Press conferences are not my favorite thing. Yeah yeah when Felix signed his contract that was amazing but that's because Felix is Midas and his tears, much like Bing Bong, are magical candies of infinite sweetness. The press conference is a place where official press people can ask questions and take notes while official job people dressed in very official suits can attempt to survive 30-45 minutes without saying anything so openly dumb that even an extremely forgiving and welcoming atmosphere is forced to criticize him/her.
And sure enough that's largely what today's press conference introducing Scott Servais as the new manager of the Seattle Mariners was. Jerry Dipoto spent about 15 minutes introducing him, discussing his shared history with Servais, some perfunctory comments on the hiring process, and then handed the mic over to Servais.
Many professional news outlets that employ full-time reporters who get credentials to attend these kinds of events will write very professional reports on Servais' talking points. However as we were not there here are my bulletpoint takeaways:
- There is a lot and I mean a LOT of talk with the new Mariner front office about communication. There are numerous obvious reasons for this to be a point of emphasis. We all generally assume that Scott Servais' primary reason for being hired was his previous relationship/work experience with Jerry Dipoto. Add in Dipoto's experience in LAA and the reputation of Jack Zduriencik's front office being, urm, cantankerous at times and it's clear that an open dialogue is a huge point of emphasis and major talking point for new leadership.
Of course you can't overemphasize cohesion and everyone holding hands and singing together or else the segment that believes Servais is only a "puppet" of Dipoto will be out with pitchforks. Servias attempted to fend off these hordes (dozens? half a dozen? Bill from Kent?) by pointing out that he and Dipoto "argue all the time". You could barely see Dipoto's lips moving as he said it. KIDDING!
- In one of the actual pieces of quasi-news from today Servais confirmed members of the coaching staff:
Coaching staff-Tim Bogar bench, pitch Mel Stottlemeyer Jr, Edgar hitting coach. Woodward back on staff.— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) October 26, 2015
This, again, goes along with what we've been hearing or assuming but it's always nice to have some things settled. Also I find it impossible to not be happy with having Edgar around. The team hit better after he was hired and he's Edgar so sure.
Dipoto cited Servais' experience "wearing many hats" and I mean you do a quick Google image search and you can see what he means:
Servais echoed many of the talking point from Dipoto's press conference (this is going to be a theme) talking about how the priorities for a team playing 81 games at Safeco Field are athletic, defensively-skilled players. This is of course very correct, and historically the Mariner's best teams in the Safeco era have featured largely excellent defense/outfields. In general I still believe at the end of the day, regardless of where you play, you just want good baseball players more than one specific skillset.
With the coaching staff/front office still theoretically needing to be filled out Bob Dutton had this nice little rumor about a familiar name:
Hearing #Mariners have also talked to Raul Ibanez about a coaching position or possibly filling a role in the front office.— Bob Dutton (@TNT_Mariners) October 26, 2015
Given that Ibanez actually played for the Angels when Dipoto was GM I thought there was a chance he might be a candidate for the manager position. Ol' Raul has long been thought of as the kind of guy who could have a long career in baseball after his playing days ended. If they can find a task he's suitable for I'm all for keeping good/great ex-Mariners around in an official capacity.
Towards the end of his press conference you could see Servais get to the bottom of his notes before awkwardly shuffling into how baseball is like........football? It was an odd transition but it's important to remember that Servais has no real connection or ties to the Northwest. He's probably just trying to make a good impression on the average fan. I imagine his cheat sheet looked something like:
All in all it, like so much of things that have involved the Mariners the past 60 days or so, sure was a press conference. People in suits said things and made promises and smiled and it was all very easy to believe and get excited for. I'll be glad when we get closer to games, or at least press conferences involving people that will play them.