It appears, according to Piniella’s comments and information gleaned from two sources, that the club only contacted the former M’s skipper to ask if he had any advice or recommendations for the managerial opening — not to try and convince him to take the job himself.
Because those at the top of the organization will never let go of 1995 and 2001, the brass of the Seattle Mariners apparently put on the full court press to bring back Lou Piniella as manager.
Of course they did.
Sweet Lou will always hold a special place in our hearts. No one will doubt that. Getting the squad over the hump and into the playoffs for the first time. Playing his part in building that late-90’s to early-oughts teams that gave us hope every year. Heck, even the tirades summon fond memories.
But, let’s be honest here. What is a 70-year-old Piniella, happy in retirement, going to do for this team? How will he turn this roster — or one constructed similarly — into a winner? He’s not. We know that. He knows that. The problem is that the guys in suits don’t know that.
On the other hand: Is our initial eye-rolling reaction stopping us from seeing the bigger picture?
Have we just been handed a blurry blueprint that gives us an idea of what kind of off-season this team plans to have?
Obviously, Chuck Armstrong, Howard Lincoln and Jack Zduriencik didn’t ask Lou to come turn a bunch of unproven kids into winners. If, as Ken Rosenthal says, the M’s made a serious push to bring him back, there had to be conversations about what their plans were. And those plans had to involve bringing in established major league veterans. I just cannot see them pitching more of the same to a guy who wouldn’t accept what’s in place now.
They may not have got the manager they wanted, but this is probably just the beginning of things to come. Maybe it’ll be some big free agent splashes. Maybe they’ll ship a boatload of prospects out for more immediate hope. I don’t know, but we’ll probably start to get an idea of that not too long after the conclusion of the World Series.
We know that managers play very little role in win totals over the course of a long season. However, you could convince me that having an established and respected manager in place would help in attracting the talent you desire. These are people we’re talking about. Things other than money, location and tradition do matter. How much? I don’t know. Maybe not a lot. But anything the M’s can do to help persuade a guy to put on the compass rose, they probably figure can help.
While the M’s were slow to dabble in the market the last two years, having to settle for scraps after their primary targets signed elsewhere, this could be the first clue that they plan to go after their targets aggressively this winter. I don’t want to paint this picture as good or bad because, well, we don’t know who they covet. We don’t know how much payroll might go up or down. We don’t know anything, because the Mariners won’t tell us anything.
I think we have an idea now, though.
Good or bad, whatever their strategy may be, I take this Lou Piniella report as writing on the wall that Jack is going to head into the market guns a blazin’.
Jason A. Churchill
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