A lot of boxes were packed in a three-day span at Safeco Field last week.
With the Mariners sitting dead-last in the majors, the powers-that-be announced General Manager Bill Bavasi had been relieved of his duties early in the week. On Thursday, Seattle canned manager John McLaren, who had led the club to a lackluster 68-84 record since taking over for Mike Hargrove last season.
More change is expected; struggling first baseman Richie Sexson (hitting an anemic .220) is expected to be jettisoned, along with his $15,500,000 2008 salary. Jose Vidro, the Mariners designated “hitter” may also find a new home. I say “hitter” because the M’s DH is batting a paltry .219.
When announcing Bavasi’s firing, Mariners chief executive officer Howard Lincoln told reporters the Mariners would “make changes as necessary to get this thing turned around as quickly as possible.”
Lincoln also stated “nothing’s off the table.”
It all starts with Bavasi’s successor, whether that is interim GM Lee Pelekoudas, or someone else from outside the organization. The new GM’s vision will determine much of the Mariners fortunes.
Will the new GM value the insight of the sabremetric community? Or will he, like Bavasi, prefer make-up and a veteran presence over statistical information? Critics of Bavasi said he too often valued players with great personalities and experience over younger, cheaper and just as effective players. There are a number of examples: Rich Aurilia, Scott Speizio, Jeff Cirillo, and others who turned out to be huge busts in Seattle.
Which leads to the Mariners predicament: they simply put all their eggs (and their George Sherill’s and Adam Jones’) into the basket that this year would be THE year when they traded for Erik Bedard, he of the 4-4 record. That’s not what Seattle expected when they put together the package of Sherill, Jones and three prospects for the Baltimore left-hander.
Bavasi thought the M’s were one player away from the playoffs; his critics did not. The results have shown who was right on that one.
Pelekoudas now has the unenviable position of interim GM with a huge set of questions on his plate. Do the Mariners blow up the team this year, with an eye for the future? That might mean trying to find a different home for Bedard.
Seattle would be best served to cut ties with Sexson and Vidro, as they can get the same performance out of their minor leaguers, and address the issue of a permanent replacement during the offseason, because they won’t get anything of value out of the two by trades.
If Lincoln isn’t simply spitting empty rhetoric designed to inspire hope in the fans, these moves and more are sure to be quick to come to fruition.