Mariners, Rainiers swap relievers, coaches
A recent pair of moves have somewhat shaken up the look of the Mariners and Rainiers. On Wednesday, prior to the Mariners’ victory over the Orioles, the Mariners promoted situational lefty Lucas Luetge in place of long reliever and former starter Blake Beavan, who was optioned to Tacoma.
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Thursday brought about another move from the team, but not from a player standpoint. After third base coach Jeff Datz revealed his battle with cancer recently, the Mariners hired John Stearns as an extra coach and interim third base coach while Datz undergoes treatment. After just three games, the team has promoted Tacoma manager Daren Brown to interim third base coach in place of Stearns, who will instead manage the Rainiers.
First off, let’s look at the Luetge-Beavan swap. The move makes sense, especially if the Mariners want Beavan to continue starting games. After Aaron Harang’s quality start and first win Wednesday, the rotation appears pretty set for the next two weeks. Beavan is first and foremost a starter, and so keeping him in the bullpen for long relief didn’t make a lot of sense for his future.
Luetge could give the Mariners a huge boost against lefties in late innings. Unfortunately for him, the Mariners already have two lefties in the bullpen who are currently viewed as more valuable in Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush. When the Mariners needed to get power-hitting lefty Chris Davis out in the eighth inning Wednesday, Furbush came in and crossed him up with breaking balls. Luetge allowed three runs on seven hits in 11 innings during his eight-appearance minor league stint after struggling to start the season with Seattle. He’ll need to show improvement from four runs in four appearances line he put together to warrant any mound time.
The Brown-Sterns switch makes far less sense. Stearns’ most notable work came as a bench coach and third base coach when the Mets were good around 2000. He’s been an average minor league manager before, but not for a while, and was serving as the Mariners’ catching coordinator until his promotion this week.
Daren Brown, however, has a solid history with the Mariners, having managed in the organization since 2001. He has served as the Rainiers manager since 2007, with decent success. He even served as interim manager of the Mariners in 2010 after Don Wakamatsu got the can. Why disrupt the continuity for key players like Mike Zunino and Nick Franklin by forcing a coaching change on them? Only Jack Zdurencik will ever know.