Will Scott Servais make it through the Mariners’ rebuild with his job?
ESPN baseball insider Jeff Passan offered up a thought about the Seattle Mariners during his bi-weekly visit with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk that you could call, well, a little eye-opening.
“I don’t think Jerry Dipoto after getting his extension last year has to fret for his job,” Passan said Tuesday about the Mariners general manager. “Scott Servais does, though. I think at the end of this year some heads are going to have to roll, and the manager is the likeliest to really have a big impact.”
While Servais’ job as Mariners manager isn’t in jeopardy at the moment, Passan does have a point – it is extremely rare for an MLB manager to make it through a team’s rebuild. In fact, the only example Passan could offer up was Kansas City’s Ned Yost, who joined the Royals in 2010, endured three losing seasons, turned KC into an 86-win team in the fourth year then took the Royals to back-to-back World Series, including a championship in 2015.
Servais at least doesn’t have a history of losing as Mariners skipper. In his debut 2016 season with Seattle the team won 86 games and last year they won 89, which is the sixth-best record in Mariners history. So in that respect, he’s ahead of the curve.
Mike Salk, who freely admits to being biased when it comes to Servais, pressed Passan a little more.
“That has certainly been the history of baseball,” Salk said about the fact that managers rarely make it through rebuilds. “I’m going to ask a dumb question and I’ll preface it that way: Does it really have to (be that way)? Look at the team. Is it Scott Servais’ fault that every guy he brings in from the bullpen is worse than the guy before him? … Honestly, Jeff, they’ve brought in guys who are some of the worst pitchers I’ve ever watched at the major league level. It doesn’t matter how you manage them.”
Passan’s response: “Totally fair and reasonable point, totally air-tight logic, and none of it matters.”
Then again, for the Mariners, it might.
Servais came aboard along with Dipoto as the GM’s chosen right-hand man, and they both were given extensions midway through the 2018 season. Considering the Mariners won 89 games and then announced in the offseason that it would undergo a roster “re-imagining” and that 2019 would be a “step-back season,” it seems that Servais’ job is safer than other managers whose teams might lose two-thirds of its games.
“You guys will tell me I’m biased, and you’re right – I am a Scott Servais fan, and I don’t know whether he’s a great manager or not, or a great in-game manager. But he’s the guy they chose to go through this rebuild with,” Salk said. “They gave him a three-year extension last year. They chose to go through this rebuild with him because of his experience in player development and his work with young players. Unless he isn’t doing the job with those young players, unless he loses the ability to lead J.P. Crawford, Mallex Smith, Domingo Santana – unless he can’t handle those guys and he’s lost them, I think you have to ride with him. And you have to show that you’re committed to what this rebuild is going to be.”
You can listen to the full segment with Passan in the player embedded in this post, and pick up with Brock and Salk’s reaction following the interview around the 20-minute mark in this podcast of Tuesday’s show.