Mariners will hire Eric Wedge as manager
Former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge will be the Mariners' new manager.
Seattle Times staff reporter
When the Cleveland Indians introduced Eric Wedge as their new manager in October 2002, he was 34 years old — younger not only than every other skipper in baseball, and any Indians manager since Lou Boudreau in 1942, but also three of his players.
In his second managerial stint eight years later, the Mariners hope to reap the benefits of a wiser and more seasoned version of Wedge, who will turn 43 in January.
The Mariners settled on Wedge to be their new manager Friday in a whirlwind day that began with the news that perceived front-runner Bobby Valentine had been told he was out of the running. Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik called Valentine in the morning to tell the former Mets and Rangers manager they were going in a different direction.
That was one of several such calls by Zduriencik. Sources confirmed that Wedge, the American League's Manager of the Year in 2007, is the Mariners' choice to be the full-time replacement for the fired Don Wakamatsu.
Daren Brown finished the season as interim manger after Wakamatsu was fired Aug. 9. Seattle ended up buried in last place in the AL West at 61-101, 34 games behind first-place Texas.
The club is withholding official announcement on their new manager because MLB doesn't allow major news revealed during the postseason without the permission of commissioner Bud Selig.
In a brief phone call with The Seattle Times on Friday afternoon, Zduriencik declined any comment on the managerial search.
"We're looking forward to the playoff game tonight," he said. "We'll have an announcement early next week."
The news conference introducing Wedge is expected to take place Monday. FOX's Ken Rosenthal reported he will get a three-year deal.
Neither Wedge nor his agent returned phone calls from The Times on Friday.
Besides Valentine, other finalists were former Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon, former Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, former Astros manager Cecil Cooper and Brown.
Interviews were completed Wednesday, and the Mariners acted quickly to reach out to Wedge, who also was under consideration for openings with the Blue Jays, Cubs, Pirates and Brewers.
Wedge inherited a young, rebuilding Cleveland team in 2003 and led it to 93 victories in 2005. The Indians finished in second place in the AL Central, six games behind the White Sox and two games behind Boston in the wild-card race. However, they lost six of their final seven games to squander a 1 ½-game wild-card lead.
Two years later, the Indians won the division with 96 wins, tied for the most in the majors. They then ousted the Yankees in four games in the American League Division Series, beating Joe Torre in his Yankees finale in the clincher. The Indians went up three games to one on Boston in the AL Championship Series, one victory from the World Series, but lost the next three games by scores of 7-1, 12-2 and 11-2.
Cleveland was 81-81 in 2008, and nose-dived to a 65-97 record in 2009, having traded away Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, Victor Martinez and others. Wedge was fired with six games to play, but stayed to manage those remaining games even after the announcement of his pending departure.
"I just thought it was the right way to finish things off," he told reporters.
Wedge's record with Cleveland was 561-573, for a .495 winning percentage.
At the time of his firing, Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro — who had hired a 29-year-old Wedge to be the Indians' Class A manager after his playing career (39 games in the majors as a catcher) had ended — told reporters: "Eric has been the epitome of a team player. He's demonstrated consistency, strength, a tireless work ethic, and in my mind he's an exemplary leader. It's been a privilege to work with him."
In an e-mail to The Times earlier this week, Shapiro — recently promoted to team president — said of Wedge:
"Eric is an impact guy and like most successful people, the time to reflect and improve will be applied to wherever he manages next. I think he will build off of his strengths — his toughness, intelligence, level of preparation, and his consistency — to make him an even more effective manager in his next opportunity."
Wedge spent the 2010 season away from baseball, living in Buffalo, hometown of his wife, Kate. They met while he was managing Cleveland's Class AAA affiliate in Buffalo, and were married 18 days after he was named Indians manager. Wedge has two children — a daughter, Ava, 4; and a son, Dalton, 2.
|Eric Wedge's managerial record|
|2003||Cleveland||68||94||.420||4th in AL Central|
|2004||Cleveland||80||82||.494||3rd in AL Central|
|2005||Cleveland||93||69||.574||2nd in AL Central|
|2006||Cleveland||78||84||.481||4th in AL Central|
|2007||Cleveland||96||66||.593||1st in AL Central|
|2008||Cleveland||81||81||.500||3rd in AL Central|
|2009||Cleveland||65||97||.401||4th in AL Central|
|Totals with the Indians||561||573||.495|
|Darrell Johnson||1977 — 1980||588||226||362||.384||6th|
|Maury Wills||1980 — 1981||82||26||56||.317||6th|
|Rene Lachemann||1981 — 1983||320||140||180||.438||4th|
|Del Crandall||1983 — 1984||224||93||131||.415||5th|
|Chuck Cottier||1984 — 1986||217||98||119||.452||5th|
|Dick Williams||1986 — 1988||318||126||192||.396||7th|
|Jim Lefebvre||1989 — 1991||486||233||253||.479||5th|
|Lou Piniella*||1993 — 2002||1551||840||711||.542||1st|
|Bob Melvin||2003 — 2004||324||156||168||.481||2nd|
|Mike Hargrove||2005 — 2007||402||192||210||.478||2nd|
|John McLaren||2007 — 2008||156||68||88||.436||2nd|
|Don Wakamatsu||2009 — 2010||274||127||147||.464||3rd|
|*Piniella has a 15-19 record with the Mariners in the postseason.|
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