Change in Managers

Dave · July 1, 2007 at 3:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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.


81 Responses to “Change in Managers”

  1. scraps on July 1st, 2007 9:48 pm

    50: That sounds a lot more like how you think you would feel if you were Hargrove, inasmuch as it has nothing to do with what Hargrove said, or, frankly, how pretty much anyone else is reading Hargrove’s tone and affect.

    22 et f. cetera: Anyone who thinks it is worse to quit than to continue doing a job you know you can’t do well anymore has severe empathy problems, in my goddamned opinion. The Mariners are adults, they are professionals, and they can handle the retirement of their boss, no doubt a lot better than fans who can’t think of anything beyond what the Mariners represent for them, and to hell with human beings with human lives.

  2. davepaisley on July 1st, 2007 10:26 pm

    46 – Really? He’s been home for much of the school year most of his career. It’s not like he’s been lost in Gitmo for 20 years or something (although Baltimore comes close).

    The real reason is either:

    1) Serious illness to close family member, undisclosed as yet

    2) Eased out because of Ichiro issues

    3) Finally realized that, even when he’s successful in Seattle, the fans are ambivalent at best towards him, still downright hostile at worst.

    4) “Brain Delay” finally diagnosed as a clinical disease with no cure in sight (I guess this is a subset of 1)

  3. mln on July 1st, 2007 10:35 pm

    Hargrove is leaving?! What a shock. Even more bizarre, Jeff Weaver pitches 8 innings of 1-run ball today.

    I’m sure that the speculation machine about Why Hargrove Left will now start up. Certain reporters are already raising the idea that Ichiro might have been the cause. What a team cancer he is! 😉

    From Jim Caple on ESPN:

    “Was Hargrove pushed out because of a rocky relationship with Ichiro and the Mariners feeling that re-signing their All-Star required a managerial change? Perhaps, but why wouldn’t they have made such a move last August when the team lost 11 in a row instead of now when they’ve won eight in a row?”

  4. David* on July 1st, 2007 10:48 pm

    I blame the liberal media agenda.

  5. jullberg on July 1st, 2007 11:12 pm

    WHY COULDN’T IT HAVE BEEN BAVASI!!! I can’t wait for the celebration when Bavasi is gone. I will miss Hargrove, but not too much. I honestly am non-plussed about Hargrove leaving. If it was about personal issues, I will feel sorry for him, but as long as we don’t hire Dusty Baker (ruin our pitchers) I don’t think it will hurt us too much. If it means Ichiro is resigning, then bring it on.

  6. dw on July 1st, 2007 11:14 pm

    After much consideration and a couple of hours at the ballpark, I have come to the conclusion that Hargrove didn’t like his job, and he’s not going to go anymore.

  7. drjeff on July 1st, 2007 11:15 pm

    I’m very late to this thread, but as a practicing psychologist just wanted to echo what Karen said above. I have felt for a while that Hargrove seems pretty depressed. He appeared that way today. That would certainly explain his increasing difficulty getting up for what is, contrary to what someone said, a very difficult and demanding job. The grind may have gotten to be too much, and his wife may have been in good spirits because she feels that he is finally doing something to make his life (and by extension, hers) better.

    The obvious disclaimer is that no amount of professional training can allow someone to make a diagnosis based on TV interviews and hunches. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if depression was one of the roots of this resignation.

  8. Beniitec on July 1st, 2007 11:21 pm

    On a personal level, I wish you the best retirement a man can have. I know I’ll never have what you will have in retirement.

    On the other hand…root has been removed. Hargrove was the root. He is no longer. Per ichiro:

    “If there is a problem, we need to notice what creates the problem. The problem usually isn’t just on the cover. You need to look much deeper. For example, if we’re talking about a tree and the tree has a problem, you need to look at the root. But you cannot see the root. The mistake is to keep watering the fruit. That’s not going to solve anything.”

  9. Mr. Egaas on July 1st, 2007 11:24 pm

    Why do I get the feeling that in Ichiro’s old age he is going to look just like the sensei from Kill Bill 2?

  10. BKM on July 2nd, 2007 12:55 am

    58. Yes. You’re exactly right. You were there in the room when Ichiro said that and so you are fully aware of the context, to the point that you can perfectly suss Ichiro’s meaning.

    I think you speak with envy because you’ll never have what Hargrove will have in retirement.

  11. Arkinese on July 2nd, 2007 3:59 am

    I’m also late to the thread (because I was stuck in the John Wayne Airport for six hours) but I third the “depression” possibility. It was my first thought when I heard those quotes. That’s what people say when they’re clinically depressed. Having dealt with it firsthand, I’m glad he’s taking the steps he needs to deal with it, if that is indeed the case. And I’m very interested to see McLaren.

  12. gaylordperrysplitter on July 2nd, 2007 4:48 am

    (if you happen to see this)

    Besides how you feel about managers not mattering that much: in an ideal world how do you feel about McLaren vs. Rohn? (I am happy to get either one – I think both have their merits and I love seeing guys like that finally get a shot).

    Secondly, do you see any potential changes in the personnel decisions by Bavasi? The prevailing theory here and elsewhere seems to be that Hargrove blocked any Jones/Balentien call-ups because of his aversion to playing rookies (attachment to sucky vets like Vidro, Everett, etc.). Do you expect McLaren to change the equation and how soon?

    And how might this effect the M’s becoming ‘buyers’?

    Thanks for your insightfulness, as always.

  13. bermanator on July 2nd, 2007 5:26 am

    With the usual caveat that nobody knows what Ichiro is thinking except Ichiro, it’s hard for me to believe that the Mariners’ chances for re-signing him will be enhanced if the perception that Hargrove left because of a power struggle with him gets some legs in the mainstream media.

    How about the journalists out there actually say “I don’t know” when they don’t have any information, rather than just speculating?

  14. jeffinfremont on July 2nd, 2007 6:02 am

    59: It would be totally sweet. He’d do that stroke of his long, white beard after every hit.

  15. Kouvre on July 2nd, 2007 6:25 am

    Well, as long as John doesn’t turn out to be the Joe Kerrigan to Grover’s Jimy Williams, I think this is going to be good for the M’s.

    Regardless, good luck Grover in whatever you do, and thanks for at least playing a minor role in getting this team back where it needs to be.

  16. Joe Bag o' Doughnuts on July 2nd, 2007 7:10 am

    I suspect McLaren has been ‘managing’ for a while now. Hargrove didn’t suddenly become depressed. It happens over a period of time.

    I feel sorry for Mike. For all our criticism, and I’ve ripped him as much as anyone, he’s had some pretty crappy rosters to deal with – Meche and Pineiro as starters; the fifteen catchers in 2005; the collapse of Boone; this year’s rotation of Batista, Ramirez, and Weaver; and so on.

    Did he have his faults? Hell yes. Go find me a manager who doesn’t, and isn’t named Earl Weaver.

  17. Ralph Malph on July 2nd, 2007 8:43 am

    Inscrutable Ichiro quote of the day:

    “He will be missed,” he said of Hargrove. “But I’m not sure in what fashion.”

  18. gk91 on July 2nd, 2007 9:28 am

    McLaren’s going to bring more Bloomie says Bill Kruger on KJR!?

  19. msb on July 2nd, 2007 9:53 am

    Krueger said it in the context of getting the veterans days-off, rather than running them into the ground until they get hurt.

  20. daveblev on July 2nd, 2007 9:58 am

    I’m wondering if those multiple trips to Cleveland for games and his daughter’s graduation did him in…he’s seen Cleveland more this year than ever before so it might have been dragging him back to stay at home more.

  21. msb on July 2nd, 2007 10:06 am

    it is fascinating how many people want to put it onto something outside of Hargrove.

    It has to be Ichiro (even though by all reports they have been fine this year, and it would be contrary to his personality & heritage to undermine the manager), it has to they’re paying him off to get MacLaren in as manager, it has to be that he knws they won’t make deadline deals, it has to be management not giving him security (Baker is sticking by his ‘Hargrove already got his extension’ story, by the way), or power/influence (um, hasn’t Mike gotten all the players he’s asked for?) just like they did to Lou when he left …

  22. spitball on July 2nd, 2007 10:18 am

    As has already been stated, I don’t think that the other shoe has fallen yet. Until it does, we’re all left fumbling around in the dark, since there are really no good baseball reasons for Grover’s abrupt departure.

    In explaining yesterday’s events to my wife (NOT someone who’s knee-deep in game arcana!), her immediate response was, “I hope that he or his wife aren’t sick.”

    Intuition’s a hard thing to wrap one’s arms around, especially if one is inclined only towards empirical explanations. But sometimes, gut feelings turn out to be right.

    I just hope this isn’t one of those times.


  23. jamesllegade on July 2nd, 2007 10:38 am


    What is lacking from japanese heritage is the open air pissing and moaning that most american/latin players do in the press and in the locker room.

    If you are japanese and do not like the manager you play hard for him everyday and then just leave the team when your contract is up.

    I think we can all agree that would be bad… Worse than this.

  24. Jim Thomsen on July 2nd, 2007 11:39 am

    My thanks to USS Mariner readers (and Kitsap Mariner fans) Nathan Bishop, Eric Newcomer, Laurie Jones and Mark Biggs, who all responded to my call for comment on Hargrove’s resignation in the Kitsap Sun.

  25. msb on July 2nd, 2007 12:05 pm

    oooh, the best theory yet.

    Hargrove is leaving because a menopausal Sharon doesn’t want an empty nest 🙂

  26. CouchGM on July 2nd, 2007 12:15 pm

    The broadcasts are so much better this year than they’ve been in years.

    I agree, but do we really need to get the traffic reports shoehorned into the games???
    Seems they can say, each break in the action will be lead off with a traffic update. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

  27. msb on July 2nd, 2007 1:00 pm

    ah, Fain … there has to be something unhealthy with the Mariners FO if both Lou and Hargrove leave and Melvin gets canned after an extension.

    Apparently Dick has never actually watched any other franchise.

  28. bat guano on July 2nd, 2007 3:06 pm

    I think #75 may be onto something. Does it strike anyone else as odd that Grover’s wife is so publicly involved in this? And didn’t he seem less relieved than you’d expect someone to be if he’d just had the weight of the world taken from his shoulders? Do you suppose Grover’s been a naughty boy and Sharon gave him some sort of ultimatum? Pure speculation on my part and probably wrong, but it makes about as much sense as anything else……

  29. Karen on July 2nd, 2007 4:27 pm

    #75 You should know better than that, msb. There’s nothing worse than a “retired” husband of a menopausal woman.

    They get in the way, they argue with you all the time but think they’re “communicating”, they want your attention like a 4 year old kid, they follow you around and ask what you’re doing (and if you’re really lucky and they’re “handy”, they’ll ask if they can help — unless it’s doing the dishes or vacuuming).

    I hope Mike Hargrove is easy to get along with at his leisure, because if he isn’t, Sharon is going to get him “treated” (if the few of us who’ve speculated on that issue are right) and push him out the door to find another job.

  30. Karen on July 2nd, 2007 4:31 pm

    And #78. No, I don’t find it odd that Sharon was so visible yesterday. It was touching to see how supportive she was, as I imagine she’s been every day of that 35 years they referred to.

    In fact, I think it’s a lot MORE odd that we have some of the attention-grabbers like ARod’s wife, who was photographed yesterday wearing a t-shirt with a prohibited-in-Yankee-Stadium message that most people would have been escorted out of the ballpark for wearing.

  31. msb on July 3rd, 2007 7:49 am

    #79– oh, that wasn’t me, that was a [male] caller to the radio.

    and (#78) why would it be odd to talk to the woman he has been with for about 45 of his 58 years?

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