Well, this is not a surprise, but now it’s official.
Once Jerry Dipoto was signed by the team, it was clear—and Jerry immediately reiterated—that bringing Scott back would be the next priority. Scott Servais is not Nelson Cruz, so this won’t quite send paroxysms of glee through the fanbase, but he seems to be quite popular in the clubhouse. We can’t quantify it on fangraphs, but he’s kept a calm ship sailing; while Mike Scioscia was ripping down nerf hoops, Servais was making Tony Zych snag a pool table while Robinson Cano picked up the tab, and making bets with Edwin Diaz that should result in one of the odder haircuts you’ve ever seen on a 50-year-old.
Since Scott is clearly on board with Dipoto’s progressive statistical vision, I have been willing to cut him slack on some of his in-game decisions generally; that said, the bullpen management has been headscratching at times. I do think it’s improved—probably in large part thanks to the excellent staff he’s hired, especially Manny Acta, who Servais specifically credits with helping him learn to manage himself during MLB games. Overall, I think it has a fairly minimal effect on the team’s W-L record, and it seems to be something that every team—yes, including the Astros and Cubs—doesn’t prioritize quite as much as someone who can manage the many hypercompetitive personalities on every 25-man roster. Ask a Rays fan about Joe Maddon’s bullpen management some time.
Servais is very much a player’s manager, and that extends to players not on the major league roster. His outfitting the team in 4MOM shirts and asking for donations was a kindhearted move that meant the world to Braden Bishop. It would be easy to pay no special attention and treat things with Bishop as any other prospect, but making the effort says a lot about the type of person he is, and goes a long way to explain the respect he seems to enjoy from every Mariner. If not every umpire.
Going forward, Servais has already given hints at his preferred managerial style; having established a solid clubhouse dynamic, he has stepped back and let the wound clock do its work. The amusingly staid and buttoned-down Servais built a clubhouse where his more boisterous players—especially the latino triumvirate of Cano, Cruz, and Segura—can create a balanced dynamic where new players are embraced instead of being required to prove themselves. Working for an organization that also employs Andy McKay in a key role, it’s pretty evident that a key to Servais’ leadership style is helping players succeed by making them comfortable in their environment. Now he gets to be comfortable in his environment for a few more years.