By Brent Stecker
The hiring of Lloyd McClendon as manager was just the start of a very noteworthy offseason for the Seattle Mariners.
After Seattle brought McClendon aboard on Nov. 5, it also signed superstar second baseman Robinson Cano to a massive 10-year, $240 million deal, added slugging first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart, and brought in role players including utility man Willie Bloomquist, outfielder Logan Morrison and catcher John Buck. Even the front office was subject to change, as Kevin Mather was promoted Friday to club president and COO to replace the retiring Chuck Armstrong.
New Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said he’s more concerned with having leaders on the field than in the clubhouse. (AP)
Even with all those transactions behind them, the Mariners may still yet make some big moves before Spring Training opens on Feb. 13, as McClendon told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” Friday.
“I’ll just say stay tuned. Hopefully there’s some more things to come,” McClendon said.
The Mariners still have a few needs to fill, specifically in the starting rotation, where it’s expected at least one free agent would fill in a space between All-Stars Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, and prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, who both made their Major League debuts late in 2013. The Mariners were reportedly interested in highly coveted Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka, but the right-hander signed a big contract with the Yankees, leaving Seattle with few other top-of-the-line starting pitcher options.
Regardless of if Seattle signs another starter or a power bat in the outfield (something else its been rumored to be in the market for), McClendon believes the Mariners roster already looks must better than the team he inherited that finished 71-91 in 2013.
“I think we’re getting better,” he said. “You know, you’re always looking to get better. (General manager) Jack (Zduriencik) has done a tremendous job of getting us some talent to this point. From when I took the job to where we are now, we’re a better club.”
Another thing the Mariners were expected to address was clubhouse leadership, especially after a Dec. 7 Seattle Times story painted the franchise as particularly dysfunctional. McClendon said he feels the tales of the Mariners’ lack of leadership was overblown, and that their poor records had more to do with the on-field product.
“I’ve heard this word, leadership, ever since I took the job, and I read all the articles about the club, and lack of leadership in the clubhouse and stuff, and I just don’t buy into that,” McClendon said. “I need leaders on the field. I need guys to hit three-run homers, execute a pitch, make a play, get an out. I can put my cheerleading outfit on with the best of them in the clubhouse and get that done, but I need guys on the field to be good.”