New skipper, a Cy Young finalist and Hutch winner
Yeah, you could say it was a bit of a crazy day for the Mariners on Tuesday. Within the span of about an hour, a quiet offseason afternoon was shattered by word leaking that Lloyd McClendon was going to be the new manager, Hisashi Iwakuma was one of three finalists for the AL Cy Young Award. And, oh yeah, Raul Ibanez had won the prestigious national Fred Hutch Award.
Obviously the McClendon story trumped everything and it was a bit awkward how it played out, since the Puget Sound Business Journal tweeted the initial scoop before the Mariners even had a chance to notify McClendon or the four other finalists who didn’t get the job.
The Mariners made it official not too much later and will hold a press conference Thursday to introduce McClendon to the media at Safeco Field.
It’s an interesting hire, with Jack Zduriencik opting for a guy with a losing record while managing some bad Pirates teams from 2001-05. But McClendon was well-regarded for his work the past eight years in Detroit on Jim Leyland’s staff and in hindsight, his record with the Pirates was better than those who followed during a 20-year run of losing seasons in Pittsburgh.
Known for his temper and emotions with the Pirates (as he’s shown arguing with an umpire during his early days above), he kept things firmly in check in Detroit. Of course, being hitting coach is different than the managerial hot seat. But people can learn. And he had a chance to learn from one of the best in Leyland and will now get a chance to show his own stuff in Seattle with a club eager to take the next step with a young nucleus.
Rest assured, McClendon will bring some fire to the job. He’s included in this ESPN Top 10 meltdowns video for his 2001 eruption when he “stole” first base after a disputed call. It’s No. 6 on the list and you get a bonus Lou Piniella view just for the effort.
Now 12 years older (and wiser?) at 54, McClendon has preferred not to talk about that incident much when asked during his Tigers’ time when Detroit has returned to Pittsburgh. But he worked well with Tigers players, spending a lot of time helping with video and scouting reports and game-planning how to attack pitchers. He had some top-notch hitters in Detroit, of course, and that crew reached two World Series and four ALCS.
The Mariners certainly could use a better offensive approach and it’ll be interesting to see how McClendon works with their young nucleus and who he brings in for a coaching staff. Those are questions that can now begin getting answers.
Also for your reading pleasure, here’s an interesting piece that MLB.com columnist Tracy Ringolsby did on McClendon last August, with the focus on his “Legendary Lloyd” efforts as a Little League World Series hero from Gary, Ind., while growing up as one of 13 kids in his family.
Ringolsby also checked in today with his view on this hire by the Mariners. You can read his take here.