In the lead-up to the Mariners' managerial search, wide assumptions were made that the M's would take a look at some non-traditional in-house managerial candidates—individuals with deep ties to the organization. Well, news comes down today that we have our first: former M's catcher Dave Valle.
Valle, who most recently is associated with the organization through various media appearances as an occasional TV and radio guy, played ten years with the Mariners from 1984-1993, batting .235 over that time. Though, the Sports Illustrated report on the Valle interview notes he gained "a reputation as an excellent defensive catcher with strong leadership skills."
That Sports Illustrated report draws strong comparisons between Valle and St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, in that neither of them had any managerial experience before being interviewed and they share a similar temperament. Matheny, of course, was given a built-in title contender. Valle, assumedly, wouldn't be so fortunate.
It's an interesting choice, but as has been noted by many outlets—and Jon Heyman in particular—the Maririners' list of managerial candidates supposedly contains upwards of 20 names. The M's are leaving no stone unturned but, what's interesting, is that of all the candidates they've interviewed thus far, only Detroit's Lloyd McClendon has any previous major league managerial experience.
As ThundaPC noted in a comment on a recent post discussing the dismissal of Eric Wedge, it's very possible Zduriencik always preferred a fresh new manager and, after firing Wedge, is going back to his ways.
...the Mariners have actually done this before. 2008 candidates: Brad Mills, Joey Cora, Chipe Hale, DeMarlo Hale, Jose Oquendo, Randy Ready, and their eventual choice Don Wakamatsu. Experienced guys "nowhere to be found" on that list.
My theory on this is that Jack Zduriencik may have simply soured on having experienced managers around. He doesn’t get unlimited hiring chances so he may have tried to work with Eric Wedge for as much as possible. Zduriencik even seemingly tried getting Wedge to change some things. I imagine trying to get a new inexperienced major league manager on board with the GM’s direction is a whole lot easier than trying to force an experienced guy like Wedge to make changes. There’s no point to bringing in someone like Dusty Baker only to try and "teach an old dog, new tricks.
Again, the interview does seem a bit curious. But, as Jason Churchill pointed out at Prospect Insider recently, it's very possible the Mariners have already interviewed their preferred choice and are now moving onto others.
And, also, another obligatory note: for anyone ready to freak out about the Mariners pulling a name out of their past, just remember that everyone associated with the Mariners at one point or another can't be dismissed off-hand. There are probably some qualities about Valle as a manager that are not-so-good, and there are probably some that'd make him a fit—but his time with the M's shouldn't be held up as a reason he wouldn't work as the organization's next skipper.
Lastly, as we see our very first interview with a member of the Mariners' past, it will be very interesting to see who's up next. It would be very peculiar if Dave Valle were the only one interviewed. Will we see someone like Dan Wilson soon? Mike Blowers? I wouldn't be surprised.