. We know Edgar can hit. We don’t know if he can teach. Why not find out? What could Wilson do on a daily basis? A better question might be, what couldn’t he do? What hasn’t Buhner seen on the field or experienced in the clubhouse? What could he teach a group about being a team and a teammate? Or about toughness? How many times have we heard Blowers call a play before it happens? He sees the game before it happens. It is called baseball smarts and he has it to the nth degree.
It isn’t just about 1995. This group and others were there but more importantly, and perhaps relevant to what we see today, is that they got there.
At this point I don’t know if anyone from this group is being considered for anything, but the possibility is there. With this group it is about more than history. This is about good baseball people, and to dismiss them and others would be a mistake.