Mariners should have fired manager and GM in 2006
In a flurry of too-little, too-late moves this week, Bill Bavasi finally was removed from the hot seat and manager John McLaren, Mike Hargrove's successor, was fired.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Remember the hot seat?
Remember the night two Septembers ago, when Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln put general manager Bill Bavasi and manager Mike Hargrove on notice?
Both Hargrove and Bavasi should have been fired in the late summer of 2006. A visionary new general manager should have been hired and already working his magic.
A fiery new manager, someone like Bobby Valentine, should be seeing progress in what would have been the second year of the team's rebuilding project.
Instead, all Lincoln did was postpone the inevitable and stunt the franchise's growth.
Now, in a flurry of too-little, too-late moves this week, Bavasi finally was removed from the hot seat and manager John McLaren, Hargrove's successor, was fired.
"We're making all the changes necessary to win the maximum amount of baseball games this season," team president Chuck Armstrong said at a Thursday news conference announcing McLaren's firing.
But this season is done, long gone. It's too late to fix it.
Interim general manager Lee Pelekoudas used terms like "underperforming" and "regressing" to characterize the play of this season's Mariners. He also could have used "malaise" and "indifference" to define the players' attitudes.
Maybe this is the one team in baseball history where the 25 players should have been fired along with the manager. At least every player who isn't in the bullpen and isn't named Felix Hernandez or Raul Ibanez could have been canned.
For three months, Seattle fans have watched Mariners players treat baseball as if it were a sentence instead of a game.
And now the Mariners are a mess. They are 22 games below .500, the only team in the American League winning fewer than 40 percent of its games.
This isn't a team that needs to be tweaked. It needs to be blown up. It needs to admit its myriad mistakes — Richie Sexson, Jarrod Washburn, Jose Vidro, Miguel Batista, Kenji Johjima and phlegmatic southpaw starter Erik Bedard.
Bedard has been a disaster, a good idea gone really bad. He should be traded for prospects — real prospects — as soon as possible.
In the last half of this flop-sweat season, the Mariners need to swallow salaries as if they were so many spoonfuls of castor oil.
Bitter is better.
They need to waive first baseman Sexson, put him out of his misery. Waive designated hitter Vidro and shop starters Batista and Washburn. And see if there is another position, besides catcher, that Johjima can play.
There should be very few untouchables on a 25-47 team.
The fire sale should begin.
After all, this season already is toast.
Interim manager Jim Riggleman, a very good baseball man, shouldn't be auditioning for the full-time job. He should be auditioning the kids.
These final 90 games should be devoted to discovering who among the organization's few prospects is ready for the big leagues.
Jeff Clement should be the everyday catcher and Bryan LaHair the first baseman. Wladimir Balentien could be the designated hitter.
Closer Brandon Morrow should be turned into a starter. While he waits for J.J. Putz to get healthy, Riggleman can rotate closers. It doesn't matter because, I repeat, this season is going nowhere.
All of this drama could have been avoided if Lincoln had shown more fortitude, if he had made the tough decisions that should have made two years ago.
Last year, for half a season, Hargrove, desperate to keep his job, abused the bullpen to the point that most of the arms were weary by the time he quit on July 1.
And, because he was on the hot seat, Hargrove hung with veterans, when he should have been playing prospects like Adam Jones.
The first half of last season, when the Mariners stayed in the American League West race, was an aberration, the kind of surprise that ultimately does a franchise more harm than good.
So here they are, in late June, mired deep in the familiar muck of last place. In their 32 seasons, they've made the postseason only four times, all with Lou Piniella as their manager.
In their history, they've had only 10 winning seasons, and this will be their fourth losing season in the past five years.
They were a team in need of real change in 2006, and nothing happened.
Now look at this mess they've asked Jim Riggleman to fix.
Talk about a hot seat.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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