When Jerry Dipoto went out of his way to praise Lloyd McClendon at his introductory press conference he was effusive in his "respect" for McClendon and repeatedly used that half-compliment so common in the game: "Great baseball man". More and more the use of that phrase seems to be a kiss of death akin to the dreaded "vote of confidence" from ownership.
Dipoto is fresh off a job in Los Angeles of Anaheim that saw him struggle severely implementing his research and tactical analysis with the coaching staff; as such we've speculated that he would want to bring in a manager of his choosing, one he was comfortable communicating with. This is the situation where there really may not be anyone at fault, and a change was simply necessary for the smooth operation of the franchise.
Now, as we suspected, the Mariners have made it all but official:
Sources: Manager Lloyd McClendon won't return as Mariners' manager in 2016 http://t.co/XLgISLQ5iR pic.twitter.com/5u2bsOBraA— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) October 9, 2015
McClendon was hired at a low moment in Mariners history, which yes those are quite common good joke, you. Inheriting a 71-91 team fresh off having Eric Wedge decline a contract extension, pack up, and scorch the earth on his way out McClendon, like (and very unlike) Don Wakamatsu before him managed to surprise everyone his first year. The 2014 Mariners went 87-75, finished a game out of the playoffs, and McClendon seemed popular with his players as well as the fans. We even grew to love him, despite the fact he was very obviously an "old school" manager. LLoyd McClendon some called him.
I still don't feel that I understand the impact of managers very well. Their value almost certainly exists. On the spectrum of ability you can see the gains of the very best (Joe Madden) and the losses of the very worst (Matt Williams). But almost all managers exist within the unknowable haze between those two outliers. Lloyd McClendon was never as good as 2014's bullpen made him look, but I very much doubt he was as bad as 2015's bullpen made him look either.
These things, like so much of life, end up being about timing and relationship. Jerry Dipoto wants his own guy; Tim Bogar, Bud Black, Scott Servais, or someone else. Regardless of his pros and cons as a major league manager Lloyd McClendon largely lost his job because he didn't know the right people. That's kind of sad, at least to me.
McClendon finishes his Mariner managerial career with a record of 163-161, the only Seattle manager other than Lou Piniella to have a record over .500. What a fickle, weird job being a baseball manager can be. He joins Bob Melvin, Mike Hargrove, John McClaren, Jim Riggleman, Don Wakamatsu, Daren Brown, and Wedge as Mariner managers hired and fired without the team making the playoffs. Let's get the right this guy, Jerry. Enough of this.
We'll update with official statements, rumored replacements and analysis as the story develops.
Goodbye Lloyd. I don't think you were a great manager, but I liked you anyway.
Mariners confirm the McClendon news— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) October 9, 2015
Statement from Jerry Dipoto:
Statement from Dipoto on McClendon: pic.twitter.com/iyLW84wi6K— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) October 9, 2015
News on who stays and who goes:
#Mariners say hitting coach Edgar Martinez and infield coach Chris Woodward returning to big-league staff.— Bob Dutton (@TNT_Mariners) October 9, 2015
#Mariners say bench coach Trent Jewett, 3B coach Rich Donnelly, OF coach Andy Van Slyke and bullpen coach Mike Rojas not returning.— Bob Dutton (@TNT_Mariners) October 9, 2015