I had read and heard Seattle was looking for a manager who had minor league managerial experience, was a teacher, and most likely a bench coach for a major league team. So they hire Lloyd McClendon, former manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates and recent hitting coach of the Detroit Tigers. Joey Cora and Rick Renteria were closer to the criteria, so why McClendon?
The Mariners I am sure will put on the happy face at the Thursday press conference, extolling the virtues of McClendon, and blah, blah, blah. What they say does not matter, nor what McClendon says either. Should the Mariners have hired Renteria. a man insiders say is a top managerial prospect? I don’t know.
But I am thinking the conversation in round two of interviews with the final five candidates was about money. What are you looking for in a contract Mr. Renteria? How about you Lloyd? My paranoid, conspiratorial, instincts tell me that Lloyd submitted the lesser bid. But there may be another reason. In his five years as Pirates manager he won 62, 72, 75, 72, then 55 before being replaced by Pete Mackanin for the final 26 games. Looking at those yearly win totals is it any wonder he was chosen as the Mariner manager. He will fit right in.
He managed the Pirates from 2001-2005, winning 43% of the games, compiling a 336-446 record. He has a reputation for challenging umpires, placing 4th in ESPN’s coaches gone wild list. In a 2001 game against the Milwaukee Brewers he was upset at a call at first, so after arguing with umpire Rick Reed, he picked up first base and left the field with it. Lou Piniella may pick up a base and toss it like a cow pie, but McClendon truly stole the base. He also was quoted as saying the Pirates don’t always get fair calls. Comments like that can work against you, insuring you will not get close calls in the future.
But he comes with a reputation as a manger players respect. In truth, unless you are Tony LaRussa, Lou Piniella, Dusty Baker, Jim Leyland, or someone with a track record of success, you do not know how any manager will do.
A manager is only as good as his players and the M’s don’t have the players do make McClendon look any better than he did at Pittsburgh. He can steal first base, but he will not steal wins.