It’s Official: Welcome Don Wakamatsu

Dave · November 18, 2008 at 4:33 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

KING 5 either broke the story or guessed right this morning, depending on your point of view, but Baker et al confirm that there’s a press conference tomorrow to name Don Wakamatsu as the new manager of the Mariners.

As we’ve said hundreds of times here, the field manager matters a lot less in baseball than in most sports. For the most part, they’re all very similar – they basically all do the same things, so the difference from one to another is mostly minor. There are a few guys who definitely have an impact on their clubs one way or another, but the majority of them are all pretty much the same.

However, I still think we should be encouraged by this hiring. Not necessarily because we have any reason to think that Wakamatsu will be one of those few that make a significant positive impact, but because of the way this entire process was handled. I know a lot of you were concerned when Zduriencik was hired that this was just going to be more of the same, with huge amounts of micro-managing from Armstrong and Lincoln, and a perpetuation of old school, 20th century ways of running an organization.

Instead, we’ve seen Zduriencik clean house in the front office, make his #2 guy a man with significant statistical leanings and empower him to create a department of baseball research, and now interviewed seven managerial candidates with no experience and picked the guy whose reputation is for being extremely well prepared in pregame analysis and comes from the A’s organization. In picking Wakamatsu, he bypassed Joey Cora, who was clearly the guy the suits upstairs had a preference for, and went with the man he felt was best equipped to help this team win.

There’s no way to describe the last month as anything but total and utter change of direction. And that, in and of itself, is encouraging.

Welcome to Seattle, Don Wakamatsu. Please win.


79 Responses to “It’s Official: Welcome Don Wakamatsu”

  1. msb on November 19th, 2008 8:44 am

    per, the Times:

    Minor-league coaching: Record of 215-248 as manager. California League manager of the year with Class A High Desert in 1998, and also managed at A Peoria (1997), AA El Paso (1999) and AA Erie (2000). Minor-league coordinator and roving catching instructor for the Angels (2001-02). Also served in Diamondbacks, Indians and Cubs organizations.

    Major-league coaching: With Rangers 2003-07, first three as bench coach, and served as manager for two games when Buck Showalter was hospitalized. Third-base coach in 2007. Was bench coach last season for Oakland Athletics.

  2. BBOneFive on November 19th, 2008 9:17 am

    I’m calling him “Wilbur”, or maybe “Willie D”, or DeeDub, or “Double D”, or maybe…..

  3. ernier on November 19th, 2008 9:22 am

    The press conference is at 1:30PM PST today

  4. StankeyGrammasBroglio on November 19th, 2008 9:27 am

    I am guessing that the kanji for his surname Wakamatsu are 若松 (which is a rather well-known surname). They mean “Like a pine.” But, as with other language groups, the formation of the 2 words was not the seed for the surname, and no one in Japan thinks about pine trees when they here the name… except if maybe they are nick-naming. Well, if someone can confirm the kanji, then there you have it. Piney. (Sounds like Piniella, no?)

  5. The Ancient Mariner on November 19th, 2008 9:47 am

    JerBear, msb — thanks, I missed that. I shouldn’t have, since now that it’s mentioned, I remember reading that he was the Cal League MOY in ’98.

    And the reason for being concerned would be that people who’ve never managed before at any level before being hired at the major-league level tend not to find great success. As noted, though, his apprenticeship under Showalter would tend to mitigate that anyway.

  6. sass on November 19th, 2008 9:57 am

    I hate to interrupt the love fest, but are we sure Cora was the one the suits wanted (we know it’s who the press wanted)? Wakamatsu is, after all, the first ever Asian-American manager, and the M’s are still, basically, owned by Nintendo. Just throwing it out there.

  7. Mike Snow on November 19th, 2008 10:16 am

    Ken Rosenthal speculates that this could lead to Rick Peterson as the pitching coach. Now that would be an interesting development.

  8. msb on November 19th, 2008 10:17 am

    I hate to interrupt the love fest, but are we sure Cora was the one the suits wanted (we know it’s who the press wanted)?

    all we know is what Stone/Baker wrote:

    “Some team officials were highly supportive of bringing Cora back to replace Jim Riggleman, who was not interviewed for the job he took over on an interim basis after John McLaren was fired June 19. But Zduriencik was given total control over his first managerial hire and allowed to move forward with Wakamatsu, who becomes the team’s fourth manager in just more than 16 months.”

  9. msb on November 19th, 2008 10:18 am

    Ken Rosenthal speculates that this could lead to Rick Peterson as the pitching coach.

    hey! so did I! who knew Ken and I were so simpatico.

  10. Mike Snow on November 19th, 2008 10:25 am

    Nice, msb, I missed that earlier. Way to be ahead of the curve on the rumormongering.

  11. msb on November 19th, 2008 10:31 am

    sigh. the KJR radio audience weighs in:

    Wakamatsu was hired because he was cheap. Because he’ll be a puppet. Because he has no ego.

  12. galaxieboi on November 19th, 2008 10:38 am

    Mr. Peterson has a Wikipedia page if anyone is interested.

    Hopefully he won’t ‘fix’ Felix.

  13. JoeintheClutch on November 19th, 2008 10:38 am

    I can’t believe little Joey Cora didn’t get picked! He’s so special! If only Rick Rizzs was the GM, he would’ve picked Joey for sure.

    For reals, though. If Zduriencik keeps making rational decisions like this, I might have to stop complaining about how poorly the M’s are run. Maybe I’ll even have time for a new hobby or something.

  14. msb on November 19th, 2008 11:19 am

    King5 tracked Wakamatsu down at SeaTac last night.

    Don was very polite about being kept from his wife and baggage claim by a series of inane questions. He might also want to talk to Valle about that hair replacement doc.

  15. msb on November 19th, 2008 1:36 pm

    awesome green tie on Jack today.

    very Seahawksian.

  16. joser on November 19th, 2008 1:50 pm

    Yeah, I saw the King5 thing and my first thought was “Keep the baseball hat on, buddy.” My second thought: he has a pretty hot wife.

    I don’t know why people are complaining about his name. It is phonetic. I just wonder what we’ll call him for short. DonWak? D-Wak? Wacky?

    A friend got stuck on his name last night and stuttered it a bit.


    Sounds like Pac Man.

  17. sidd finch on November 19th, 2008 1:53 pm

    At first, I thought Wakamatsu was Japanese or something. I went ‘wow, that’s pretty cool’. Then I saw his picture.

    I still think it’s pretty cool, the upside of picking someone outside of the old boys network is a lot higher than the same old stuff.

    If the M’s get Peterson, that would be really good for them, although he wasn’t able to fix Victor Zambrano in 15 minutes, like he said.

  18. msb on November 19th, 2008 2:02 pm

    they’ve been playing the Fozzie Bear “wakkawakka” audio drop all morning on KJR.

  19. gwangung on November 19th, 2008 2:06 pm

    I don’t know why people are complaining about his name. It is phonetic.

    They obviously don’t hang out around any Japanese Americans or Japanese…..

  20. msb on November 19th, 2008 2:11 pm

    well, the presser was very encouraging. I assume it’ll be up on the M’s site before long.

  21. PositivePaul on November 19th, 2008 3:49 pm

    egreenlaw9 on November 18th, 2008 5:46 pm

    And… what’s the over/under for how long it takes to assign him some Fozzie bear related nickname?

    Hmm I’ll take the under, since it was done two days ago at LookoutLanding (if not countless other times elsewhere)…

  22. egreenlaw9 on November 19th, 2008 4:57 pm


    I don’t read LL – only enough time in the day for one baseball blog – but that’s awesome!

  23. Zero Gravitas on November 19th, 2008 5:52 pm

    I liked the comment Zduriencik made during the press conference when he said he wanted someone to help create a ‘Mariners way’ to win, or something to that effect. I got the impression they realize they need to change the culture completely and feel empowered to do that. So, optimistic about this process so far.

  24. oar68 on November 19th, 2008 7:46 pm

    Anyone else notice he had #16? So long Willie Bloomquist.

  25. JerBear on November 19th, 2008 9:28 pm

    I just wonder what we’ll call him for short. DonWak? D-Wak? Wacky?

    I propose we all make the easy transition from Johnny Mac to Donny Wak.

  26. Joe C on November 19th, 2008 11:12 pm

    I was thinking the same thing on Willie.

  27. msb on November 20th, 2008 8:08 am

    ahhh … for those still missing Mt. Lou, here is Buck on Wakamatsu:

    “If you see his left eye quivering, he’s about to snap,” Showalter said. “It’s a beautiful thing. When Wak starts to twitch in his left eye, get out of the way.”

  28. msb on November 20th, 2008 11:03 am

    KJR has the link up now to the lengthy interview with Zduriencik this morning where he didn’t immediately embrace bringing back Jr or Raul and talks about not drafting short pitchers

  29. PaulMolitorCocktail on November 20th, 2008 11:48 am

    Wakamatsu-san, ganbatte kudasai!

    (roughly “do your best”/”good luck”)

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