(To hell with the whole Erik Bedard Is Really Good thing. This trade is dragging on too long for my attempts at good-natured humor.)
John McLaren on Wilkerson, or Wilky, as the Mariner broadcast team hopes he likes to be called:
What we've learned about Wilkerson:
-he's a dude
-he's trusting enough to be on a first-name basis with people he probably hasn't met yet
-he likely has a nose - unless McLaren is being ironic - and said nose seems to have an above-average ratio of cartilage to fatty tissue
-he competes, presumably in Major League Baseball, although this isn't stated
-away from the field, he has nothing to offer to anyone
-he is left-handed, the potential uses of which are too numerous to list
-the number of positions he's played is higher than McLaren can count (Ed. note: Wilkerson has played four positions)
McLaren's quote seems simple on the surface, but when you really dig into it and read the meaning instead of the words, you're left with an overwhelming amount of physical and personal insight. I suppose Wilkerson's gender, facial features, and left-handedness are easily confirmed by pictures (although I don't want to think about how the first one was determined), but the rest? Incredibly perceptive and thought-provoking. That Wilkerson's so quick to go by his given name speaks to a desperate need for companionship; he probably has trouble getting along with other people, and just wants someone to talk to. And this could be closely related to point #5, because if you're leaving your personality and understanding of the rhythms of social interaction on the field, it can be difficult to build stable relationships. With that in mind, it probably isn't a coincidence that this will be his third team in four years - he has trouble fitting in, and in a sport whose seasons are so long that clubhouses become like tightly-knit families out of necessity, having an outsider like Wilkerson can be a distraction.
This is why John McLaren is the manager. His ability to read deeply into even an unfamiliar player's character is unparalleled within the organization, and the way he's able to so neatly sum up his perceptions in two simple sentences is nothing short of astonishing. We may always try to throw a bunch of numbers at him when he makes a disagreeable in-game decision, but if he's equipped with such demonstrable perspicacity that he knows at any given moment who's well-prepared and who doesn't have sufficient positive chi, then who are we to second-guess? He's the one who's brilliant. Just look at point #7 above. By openly admitting to an inability to count to four, McLaren makes a seamless transition from shining the light on the new guy to poking fun at himself, and there's no quicker way to make someone as timid and uneasy as Wilkerson comfortable than self-deprecation.
Given Wilkerson's apparent personal issues which have only today been brought to our attention, he's not going to be an easy fit into a clubhouse that so highly values its chemistry. Knowing that this challenge lies ahead, though, there's no one I'd rather have overseeing the process than John McLaren, who - based on today's quote - seems suitably sagacious to know exactly which buttons to press at exactly the right time. Such intuitiveness is rarely seen in today's world, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that, in my view, it not only makes him the greatest manager this team has ever had; nay, it makes him a hero.