Well the manager hunt is over, and the man emerging from the smoke as the new M’s skipper is the now former Detroit Tigers’ hitting coach Lloyd McClendon.
The 54-year-old Indiana native now has the distinction of being the eighth man to helm the Mariners in the last ten years, and now it’s time analyze whether he has the potential to succeed where the others failed.
Initially this seems like an uninspired hiring, but McClendon does bring some intriguing intangibles to the organization. For starters, this isn’t McClendon’s first head coaching job — he spent five seasons at the helm of the Pittsburg Pirates back in the early 2000s.
The results weren’t pretty; after compiling a record of 336-446, McClendon was fired in 2005 for his underwhelming performance. His record with the Pirates was unsightly, but how much of that was his fault is up for debate.
He coached the Pirates when they were still in the midst of some of the most depressing stretches of baseball in history. During his time in Pittsburgh he wasn’t exactly surrounded with a wealth of talented players, and the organization as a whole wasn’t a model of functionality.
Arguably, in Seattle, he’s been given more to work with than he had in Pittsburgh — and he will potentially (hopefully) be given more this offseason. Yes, the M’s aren’t exactly a model of functionality and success at the moment, but McClendon isn’t getting a cupboard completely bereft of promise.
The M’s have a core of young players who will hopefully continue to improve, an elite one-two punch in the rotation with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma (that could soon be a one-two-three punch with Taijuan Walker), and plenty of money to spend.
McClendon is inheriting a chaotic position, but the 2014 M’s have more to offer a manager than an early 2000s Pittsburgh team had. But despite this, McClendon did fail in Pittsburgh, and this is troubling, but he was in one of the worst settings in baseball at the time, and hopefully that was a major reason for his rocky performance.
His head coaching experience in Pittsburgh aside, the best thing McClendon has going for him, and probably the reason he was hired, is what he’s done since leaving Pittsburgh.
Since 2006, McClendon has served as the hitting coach (and pitching coach for one season) for Detroit during a stretch when the Tigers managed to become one of the best teams in baseball.
Detroit has been a particularly potent offensive squad of late, and McClendon was the man in charge of the bats while they were doing it. This bodes well for the M’s considering the particular brand of offensive awfulness they’ve been cultivating for several seasons.
They’ve gone out and hired a guy who looks like he knows how to score runs, and that’s exactly what the team needs. Granted, while in Detroit, McClendon had the likes of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder under his tutelage, and those guys would make most anyone look good.
But, regardless, McClendon looks like a good guy to help foster a positive offensive attitude in the team, something the M’s have lacked for awhile. Also while in Detroit, McClendon served under Jim Leyland, one of the most well-respected coaches in game until he stepped down this offseason and being around Jim Leyland can’t possibly be a bad thing.
Beyond that, we’re not going to know a lot about McClendon until the season actually starts and we see him in action. McClendon definitely has some question marks around him, but none of the other finalists for the M’s managing job were particularly strong either.
But now the M’s have their man, and only time will tell if he’s the right one.