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The Miracle Of Continuity

I'm still not at the point yet where I can spend as much time thinking about the Mariners as I want to*, what with the playoffs keeping me busy and all. I wake up with the best of intentions every morning, but then within half an hour or so I'm distracted by whatever the day's storyline happens to be, whether that's Ryan Howard injuring himself on the final play of what was a more sensible contract than his upcoming contract, or the Tigers insisting that Delmon Young is so valuable that he needs to play through an injured oblique, or what have you. I don't think I'll get to focus on the Mariners until this whole stupid tournament is over.

* zero minutes! hahahaaaaaaaa

But I still get little windows every now and then, little bits of time during which I can browse whatever the new Mariners news is (there is none), or surf through their Baseball-Reference data. At last, we have end-of-season data that isn't going to look different a day or a week later, so I can finally put Miguel Olivo's .253 OBP in its proper context. Miguel Olivo led the 2011 Mariners in home runs! He also led them in RBI! He made outs 75% of the time he came to the plate! That's amazing!

During this morning's window, I got to thinking about the coaching staff. Specifically, it began with Chris Chambliss. Chris Chambliss was the Mariners' batting coach this season. All season. Maybe you forgot about him, because honestly who cares about batting coaches? And since when are they called batting coaches, instead of hitting coaches? "Batting coach" yields 358,000 results on Google. "Hitting coach" yields 1,030,000 results on Google. Either the people have decided that "hitting coach" is the proper term, or there are a lot of articles and blog posts that have been written about coaches getting attacked.

But the key thing about Chambliss is the "all season" part. Chambliss stuck around. And then I realized that all the coaches stuck around. Here's the table:

Position March October
Manager Eric Wedge Eric Wedge
Batting Coach Chris Chambliss Chris Chambliss
Pitching Coach Carl Willis Carl Willis
1B Coach Mike Brumley Mike Brumley
3B Coach Jeff Datz Jeff Datz
Bench Coach Robby Thompson Robby Thompson
Bullpen Coach Jaime Navarro Jaime Navarro
Bullpen Catcher Jason Phillips Jason Phillips

Last November, as Eric Wedge filled out his coaching staff, I wrote a post entitled Meet The New Future Scapegoats. During the 2011 season, the Mariners finished 67-95, losing 17 games in a row at one point and winding up with the third-worst record in baseball, and there weren't any scapegoats. No one from the coaching staff got let go. The revolving door at the batting coach position...stopped...revolving...which I guess means the revolving door is broken? Does this mean Chris Chambliss is trapped inside? Somebody, fix that door!

I'm not trying to argue that there should have been a scapegoat or two. I don't think anybody on the coaching staff did poorly enough to warrant losing his job. There was so much roster turnover, and there were so many rookies, that what could anyone expect the coaching staff to do? The coaches did well enough to keep this team at .500 beyond the midpoint of the season. The 67-95 record wasn't their fault.

I'm just kind of surprised that there *wasn't* a scapegoat. I've come to expect that there will be scapegoats. (Ed. note: reached the point where "scapegoat" no longer sounds like a word.) The Padres fired their batting coach. The Braves fired their batting coach. The Royals fired a couple coaches. The Mets dropped a handful of coaches. The Mariners kept all their coaches, even after losing 95 games and scoring the fewest runs in the league.

I don't know what this means. One interpretation is that the front office is quite fond of Eric Wedge and the coaching staff he's assembled, and has confidence that this is the coaching staff that can help lead the team to better days. Another interpretation is that the front office didn't think it would be right to can any coaches when the roster was seemingly changing by the day. Maybe it's both, or somewhere in between.

It's just kind of interesting is all, and now the returning young players will have some continuity in the coaching ranks, which seems like more of a good thing than a bad thing. The same coaches teach the same lessons, and the coaches and the players can develop a stronger bond. And for our benefit, it's good that the Mariners have hung on to Jeff Datz, because Jeff Datz is a nearsighted pear. I don't think we explored Jeff Datz to his fullest potential this past season, and now we'll get another shot.

So much about the Mariners is going to look different next spring from how it looked last spring. And then, so much will not. Interesting. Kind of.