Why Wak Was Fired

Dave · August 9, 2010 at 1:43 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

As we go forward, people are going to do a lot of speculating about why Don Wakamatsu and his staff were replaced today. In reality, though, it boils down to two very simple things:

1. The team has played terrible baseball and have shown few signs of improvement as the year went on.

2. Ken Griffey Jr became unhappy with Wakamatsu and actively spread his discontent around the clubhouse.

You can talk about bullpen usage, line-ups, or whatever other things you personally didn’t like about Wak, but those things didn’t matter all that much. Every manager has his idiosyncrasies, and as we saw last year, the things that Wak did that might have annoyed you don’t prevent the Mariners from being a winning ballclub. They’re minor issues that had little impact on today’s decision.

The first issue is the big one, obviously. If the team was winning, things would be very different. The frustration that has surfaced has been magnified as the losses pile up, and what should be small problems have turned into big ones as people stew after another loss. However, the second issue is almost certainly the root of why Wak was dismissed.

Pretty much anyone that has access to how the players feel about their former manager will report that it’s not good, and it hasn’t been good since May. When Wak made the (correct) decision that Ken Griffey Jr just shouldn’t play anymore, it caused some serious friction between the guys on the field and the coaching staff. The guys loved Junior, and they’re not rational about his abilities to help the team win. They just saw an icon in the game being shoved out the door. Griffey did absolutely nothing to discourage these feelings, offering no support for Wak or acknowledging the fact that he was no longer cut out to play Major League Baseball. Even after he took his meager bat and went home, he helped fuel the belief that it was Wakamatsu that was to blame for the entire situation.

At that point, most of the club turned on their manager. There was nothing Wak could do to get them back on his side. He was now the guy responsible for running Griffey out of Seattle. And he should have never been put in that position.

Plain and simple – the front office screwed up when they brought Griffey back for 2010. Everyone involved with that decision made a mistake, and they perpetuated that mistake by not having a plan in place to remove Griffey from the roster once it was clear that he could no longer function as a Major League player and would not be happy with a reduced role, as he had publicly claimed. The Mariners were more than willing to make up injuries for Mike Sweeney and Ryan Rowland-Smith when they wanted to get those guys off the roster – they should have been willing to do the same with Griffey at the end of April.

Instead, the organization left it up to Wak to play the bad guy, and the situation poisoned his relationship with the rest of the guys on the team. It devolved into a point where the relationships probably couldn’t be saved, and because the Mariners can’t get rid of the entire roster, Wak is the one to leave.

I’m pretty confident that he’ll get another gig, and be a pretty successful major league manager once he gets that second chance. More likely than not, his next team won’t stick him with a broken down former star who will become disgruntled once he stops getting his name penciled into the line-up. That will help.


153 Responses to “Why Wak Was Fired”

  1. tranebc on August 10th, 2010 4:27 pm

    Wow…tough poll question for M’s fans on the ESPN.com homepage today.

    What’s a tougher coaching job at the moment?
    – Seattle Mariners hitting coach
    – Tiger Woods’ swing coach
    Poll Results

  2. ninjasintheoutfield on August 10th, 2010 6:34 pm

    What an F’ing joke. I’m beyond frustrated with the incompetence of this organization.

    I’m 25 years old, and the emotional investment that I’ve made in this team over the coarse of my life is more than I care to admit. Today however, I’m struggling to find a reason to care….
    The Mariners business model and its corresponding acceptance of outright mediocrity truly offends the 10 year old mariner fan in me.
    I WOULD RATHER RESURRECT THE KINGDOME THAN WATCH ANOTHER SECOND OF THIS EXASPERATING MEDIOCRE BASEBALL in the family friendly atmosphere that Safeco Field has become known for. Here’s an idea… how about a baseball stadium thats known for… I don’t know… WINNING BASEBALL?! What a farce…
    I hate you Seattle Mariners.

  3. cnote on August 10th, 2010 9:04 pm

    I’ve been a long-time reader and typically anything I have to say has already been put out there. In this case, where’s all the talk about who’d be a good fit to replace Wak? Sure Brown is taking over, but he’ll have to have a pretty stellar second half with this mediocre team to stick around. Everyone in this blogosphere can see the M’z still have most of the right pieces so who’s gonna make the pieces fit?

    I remember Cora was interviewed the same time as Wak. A little nostalgic but that won’t end well; I’m not sure learning under Ozzie is a bonus at this point.

    I’ve seen some people toss the idea out there that we need a veteran, but who’s out there that would want this job? Lou ain’t coming back…

    What about a guy like Pete Mackanin–current bench coach for the Phils? Like Z, he was a scout (for the Reds), and when Narron was fired they saw enough in him to put him in interim (managed Griffey, too, just gonna throw that out there). He took the worst team in baseball at that point in the year (31-51) and produced an above .500 record the rest of the year (41-39). Sounds like a turnaround we could use…

    They signed Dusty Baker instead so he went back to scouting, this time for the Yankees–not a bad gig. The last two years he’s been the bench coach for the Phillies and we all know what those years have produced under Charlie (two World Series appearances in case anyone’s wondering). From what I know he’s got a pretty good relationship with everyone (bench coach for the last two All-Star games too–those are good people to know), and he’s supposedly a friend of Z’s. Sounds like a good fit. Thoughts? Anyone else know anything?

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