You know, I would give a lot of money to be able to sit in on a meeting with the Mariners' brass. It's not that I want to be the first to know what free agent is their top priority or anything. While I'd love to see what all their plans are, that's not quite what I'm getting at here.
I would love to know how they arrive at each decision they make when it comes to building the roster and the managerial search. Who calls the shots? Is Jack Zduriencik reading off a post-it note covered in Howard Lincoln's scribbly handwriting, becoming nothing more than an overpaid secretary? Does Chuck Armstrong skype in to meetings with his own spot at the table reserved for an open laptop screen? Maybe each specialist serves a specific role and offers valid analysis, complicating simple trade and scouting proposals with detailed and complex insight that only a professional and experienced baseball employee could offer. Wait, haha, not that one.
I say this because I woke up this morning and saw this:
Sources: #Mariners interviewing #Athletics bench coach Chip Hale for their managerial vacancy today.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 23, 2013
First thought: Whether or not the Lou Pinella thing was actually an idea from whoever, it was laughed off pretty much everywhere, perhaps leading to someone realizing that high profile guys like Donny Baseball and Joe Girardi aren't going to come to a place like Seattle in the condition it's in (which is probably a good thing).
Second thought: Wait, you did this before.
It's not a bad call, though. Hale's name was mentioned on short-lists from journalists after the Wedge firing-quitting-finally-listening-to-his-doctor's-advice thing in September. But it feels a little weird that their first announced interview is the same guy that interviewed for the job in 2008, coming off a disappointing season that saw them lose more games than expected after a rebuild seemed to be on the right page a year before. Where have I heard this...I don't...hmmm...
Nothing against the guy here, though. He's never managed a team in the Major Leagues, but he had success in the minors, earning PCL and AAA titles in 2006 and putting up a .542 winning percentage in Tuscon. Hale seems well-liked, and has been a member of Bob Melvin's crews in both Arizona and Oakland. He also did this thing which made him at least internet famous:
It's just an interview, and the first amongst a list of names that is said to be "two dozen" long. That's crazy. There are that many people without jobs capable of managing a baseball team? But still--it seems interesting to me that the first name out is not a fresh face but instead someone whose blue links in my browser bring up pages with names like Erik Bedard and Yuniesky Betancourt.
On one hand, it could be that Hale wasn't ready in 2008, that he needed a little more time to grow on the other side of the diamond. Or perhaps the thing that kept them from hiring Hale then and going with Wakamatsu is now an accepted part of their thinking, representing (gasp) an ability to adapt one's thinking and process in the face of continued failure. What's that thing they say about insanity?
The Reds knew they needed to fire Dusty Baker, and then they hired a guy who didn't roll his eyes and agitatedly comb his mustache when asked about sabermetrics in a press conference. Why? I don't know, but it probably felt good to Reds fans. Chip Hale seems great, and for all anyone knows, he could be the answer for turning the Mariners' clubhouse into a winning environment. It will be interesting to see how this process develops as more interviews start to take place, and I'm sure we are going to get a lot of names from a lot of different corners of the baseball universe. I would love to actually be able to find out what it is they are looking for here, though. Is Wedge the model? Is there a new mold they are trying to find a fit for?
The good news is that the M's could do a lot worse than Chip Hale, and that's pretty exciting. Also his name. And here's where I won't leave you with an off the old block joke.