Gillick not replacing Armstrong

 A few hours after the Seattle Mariners announced the 2014 field staff they added another news item: Chuck Armstrong is retiring, effective January 31, 2014. A few seconds after I tweeted that out, the team confirmed, and the speculation began in terms of who might be next as the team’s president.

I have no idea who it’s going to be, nor when that decision might be made — or if it will be made at all. What I do know is that it’s not going to be Pat Gillick. Gillick, 76, still owns a home in Magnolia and still is a consultant for the Philadelphia Phillies. He’s still a great baseball mind who commands, and gets, a ton of respect for what he’s done in the game. He’s also still not a fan of the leadership of the Seattle Mariners, from all accounts I can collect from various sources.

So the joy-jumping that took place after the announcement was made may only be warranted to a certain extent, since there is still a great chance nothing changes with the Mariners baseball team. Several baseball people told me today that “Chuck not the real problem,” or something to that effect.

There’s nothing wrong with firing shots at the job Armstrong did in 28 years with the Mariners. There were some good things, of course, but it appears the bad outweighs the good by leaps and bounds in terms of the lack of success on the field.

The problems still exist, however.

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at InsidethePark.com. He spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016. Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.

8 Comments

  1. We’ve had two lawyers running the team for years, they didn’t do great at the baseball part. Read Shannon Drayer’s interview with Lincoln, Evidently he hasn’t made up his mind about what the duties and responsibilities of the new club president will/should be, or if they should have a president of baseball operations and another president of business operations. Lincoln evidently thinks highly of Armstrong’s baseball knowledge. I have no direct personal knowledge on that subject but based on results I have doubts about his game smarts. Same for Lincoln, they need somebody in there who is a baseball professional. Having two old lawyer/fans passing judgement on baseball matters has not worked. No doubt they have put the club in a fine financial position and deserve attaboys for that. It’s time they recognized their limitations.

  2. He should know enough about baseball so he can tell who’s BSing him and who’s doing the job. And I think it’s perfectly OK to expect a hire of someone who’s familiar with the business aspects of baseball–I think it’d be unacceptable to bring someone in from the outside who has to get up to speed on the basic nuts and bolts of running a baseball team.

    I also think it would be wise to bring somebody else in from the outside, who has experience with other clubs, and multiple styles of management. There may be a “Mariner way of doing things”, but a great deal of it is, by definition, not a good way of doing things, given the club’s won-loss record.

  3. Wow!!! So having a Law degree, even if in sports management, is an automatic reason for disqualification? A majority of a team president’s job has nothing to do with team roster construction. That’s left up to Jack.

    Considering the general tasks of a team President, I’m not really sure that they need to be someone like the three you mention. If you want someone to make baseball decisions, then fire Jack and hire a new GM. But the team President should not have a big say about on-field decisions. However, he is part of selecting the right GM to make those decisions. At the most, he acts much the same way any company President does. They don’t know all the answers, they hire people who do. Their job is to make sure that the data they are receiving from those who report to him, make sense for both the team, and the ownership group. Do you think a group President at Boeing knows how to build an airplane? Probably not, but he hires people who do.

    I’m not sure who the President should be, but in effect, he/she should be completely neutral.

  4. I think Lincoln and ownership know that the team’s committed followers won’t accept another lawyer in that position, Lincoln is one too many (but I respect his and Armstrong’s business acumen, they have positioned the team well financially). The need for a baseball professional is patently apparent and if they don’t go that route they are going to catch hell from all over – including me. Tony La Russa, Brian Cashman and Larry Bienfest make sense to me, but actually La Russa has a law degree (A Juris Doctor degree from Florida State University College of Law.) I could live with that one.

  5. Gillick is 76 years old. I would hope they’d go find someone younger. Pat’s a great baseball man, but not someone you want in that position, if you are planning on stability for the near future.

    One scapegoat down.

  6. Lincoln, ownership.

    Chuck’s position is usually the middle man between CEO and ownership, and the GM. So it needs to be a guy who knows baseball and the business of baseball.

  7. I don’t think any of us knows what the REAL impact or job function of the non-baseball people are. If Chuck “wasn’t the real problem”, then who was? Zdurencik? Lincoln? And if Lincoln, how? Corrosive corporate structure? Bad internal communications? What?

  8. One down, and one more to go. Too bad the one that REALLY needs to leave (Lincoln) isn’t going ANYWHERE… Gillick would have been a great choice, but as long as Lincoln is still around it is not going to happen.

    Jason, if Armstrong really didn’t exercise much power the last few years, how desirable is the now vacant position? Would the new hire assume more power and influence? I never really understood the exact roles Armstrong and Lincoln had with the team or how each of the two roles was different. I got the impression Jack Z has been able to do just about anything he wants to the past few years, as long as he stays within the budget…

    Should we hope to see a BASEBALL GUY in the new position and would it matter given Lincoln is still around and in charge?

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