Ah Saturdays in summer. Nice day to relax, enjoy some down time, bask in a good win, nurse a beer hangover, unplug from the internet for a few hahahahahaha no.
#Mariners name Edgar Martinez as new hitting coach. Howard Johnson reassigned.— Bob Dutton (@TNT_Mariners) June 20, 2015
The Mariners official statement:
Statement from #Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik on today's hitting coach change: pic.twitter.com/iPtrLnBZ8w— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) June 20, 2015
So, what do we make of this? Edgar Martinez is easily the greatest hitter the franchise has ever known. His lifetime .312/.418/.515 triple slash is one of those numbers that grows more and more amazing as time creeps on. Jay Jaffe gets it, Edgar could hit. He's a hall of fame player waiting for the intelligensia of the sport to educate itself to the point of appreciating him. He is responsible for the most iconic moment in franchise history by a mile. He seems very polite, etc.
What Edgar is not, or I should say has not been until today, is a coach. He has spent a few years with the ubiquitous "Roving Instructor" role and he makes annual visits to Peoria in Spring. But virtually nothing is known about his ability to pass on wisdom in a useful manner. This is, to be blunt a shot in the dark.
But the state of the team's offense is such that it's hard to be too critical about this. We have pointed out that the Mariners bats have been historically anemic in June and with so many players performing so far below expectations it's not hard to see that poor Howard Johnson was the goat ripe for scaping.
This is reminiscent of the 2013 Kansas City Royals who were a team with expectations that featured a drastically under performing offense and turned to franchise icon George Brett to don the uniform and try to impart what it's like to be super good at hitting. Brett, for what it's worth, stepped down less than two months into the job.
The downside of this? Well from a production standpoint it's really a no risk proposition. The team is unlikely to be much worse offensively than they have been, floorlessness aside, and any improvement going forward is a boon for Jack and the franchise who get to heap praise on one of the organization's favorite sons.
The primary risk here is more medium term. What if the team does continue to struggle? What if Edgar likes this new gig? Does he get fired? The PR backlash and staining of one of the Mariners' precious few monuments to greatness is probably one of the those things that's easy to overstate. However the team has done a tremendous job overall building bridges with the icons of its past. A difficult end to Edgar's tenure as hitting coach has the potential to undue much of that.
At the end of the day firing an assistant coach is almost always about keeping up appearances. Team's that play as poorly as the Mariners have played don't go the whole season without leadership changes. But tonight I'm going to turn on the TV and Edgar, EDGAR is going to be sitting in the dugout, wearing the uniform and making me feel feelings. It's a fascinating, out of the box kind of move. We'll see if it pays off or if, like so many things this year, it blows up in their face.