[Taylor's Note: R.J. Anderson, Tampa Bay Rays enthusiast and one of the blogosphere's best authors, kindly accepted my request to write a second guest article, since we liked his first one (about the inimitable Ryan Langerhans) so much. And to Griffin, who I forgot to mention this to, surprise! Here's R.J.]
The overlords of this fine institution asked me to contribute a piece. What topic, asked I. Two moves (one big and small) that if I had my druthers, the Mariners would make this offseason. Anyone who knows me realizes I love to cop out, therefore, I’m instituting a strict budget on my offseason fantasy; i.e., the Mariners cannot out cop every other team. Vanish your dreams of Carl Crawford, Victor Martinez, and Adam Dunn puffing cigars while soft strings are plucked in the background and a fog machine simulates a heavenly scene. That will not be happening in reality nor in my form of reality.
In exchange for being a curmudgeon, I’ve lengthened the wish list. The first bit is about the Mariners’ new manager. Now, this is a big move, just not in the sense that a manager makes or breaks a team. My original suggestion was Gabe Kapler, but two problems. 1) He stills plays – sort of and 2) the Mariners probably aren’t too gung-ho about hiring such a green manager again. Instead, I will offer Dave Martinez. Say what? Yes. Dave Martinez.
I’m a bit of a homer in this regard, but frankly as little as I know about Martinez’s responsibilities and abilities, I know even less about the other bench coaches in the league. What I do know, though, makes me think someone will give Martinez a managing shot before long. Many outside of the area do not care or know that Martinez is actually Joe Maddon’s second bench coach. He took over before the 2008 season started, but worked with the Rays as an instructor before that.
In 2006 and 2007, Bill Evers served as bench coach. Evers, for all intent and purposes, was the organization’s most successful coach with the longest tenure. He’d taken various minor league teams across a number of levels to their respective playoffs. His son at one point pitched in the organization. And so on. Heck, he worked for the Rays in 2009 too, but he was removed of his bench coach duties after the 2007 season.
Maddon claimed it was a communication issue, nothing more. Those who dislike Maddon (and many do and did then too) claimed Maddon was paranoid about losing his job to the right man, (i.e. Evers). When Martinez got the gig, the quotes from Maddon were about how he wanted someone who would give and take opinions. One of Maddon’s favorite sayings in the clubhouse is that he wants players (and coaches) to tell him what they think, not what they know. Now, one has to guess that Martinez is open with his thoughts but also listens. That last part is vital because Maddon is an excellent manager and one can learn a lot about the game through him.
Martinez is not too far removed from the game and seems to have good relationships with the players. That part of managing cost Don Wakamatsu his job. It might have saved Joe Maddon his after two consecutive seasons with the worst record in baseball. Martinez is not guaranteed success, but I’d trust him before some of the retreads or loose connections based on playing careers.
As for the roster moves:
1) Sign Eric Hinske if contention is the plan. I have too many reasons for this, but here’s a short list:
- A) His nickname is “Ske”.
- B) He tells young players to never pass on the chance to make their first million (i.e., Evan Longoria) which means, say hello to your locker buddy, Dustin Ackley.
- C) He has a ton of tattoos. This isn’t all that appealing but go figure the guy who glamorizes inking contracts like to ink himself too.
- D) He is good at hitting baseballs and usefully versatile.
2/3) Sign Gregg Zaun and Jeremy Bonderman if contention is the plan. Men without faith have no use for holy books and men without starting catchers or pitchers alike have little use for depth. The good news is that neither Zaun or Bonderman are depth in the sense that they belong in the minors. Zaun is older and coming off an injury-shortened season, but still seems like a better bet than Rob Johnson.
4) Sign Arthur Rhodes. Because the Mariners can’t play good baseball without a historical figure or something.
So, there’s four small moves and one big. Nothing too sexy. Nothing too risqué. Sort of bland. Dead fishlike and for that my apologies.
[Thanks again to R.J., and we wish his Tampa Bay Rays the best in October.]