I was going to buy a Lloyd McClendon jersey. That was a thing that was going to happen. In a way, it actually did. When the Mariners' new uniforms came out, I bought a blank replica one, and, because the team store was running some sale, I paid for the custom lettering even though it hadn't come in yet.
They put the $30 or whatever for the stitching on a Mariners Team Store gift card and, 86 losses later, it's still in my wallet—nestled between an old ferry ticket and an expired gym membership.
So you'd assume that Lloyd's dismissal would be disappointing, and really, it is. Not necessarily because I think he's the right person going forward, but because it's a bummer, and one that accurately reflects 2015. It just, well, is what it is. You can't get worked up, because these things happen.
And there's the other part where it was probably the right move, even if it is still a bummer.
Baseball's a game that now, more than ever, is played in the margins. Teams have their superstars, but everyone, as Dipoto is clearly doing now, is also chasing depth. And if you, as a front office, acquire someone because he does one very particular thing that works well, or you think you can get him do one particular thing that will make him do well going forward, you can't have the coaching staff undo that.
And Jerry Dipoto's already been there. After acquiring Ernesto Frieri and his great fastball that he threw a ton, Mike Scoscia had the righty randomly start throwing more sliders. It didn't work well.
Similarly, it isn't a great reflection that J.A. Happ went over to Pittsburgh and started pumping more fastballs, albeit better ones, and ended up being the best trade deadline acquisition this side of Yoenis Cespedes.
So when Dipoto said of McClendon that "our baseball philosophies were not closely aligned," that's all I needed to hear. A move was made, and now Dipoto will find his own guy, one with whom his baseball philosophies are closely aligned.
Even without all the rumors, and the backstory, you can see why Bogar is the presumptive favorite—so much so that Larry Stone already dove in with a column. Not only did he play with Dipoto, and eventually serve as a special assistant to the GM when Dipoto was that GM, but there's also stuff like the following—from when they weren't even working together.
Dipoto, just a week or two ago at a Q&A for Mariners season ticket holders, on practice and player development:
We’re going to challenge them, we’re going to send them to winter ball, we’re going to develop them everyday. I am a big fan of touches. Our kids will get on the field, they will work smart, they will touch the ball a lot. Our infielders are not going to stand there, they’re going to move, they’re going to touch the ball.
Bogar, in 2012, on running Spring Training for the Red Sox:
"I think what's going to jump out to them is all the skill work and the detail work that is being worked on constantly on all six fields down here. You're going to have your live BP, but you're also going to have guys working on pickoff plays, baserunning, reading balls off the bat, you're going to have guys standing in tracking pitches and doing all kind of things. You're not going to see the normal stand around the cage, watch batting practice and stand in the outfield and shag. Instead of shagging, players are going to be doing baseball activity which will benefit them in the long run."
So yes, this could happen. Some would call it likely. But who is this guy anyway? Here's a walkthrough.
A former player
Bogar played in the Major Leagues for parts of nine seasons, serving as a utility man for the Mets, Astros and Dodgers. His best year was a 2.3-win season in 1997, but in a third of his seasons he played at a below replacement level. He still amassed more value over the course of his career than Willie Bloomquist.
Drawing on the aforementioned Larry Stone column, Bogar said when he played that "I’m the type of guy that’s never noticed, but I’m needed" and that "My mind always took me farther than my athletic ability."
This part doesn't matter a lot. Being an obscure nineties baseball player is kind of a requisite for managing nowadays.
Minor league manager
This starts to matter a bit, and Bogar was very good at it.
As his Wikipedia page notes, he managed in three separate minor league systems, starting with the Astros in 2004, moving to the Indians in 2006 and then, after four years in the major leagues starting in 2008, with the Angels.
Of those first four years in the minors, Bogar won a manager of the year award in half of them, first in 2004 with the Greeneville Astros of the Rookie-level Appalachian League, guiding them to a 41–26 record and the league title. Then, in 2006 with the Indians Double-A affiliate, the Akron Aeros, he won the Eastern League manager of the year award and was also named ‘best manager prospect’ for the league by Baseball America.
Do these things really matter? We don’t know. Ryne Sandberg was a great minor league manager and that didn’t help him land the Cubs job, or do anything in Philadelphia—though he wasn’t quite set up to succeed there. In the end, it’s better to be good than bad, and in the minor leagues, Tim Bogar was good.
Quality assurance coach, Tampa Bay Rays
If you’re looking at this through the lens of what it means for his managerial prospects now, Bogar couldn’t have had a better indoctrination to coaching at the major league level than through his role under Joe Maddon.
Here’s what Maddon had to say when he hired Bogar in 2008, the first year the Rays were any good, winning 97 games and the American League pennant:
"I know this is a radical approach to baseball," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But so was the bench coach when that came along, so was the DH, so was color television at some point. With all the information that's available to us and all the different things that the coaches have to do on a daily basis, I want the coaches to be able to really be able to get involved with the players as much as possible."
"We're trying to get somebody to try to get ahead of our own mistakes," Maddon said.
As part of his job, Bogar did much of the legwork for setting the Rays', at the time, new-fangled shifts.
Here's what one of the Rays players, rookie backup catcher Shawn Riggans, had to say about Bogar in an extensive profile:
"I talk to Bogey as much as I talk to anybody," Riggans said. "He's got another angle. He sees things. He was a utility player. He has a good mind for the game. Approachable. He talks to you on a level that you understand.
He simplifies things, because out here you can make things harder than they are. Then you're lost.
"He makes you feel comfortable and confident. "It's just a little thing here and there. Food for thought for your mind. It's not an overload of information, which is good."
It becomes somewhat easy to see why he wasn't long for that role.
Base coach and bench coach, Boston Red Sox
After just one season with the Rays, Bogar was hired to be a base coach, first base then eventually third, on Terry Francona's staff in Boston.
At the time of the hiring, Francona said:
"I already sent him some e-mails this morning," Francona said. "It's not rocket science. Baseball getting played correctly is what we're trying to do. We'll get some of his opinions, too. He'll be in charge of the infield play, and in charge of how we align ourselves in the infield defensively, infield drills in Spring Training. We don't have to [go over all of] that tonight. There will be a lot of give and take over the next few months."
It was...an interesting tenure for Bogar there in Boston. That first year, he got into a bit of a spat with Joe Girardi because Girardi thought he was tipping signs. He also developed a bit of a reputation, once he moved over to coach third base in 2010, of being a bit too aggressive with waving people home.
When Francona was eventually fired after 2011's collapse, Bogar stayed on to serve as bench coach under Bobby Valentine. That, of course, was short-lived. Valentine was fired after a single season and, on his way out, said he was undermined by his coaches. Bogar fired back:
"I did my best, along with all the other coaches, to keep everyone on track," Bogar said. "Some things are public, some will stay private, but no one will truly understand what had to be handled behind those clubhouse doors. Being professional in these matters is the only way to go about it."[...]
"You don't know how many times these guys would come and talk to me about stuff," Bogar said. "The last couple of times I've read stuff about that there was no communication or the communication was bad -- the only bad communication was between Bobby and everyone. The rest of the communication was great. I talked to the players daily about stuff. We talked about everything. The coaches talked about everything."
So, being part of that disaster isn't necessarily the best look, but having the trust of that club wasn't so bad.
Bogar would head back to the minors, managing in the Angels' minor league system in 2013 for a year, before returning to the bigs.
Bench coach and interim manager, Texas Rangers
Way, way back, in 1991 and 1992, Ron Washington was one of Bogar's coaches in triple-A Tidewater. They'd reunite in Arlington with Wash naming Bogar his bench coach for the 2014 season. When they first got started, here's what Bogar had to say:
"I don’t want anybody to think I’m this overly smart guy," Bogar said. "There has to be cohesiveness between baseball and statistics. Players are human, they’re not robots, and you can’t just assume that they’re going to perform exactly the same every day.
"What you try to do is take that [statistical] side of it and their human ability, and you put it together to put them in the best position possible."
And Washington's take:
"Yeah, there's things I miss," Washington said. "I can't see everything. There might be some managers that don't (miss things), but Ron Washington do." The key for Bogar as the bench coach, then? "Seeing the things that I don't see," Washington said. "He's not afraid to tell me what's going on, what he's seeing. Not afraid to keep me aware of things that I might be missing. Not afraid to give me suggestions. I've already got that straight with Bogie. ... He's sharp, man. He's on it. He's on top of it, and he's in my ear all the time."
As most know, that 2014 campaign was a bit of a doomed season—one in which Washington ended up abruptly resigning. Bogar took over as interim manager midway through September and led the Rangers to a 14-8 record. Just September, but not too bad.
He was considered for the full-time gig, possibly even the favorite, but that ended up going to Jeff Bannister out of Pittsburgh. Bogar thought he'd get the job.
In a weird thing that I just saw doing the research for this, Bogar had the opportunity to join the Houston Astros staff under Bo Porter—which, if that organization is going after him, says something—but they wanted it written into his contract that, while bench coach, he could not pursue other managerial opportunities.
Special assistant to the general manager, Los Angeles Angels
After that brief stint in 2013 where Bogar managed the Angels' Double-A club, he and Dipoto were reunited.
Really, there's not much to say here. Dipoto didn't really comment on the move but it's safe to assume that, if he hired him for this type of role, there's a level of respect here.
So, that's Tim Bogar. There's a lot here that says he might be pretty good at this. But we also have no idea what it takes to be good at this.
Would I be happy if he were hired by Dipoto to be the Mariners' next manager? Yeah, probably. But again, we don't know. We don't know until he does it, and does it for this particular team.