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.
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.