Mariners manager Servais explains how he’ll measure success in 2020
The Mariners are in the second season of their rebuild, but 2020 will look a lot different than 2019 as far as the types of players dominating playing time in Seattle.
In 2019, you had some veterans that were expected to either be traded at the deadline or would walk in free agency after the season ended, but there were still some young players getting solid playing time.
This year, young players will be the focus at the big league level, as many of the team’s top prospects will see the majority of innings as the season goes on. Those players include Kyle Lewis, Evan White, Shed Long Jr., J.P. Crawford and Justus Sheffield.
It’s likely the Mariners will finish the season with a similar record to 2019 when they finished 68-94, which is to be expected as the young core experiences some natural growing pains. Even though the Mariners almost certainly won’t be competing for a playoff berth – they don’t expect to – Mariners manager Scott Servais told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant that there’s still plenty to learn and accomplish in a very different 2020.
“It’s really fun. I’ve enjoyed this camp and coming into camp, we knew it was going to be different in a good way and the fact that there was really going to be a priority on us, our coaching staff, the people around our team to simplify,” he said.
The whole gang's here. 💪
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) February 18, 2020
Servais said the team has plans in place for each individual player and that the coaching staff has regular meetings with each player to discuss said plan. That plays a large part in how Servais and the organization are measuring success in 2020 rather than in typical wins and losses.
“Are we consistently getting better?” Servais said. “Are we sticking to our process and not getting so caught up in the result and chasing that win every night. Believe me, when the game starts, I want to win as much as anybody. Our players are focused on winning. But along the way, are we getting better? Are players understanding our process? Are coaches getting the messaging through to them?”
Servais acknowledged it takes some players longer than others to get acclimated, but getting things right for each player is what’s most exciting for his coaching staff.
“You don’t know when the player is going to get it and take off and run with it,” he said. “That’s the fun thing for coaching and knowing that eventually it is going to make a difference for the player and for the team and that’s what we’re shooting for here. We have a chance to be really good for a long time with this group of players and especially with the wave behind this group (with top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez) is really exciting as well.”
2020 will be a seasons of first for many players, such as their big league debut, first opening day and so on. Servais and his staff will be keeping a close eye on how the young guys handle the big moments.
“Opening day is a big deal … everybody’s got jitters,” Servais said. “How do they work through that? How long does it take them to just relax and go out and just play the game and not worry about some of the names on the back of the jerseys on the other team … some guys don’t care, they know they fit in immediately (but for) others it takes a little longer time. That excites me in how quickly can we get this group comfortable and really feel like they’re a part at the big league level.”
While the younger players are going to be the center of attention, Servais said he’s blessed with key leaders like Kyle Seager and Marco Gonzales, who’ve been instrumental in making the younger players comfortable at camp. Seager, a former All Star who is the longest-tenured Mariner, has really stood out.
“Seags has been great this spring,” Servais said. “I see him in there playing ping pong in the morning with some of our young players. I see him constantly talking yo guys in the dugout and I really, really appreciate that and it says a lot about where Kyle is at and how much he’s willing to give back.”
Listen to Servais’ full interview with Danny and Gallant at this link or in the player below at the 25:15 mark.
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