Look out for GMs, managers on the move
Several recent developments around the major leagues — and beyond — could have a bearing on the Mariners' general manager and...
Several recent developments around the major leagues — and beyond — could have a bearing on the Mariners' general manager and manager search.
Out of St. Louis came the surprising news that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa might be open to moving into the front office for another team.
In an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, La Russa challenged the Cardinals' management to get "impact" help for next year to help them bridge the gap with the Cubs, Brewers and Astros.
La Russa, 64 next month, was briefly linked last year to a possible Mariners managerial opening, but he signed a two-year contract extension with St. Louis after the season. He said he will not attempt to get out of his Cardinals contract for another managing job.
"If I'm managing next year, I'm managing here," he told the Post-Dispatch.
The Post-Dispatch article continued: "However, La Russa does not discount growing speculation that he could eventually go elsewhere as general manager. A crush of GM jobs is expected to become available shortly after this season, including in Seattle, Toronto and potentially Washington and San Francisco.
"La Russa said any question about a future front-office move was 'not absurd; but right now it's just not pertinent.' "
Someone without any executive experience would be an outside-the-box candidate for the Mariners, but La Russa knows talent and team-building. He has maintained a home in the Bay Area. That's a situation that bears watching.
Don't be surprised if La Russa is also linked to San Diego, where his old boss, Sandy Alderson, is the team president. The Padres already have a GM in Kevin Towers — who has long been considered a potential Mariners candidate.
One more interesting factor: La Russa's longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan — a Mariners coach in 1982 — is a potential free agent after the season when his contract expires.
Also intriguing were the stories out of New York that quoted Yankees boss Hank Steinbrenner saying he planned to absorb power from GM Brian Cashman if he returned. Cashman's contract expires after the season, and he, too, has been mentioned as a Mariners GM candidate.
"Suffice to say, there's not going to be any more, on my part, of trying to keep everybody happy. If I want somebody, I'm going to go after him," Steinbrenner told The Bergen (N.J.) Record.
He added that he envisioned setting up an advisory group to help run the team. Cashman talked him out of pursuing Johan Santana last year, a decision Steinbrenner is thought to regret.
The industry consensus is that such a system won't sit well with Cashman, who fought for more power before signing his last contract. It could well push him onto the free-agent GM market.
And finally, out of Japan comes word that Bobby Valentine may be having troubles with his Japanese team, the Chiba Lotte Marines, with whom he's signed through 2009 (at a reported $4 million). Valentine has an escape clause to pursue a job with a North American major-league team.
According to a story in the Japan Times, Valentine said he was asked to resign earlier in the season by a member of the Marines' front office. But last week Chiba officials said Valentine had misinterpreted something the team president said, and that the president wants him to continue as manager.
With the Marines battling for a playoff spot, the issue is on hold right now. Valentine remains a very popular personality in Japan, but he would also be a dynamic (and expensive) managerial option for the Mariners. It's another situation that bears watching.
• As the battle for the No. 1 draft pick in 2009 hurtles toward its conclusion, the question has arisen about what happens in case of a tie for the worst record. The Mariners, Padres and Nationals are all within 1 ½ games of each after Friday.
And here's the answer: The tiebreaker is the previous year's record. The team with the worst record in '07 gets the higher pick.
That benefits the Nationals, who "win" all ties based on their 73-89 record in 2007. But the Mariners trump San Diego. The Mariners were 88-74, a .543 winning percentage, in 2007, while the Padres were 89-74 (.546).
San Diego, you might recall, finished the regular season at 89-73, tied with Colorado for the wild card, but lost a one-game playoff with the Rockies.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:27 PM
Catcher Gregg Zaun retires after 16 seasons
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.