Reaction From the Scribes
The day after the announcement, the local writers weigh in.
Larry Stone: Mariners Go for Stability.
Stone writes a straight news story instead of the opinion column, getting some solid quotes from all involved.
“John McLaren stepped in, and he led the team to a winning season,” Lincoln said. “He certainly has the confidence and trust and respect of our players. That’s extremely important. So I think he deserves another season.
Mariners record under John McLaren: 40-41. So, apparently, you can lead a team to a winning season while simultaneously losing more games than you win.
“In Bill’s case, Bill has produced a winning season. That was the first challenge. He didn’t get us to the playoffs, but I think he deserves to continue on as the general manager. It’s so disruptive to an organization to change general managers…
He’s got a point here – we really don’t want to disrupt this good thing we have going in Seattle. After all, we just had a winning season, our first in four years, despite outspending 80% of other teams in payroll. Can’t mess with that kind of success.
“Certainly, in baseball you cannot please everybody,” he said. “I fully expect some people will support this decision, some people will not. But somebody has to make the decision. And somebody has to figure out what’s in the best interest of the franchise. And that’s my job.”
The faction they’ve chosen not to please – the people who want to see this team win.
Said Armstrong: “No matter how you slice it and dice it â€” and we are disappointed with falling back â€” we’re still over .500. We’ve made great improvement. We are appreciative and greatly impressed at the job McLaren did coming in at a very difficult time, right before the All-Star break, and keeping this team together. They never quit. They’re not quitting now.”
Do you think that Chuck Armstrong is aware that the Mariners have been outscored by 27 runs this year? They didn’t have to quit – they were beaten instead.
Geoff Baker: M’s celebrate in win over Indians.
Baker gets some of the player’s perspective in his game wrap-up. Jose Guillen, Baker’s personal quote machine:
“Hopefully, we got the right man for the job, but we’ll see,” Guillen said. “We’re going to have to wait and see next year what kind of manager he’s going to be.
“He’s too nice to everybody. I want to see him get tougher and get mean to a lot of people. That’s what I want to see from him, and I told him. I don’t care. That’s what I want to see from him.”
Amen, Jose. Amen. Hopefully, John McLaren can learn how to be a manager, and not the veteran’s best friend, by next spring.
“I think he did a great job,” Ibanez said. “He’s got great qualities as a leader and he’s a stand-up guy. He looks you in the eye and tells you the truth. What you see is what you get with him and I really appreciate that, not just as a boss but as a human being.”
Great qualities as a leader = He lets me do whatever I want. Asking Ibanez if he likes McLaren is like asking the eight year old who is eating chocolate cake for dinner and playing video games til midnight if he likes his babysitter.
“Since Bavasi’s been here, the record’s gotten better,” (Sherrill) said. “Hearing you [media] guys talk, some people out there aren’t real happy with how we run stuff but I think our record speaks for itself.”
Winning ~85 games while being outscored by your opponents on a $110 million payroll does indeed speak for yourself. It just doesn’t say what you think it says, George.
“You’re managing people,” Ibanez said. “Twenty-five different personalities. You’re managing different people than in other industries. You’re managing personnel. Intense, driven. There’s an obsessive drive with that. So it’s not an easy job to come into.”
The moment a manager thinks his job is more about managing people than winning baseball games, he’s lost. Managing people is certainly a huge part of his job, but it absolutely cannot come at the expense of the primary goal. That’s something the Mariners have just failed to grasp.
John Hickey: Bavasi, McLaren to return for 2008 season.
Here’s Hickey’s version of the story with a few different quotes.
As always, the Mariners need starting pitching, but Bavasi already made it clear he will not trade the players he considers his best prospects in exchange for pitching. Outfielder Adam Jones and catcher Jeff Clement will not be dealt, Bavasi said.
Wladimir Balentien, on the other hand, should start packing his bags right now.
“When all is said and done, we had a good year,” McLaren said. “We got into the final week of the season in contention for the wild card. I think we’ve come a long way.”
Only in McLarenville is “if the Yankees lose every game the rest of the way, the Tigers don’t get hot, and we win eight straight to end the season” a definition of contention.
“We didn’t finish quite the way we wanted,” Washburn said. “But we’re in position now to have solidarity going into next season.”
Oh, well, hold your horses – the team is going to have solidarity next year. That should make up for the lack of talent.
Larry LaRue: Standing Pat to Standing O.
A few quotes here that only LaRue worked into his piece.
â€œWe are not at all happy with the big collapse at the end. But when you look at the overall, big picture we finished way above anybodyâ€™s expectations,â€ Washburn said.
â€œSo weâ€™re disappointed that we didnâ€™t get to the playoffs. … But I think we exceeded everybodyâ€™s expectations, and itâ€™s pretty ironic that people are bashing people at the end because we didnâ€™t make the playoffs.â€
This is just a myth that needs to die. Almost everyone here had the team pegged for 80-85 wins, which is almost exactly what they’re going to end up with. They exceeded expectations for four months, then regressed heavily to the mean. With all apologies to Dennis Green, they are what we thought they were – a mediocre team with strengths and weaknesses that wasn’t good enough to get to the playoffs.
â€œItâ€™s a complex job, itâ€™s not as simple as it seems. Itâ€™s not fantasy baseball. It just isnâ€™t,â€ Bavasi said. â€œWe actually deal with the day-to-day realities of putting humans out there.â€
And, there you go – the obligatory reference to fans not understanding how things work in the real world and trying to run the franchise like a fantasy team. Here’s a little hint, though – we don’t want you to run the Mariners like a fantasy team – we want you to run them like a real baseball organization, utilizing all information possible and not holding yourselves above learning new things. You know, like the Red Sox, Indians, A’s, Diamondbacks, Padres, Yankees, or Brewers do. Real analysis isn’t just for nerds with spreadsheets anymore.