Mariners to interview Chip Hale

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Seattle Mariners have an interview setup today with one of the oft-named managerial candidates heading into the winter, Oakland Athletics bench coach Chip Hale.

 A necessary digression: This wouldn’t be a Chip Hale piece without mentioning what is likely his best known moment. It came in a minor league game, when he hit a ball deep to the outfield wall. Rodney McCray decided to run through said wall to make a play on said ball. You can watch that video here.

Now, back to the topic at hand. It’s really hard to say where the Mariners are in their managerial search right now. Some reports have them with a long list of names that runs two dozen deep. Perhaps they have whittled that down a bit after internal discussions and now plan to begin interviewing their short-list candidates. They’re certainly not going to fly in 24 guys, so there’s a safe assumption to made that Hale is one of their primary targets.

That Hale is — to the best of my knowledge — the first candidate to get an in-person interview could be telling about their interest level. I don’t know that we’ll see a situation where the club tries to keep him in town until he signs on the dotted line, but that could have more to do with the questions Hale has for the club rather than those they have for him.

While the cloud of uncertainly hanging over the club and GM Jack Zduriencik isn’t exactly inconspicuous, there’s a theory among some that first-time managers will take almost any opportunity they get, due to the extremely small amount of available jobs in this industry. However, Hale certainly has done his homework and happens to work for a guy — Bob Melvin — who knows what it’s like to be scapegoated by this organization.

I’d love to be a fly on the wall during a conversation between Melvin and Hale regarding this opportunity. Jack Zduriencik isn’t the same guy who hired or fired Melvin, so the level of animosity probably isn’t that high. Hale, 48, may not want to roll the dice on waiting around for more opportunities to get his first crack. Hale has been through this process before, having interviewed with the New York Mets, before Terry Collins was ultimately given the job. Hale was their third base coach for two seasons.

Melvin got his first crack in Seattle, and, while it didn’t work out under that shaky front office, things have turned out just fine for him. So, who knows? He might just tell Hale he should go for it.

Now then: Is Chip Hale a good fit? From all accounts, he’s a well respected baseball man that players enjoy being around. He paid his dues managing in the minors — concluding with a successful three-year stint at Triple-A Tucson — before joining Melvin’s staff in Arizona. After that two-year stint in New York, he re-joined Melvin in Oakland for the 2012 season.

Chip Hale might be the guy, or he might not be the guy. We don’t really know what the club wants from their next manager or what the rest of their off-season plans are. He’s a guy that is interviewing, so we’ll see where that goes.

However, the magic elixir to cure the woes of Seattle Mariners won’t include an ingredient that reads “good field manager.” The problem, nor the solution, rests on the shoulders of the man who ends up in the dugout, but rather on those who take the field. If this team plans to climb out of obscurity, they need better players. It’s really that simple.

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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.

12 Comments

  1. Jerry,

    That is not what I implied. It has nothing to do with being lazy. It has everything to do with being out of focus with their goals. You can be stern, and not have to yell at players. You think Lou was a big old huggable bear? I don’t see players complaining that he was too tough on them.

    Players make adjustments all the time. The difference is how long are you willing to let them believe that “it’s okay, work at your own pace” rather than, “Son, I cannot continute to justify your playing time, if you’re not going to show improvement. This is the big leagues, time to put more focus in the instruction you’ve been given.”

    Wedge didn’t like to have to play the bad cop role, and thus he bailed out. Tough love is someones required. Many kids have grown up with tough love, and not had to feel unloved.

  2. Your comments suggest that the main problem was laziness or work ethic problems on the part of the players. I don’t think there is any reason to believe this is the case. As someone above mentioned, the transition to success at the ML level is about making adjustments. Your tough love comments suggest that the young guys need to be yelled at more in order to make those adjustments.

    I think this is a really simplistic notion.

  3. While it’s easy to make a statement about spending money, it’s inaccurate to say that they didn’t because they didn’t “grow a pair” in the previous two seasons. The M’s can want to spend as many millions as you might like. However, nobody has a crystal ball, during the off-season. The biggest misunderstanding, especially on the internet, is that every player Seattle wants, will automatically exclude other offers. Seattle can as much or more that other teams, but still be rejected, for other variables like desire to play on a winning team, or in a city that they prefer. Josh Hamilton is the perfect example of that.

    So, are you in favor of simply spending money, to show that they love you? They are no different than you. They don’t spend money just to spend it. If they had a crystal ball, they might have invested in another bullpen arm. But, who here saw Wilhelmsen coming off the rails, Pryor getting hurt, Capps turning into a batting practice pitcher, etc? So, should they have spent money where they didn’t see a need?

    Yes, there are places they could have spent money. But, it’s naive to think that money is all it takes to motivate a player to sign as a free agent.

    And if they had spent in the wrong places, on long-term contacts, they might not be in the position they are currently in, and have a good sum of money to use this off-season.

    Things are relative. I’ve seen some here say they should have overpaid for X player, assuming that money is the only real motivator. For some players, maybe that’s true. For all players, it certainly isn’t. Honestly, if team A is a potential playoff team and offers $95 million for your services, and the Mariners offered $100 million, are you going to tell me that a 5% increase means that much?

    Be realistic if you are going to talk about free agents. Don’t think that money is the only factor.

  4. They also need someone more in tune with the ways the game is evolving to small ball, shifts and analytics as the Pirates and Rays have used so effectively. It would help if the FO would grow a pair and spend some money for a change, they have plenty now. I’ve heard all the excuses I want to hear, now I want to see some results.

  5. I agree. The instruction at the major league level is about transition, not som much about developing skill sets. We don’t need another Wedge. His patience was helpful, but there needs to be a new stage, that involves accountability. It’s tough to move from being the “patient” manager, to the demanding manager, which is why Wedge had to go. His voice to the players was one of “go at your own speed”. The younger players used that, with Eric defending them because they were still “developing”. The next manager needs to be more about fire and expectations. He will not have any ties to the young players. Wedge with the coddling parent. Now, his children need to adapt to the working enviroment. Now they need a boss who won’t want to listen to excuses. And, I’m sure that’s one of the reasons that Wedge left. He said as much, when he used his rant when he left, that Jack was tired of excuses, and wanted next season to be about results.

    IMO, this is a necessary step to development. Wedge had to go, because you can’t go from being the “nice” guy, to the demanding boss. It’s a reset, and the next Manager needs to enforce achieving results, not waiting for players to find themselves at their own pace. It’s a business, and at some point, there need to be results.

  6. I don’t necessarily agree. The minor leagues is for player development. Not that you expect a polished star immediately, but the Cardinals have SIX rookie pitchers. I don’t think Mike Matheny spent much time on player development this year. I think we have brought the youngsters up a tat bit early. Probably a bit of desperation to cover all the lousy moves and lack of half-way decent free agent signings.

  7. Couldn’t agree more.
    The number one job for the new manager (and his coaches) is player development.

  8. Usually I don’t put much weight into manager choices. However, this year the skipper might have a chance to make a major contribution.

    The M’s have a ton of underachieving young players with talent in Smoak, Ackley, Zunino, Capps, Franklin, Ramirez, Montero, and Wilhelmsen (sorta). Plus, we will likely see guys like Miller, Walker, Paxton, Romero, and Morban get a look in 2014. That’s a lot of good young players who haven’t had sustained success at the ML level.

    Usually, the main thing a manager needs to do is define roles, manage personalities, and fill out lineup cards. But if the M’s can find a manager with skills in teaching and player development, it could make a real difference. For whatever reason, the previous coaching staffs haven’t been able to turn most of these guys into good ML players yet. Hopefully the new guy can change that.

    This is a make-or-break year for Jack and the rest of the front office. Most people seem to think that the success or failure of this club rests on what they do this offseason. That is obviously important, but more important is what the guys already on the roster do next year. The M’s need to chose a guy who is best equipped to help those young players.

  9. Can’t forgive Wedge for bailing out with three days left in the season. That’s a selfish thing to do to his players, especially after all his talk about how much he cares for the kids. Let Detroit have a selfish manager if they want.

  10. Hey, BTW, I kept getting email rejections when I reset your password on your other name. DM me on Twitter or something if you still want that.

  11. Well it’s about time they started to do something other than make up lists. There’s a lot of work to do to improve this club and spending an inordinate amount of time finding a new manager is going to have a negative impact,

    Meanwhile: “If the Tigers have interest in me, I would love the opportunity,” [Eric] Wedge said via telephone. According to John Lowe at the Detroit Free Press. Looks like he’s moving faster than Z.

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