Wedge says contract not the reason he’s leaving
A day after announcing he wouldn’t be returning to the Mariners next season, manager Eric Wedge had one clear message for the media in his pregame chat prior to facing the A’s on Saturday afternoon.
Initial reports spoke largely to the fact Wedge had not been offered a long-term contract and wasn’t willing to take a one-year extension to stay in Seattle, but the third-year skipper said there was far more to it.
The primary issue, he said, was a different vision from team CEO Howard Lincoln, president Chuck Armstrong and general manager Jack Zduriencik.
“Let me be clear here,” Wedge said. “The contract is not the reason I’m not coming back here. If they offered me a five-year contract, I’m not coming back here. So let’s be clear with that. Where they see the club – they being Howard, Chuck and Jack – and where I see the club and my vision of the future is just different. That’s as plain as I can make it.”
Wedge declined to get into specific differences, saying they ran the “gamut.” But he referred several times to the youthful rebuilding process the club underwent again this year. Three rookie position players – shortstop Brad Miller, second baseman Nick Franklin and catcher Mike Zunino – were brought up in midseason and the pitching staff leaned heavily on youth as well.
“It’s just about sticking with the kids that you believe in, adding to it and being patient,” he said. “Sticking with the program. And having consistency. You have to have consistency with personnel. Every time you turn over, you start over again to a certain extent.”
Wedge noted this year’s roster is heavy on older veteran players and very young players, but lacking the inbetween group that usually is the core of most good clubs and mid-career veterans on longer-term deals who are vested in the team’s future.
“Kendrys [Morales] was good, Raul [Ibanez] was good. One-year deals,” Wedge said. “[Michael] Morse and [Franklin] Gutierrez didn’t work out. Then you had [Jesus] Montero and [Brendan] Ryan didn’t work out. [Dustin] Ackley we had to adjust and have him go back down and figure it out and go to the outfield and that’s worked out well for him.
“Starting pitching will be a big part of these guys moving forward. But where we were in Spring Training and where we were very shortly after that were two different things. We went right back to rebuild mode and started bringing up all these kids. You just can’t get around it. I still feel like before I got sick, they were just starting to get their mojo going a little there. But that was it.”
What do the Mariners need to take that next step?
“It’s a combination of the kids continuing to get better and ultimately getting it, getting over that hump and becoming the big leaguers you want them to be.” Wedge said. “But you also have to get some guys in here. You have to get somebody you can count on in the middle of your lineup, another one you can count on in the middle of your rotation and a guy in the bullpen, too. Easier said than done, with the free-agent market and everybody is trying to make trades. But that’s up to them.”
The Mariners are 70-90 going into Saturday’s game and 212-272 in his three years since taking over a team that went 61-101 in 2010. Wedge said upon arrival he was in it for the long haul and understood what it was going to take to turn things around.
Asked if he was the fall guy now for the losing record, Wedge said that’ s part of the job of Major League manager.
“That comes with the territory,” he said. “But I know what’s happened here and that’s enough for me. I had a vision coming in here. I came here for certain reasons and I’m leaving here for certain reasons.”