Change in Managers
What an interesting ride that was. Two and a half years ago, the Mariners hired Mike Hargrove to take over as the field manager for a team that was trying to find an identity. At the end of the 2005 season, the Mariners created an “administrative coach” position for former Tacoma manager Dan Rohn, who had done nothing but win in Triple-A but was tired of managing in the Pacific Coast League, in order to keep him from leaving the organization. Midway into his second losing season, en route to another last place finish, reports began to surface of friction between the manager and front office, as well as Hargrove and some players. Towards the end of last year, Rohn was fired for insubordination – essentially, he was undermining Hargrove to some of the players on the team – and, at the same time, bench coach Ron Hassey, a close personal friend of Hargrove’s, was also fired. Then, Hargrove was unexpectedly retained as manager for the 2007 season, despite an almost universal belief that they were going to let him go.
Now, halfway into the Mariners most successful season in years, fresh off a seven game winning streak over quality teams such as Boston and Toronto, Mike Hargrove has decided to walk away on his own.
If any of that makes sense to you, raise your hand. We don’t know why Hargrove made this decision, and I’m going to avoid speculation on his reasons, beyond his “accumulation of 35 years” answer that he gave the press today.
So, Mike Hargrove is out, and John McLaren is the manager for at least the rest of the season. What does this mean to the team?
Well, for the most part, I think managers just don’t make as much of a difference as most people believe. There are a few exceptionally good and bad ones, but in general, good teams win in spite of bad managers and bad teams lose in spite of good managers. We’ve laid out our issues with some of Hargrove’s beliefs, and a couple of days ago, we actually complimented how he’s handled the bullpen. So he has done some good things and some bad things.
But, I’m not particularly worried about how the team is going to do under John McLaren. The talent on the field isn’t changing, and this team isn’t 11 games over .500 because of Mike Hargrove. John McLaren is his own guy, and things will probably change in some ways, but in the end, the team is still the team.
In the end, I’m interested to see how McLaren manages and am optimistic that there’s a chance that some of the things the team has done that drive me nuts might end. But, really, this isn’t likely to be a huge deal either way. Managers just don’t really matter all that much.