We sent out the bat signal for some questions and the Mariners fans of Twitter responded. Today, we look at a simple question with a complicated answer: who will be the manager when the team is ready to compete?
Most Mariners fans, myself included, believe that current manager Scott Servais will not be the man to lead the franchise to the playoffs in for the first time in two decades. It has been heavily speculated that Servais will ultimately join his good friend Jerry Dipoto in the team’s front office, working in some sort of player development role. But is that actually the case?
Our friend @alexledbetter15 seems to think so and sent us an interesting question via Twitter (@sodomojoFS):
Hard to predict doesn’t even begin to describe it, but we will give it a shot. It helps if we place parameters to what traits we are looking for as a manager before we name candidates. First, we need to assume that when the Mariners make their next trip to the playoffs, be it 2021 or 2024, the team will be filled with mostly young players in the middle of their first contracts. A young squad like this needs stable leadership, a person who can both create a culture and develop young men into professionals.
Preferably, our ideal candidate would have previous experience, although it isn’t required, and can command the respect of a young team looking to win. Somebody with some history of dealing with the media, as tame as the Seattle media is, would also be nice. Do you know who this is starting to sound like? Scott Servais.
Servais has done a nice job in creating a culture, has four years as manager under his belt, has a strong player development background, and is a known commodity for the young team. Where Servais falls short is most things that happen between the first pitch of a game and the last pitch. He is, without a doubt, a below-average game manager, particularly when it comes to bullpen management.
But guys like Joe Torre struggled mightily as a first-time skipper, so perhaps Servais can make those improvements? It doesn’t seem likely but it isn’t impossible. But let’s move off Servais and look at some other names.
Manny Acta makes some sense as an in-house candidate. He is familiar with the organization and players, has previous experience managing young teams, is well respected both inside the locker room and in the baseball world, and as an added bonus, he speaks fluent English and Spanish.
Jared Sandberg is another internal candidate. He was promoted from field coordinator to bench coach this off-season, a big jump that makes him an interesting candidate. He has experience as a manager in the minor leagues and has been a candidate for other jobs around the game.
One other sneaky internal candidate is Carson Vitale, who joined the MLB staff this year, replacing Sandberg as the field coordinator. The 31-year-old is a fast riser in the game and is well-liked by the front office.
From outside of the organization, a name that could make sense, although is probably a non-starter, is A.J. Hinch, who infamously managed the Astros during their sign-stealing scandal. The scandal alone probably makes him a no go, but he does have a winning pedigree, experience with young clubs, and was one of the best in-game managers in the game of baseball before he was fired.
A few more names who could be of interest include former Oakland A’s outfielder Sam Fuld, who is very knowledgable on the analytics of decision making and had a nice big league career to give him credibility.
Another name to watch is Jeff Pickler, the game planning and outfield coach for the Cincinnati Reds. He brings an analytical mind and an ability to talk the language of advanced analytics and old school baseball philosophy.
Chase Utley could be a slightly controversial candidate. A smart player who certainly has instant credibility in any locker room on his resume alone. Other former players who fit the mold include Mike Lowell and Eric Chavez.
But perhaps my personal favorite candidate could be former Seattle Mariners outfielder and World Series Champion, Raul Ibanez. A hot candidate for several managerial positions, Ibanez has turned down interviews in the past. He has served as a special assistant to the GM for the Dodgers and has worked in the media. His name carries plenty of clout in the industry and he is generally viewed as a smart and studious person.
Those are just several names that will likely surface over the next year or two. And at the end of the day, the next manager of the Mariners probably wasn’t discussed in this article. But a big thanks to @alexledbetter15 for the question. Give him a follow!