Named Scott Servais manager. [10/23]
In case you had doubts that Jerry Dipoto wanted to avoid another Mike Scioscia situation, the Mariners filled their managerial opening after two long, trying weeks by hiring one of Dipoto's former top assistants. What's more is rumor has it that another one of Dipoto's former charges (Tim Bogar) will be named bench coach in the coming days. Who needs qualifications when you have friends?
It used to be that every new manager was a former catcher. These days, every new manager seems to be, well, literally a new manager. Servais checks both boxes. He caught for parts of 11 big-league seasons, and since retiring has served in various roles on the player-development side. He's never managed at any level for any length of time—save for, perhaps, in his dreams.
Whether that qualifies Servais to lead a team is anyone's guess. What Servais is qualified to do is work alongside Dipoto. The pair have been friendly for two decades, dating back to their playing days. When Dipoto praised Servais' communication skills in the team-issued press release, you get the sense he wasn't just talking about manager-to-player. The line of communication between front office and dugout is important, of course—Dipoto learned this the hard way when he inherited the last remaining manager king in Anaheim—and Seattle should shine in that regard. But what about everything else?
Servais' tactical chops and ability to handle veteran players are unknowns. The prevailing theory about the league's fixation with virginal managers is that they lack the power to tell the front office to mind its own business when it comes to strategy. Presumably, Dipoto and his analytical bent will be apparent in what Servais does from seven to 10 most nights. Outside of those hours, Servais will have to learn how to communicate and motivate established players making a good deal more money than he does. Remember, Servais is accustomed to working with draftees and prospects, not millionaires.
On the one hand, you have to appreciate how the Mariners are trying something new given their past failings with managers. Outside of Darrell Johnson—Seattle's original manager—the one other Seattle skipper to last more than three seasons at the helm has been Lou Piniella. And since Piniella left after the 2002 season, the Mariners have gone through six full-time skippers—Lloyd McClendon, who was dismissed to make way for Servais, is the only one to have finished his tenure with a winning record. On the other hand, hiring Servais after two weeks makes Seattle's interview process look like a sham.
More importantly, if the Dodgers (Gabe Kapler), Nationals (Bud Black), and Marlins (Don Mattingly) each hire their presumed top target, then the league could well enter next season with one minority manager. (Two at most, depending on who the Padres hire.) Isn't it curious how the same candidates who used to get passed over due to their lack of experience are now getting passed over in an era where most of the new skippers have even less experience than they did? It's also unacceptable.
Named Matt Klentak general manager. [10/24]
It was a busy weekend for ex-Angels executives. While Dipoto and old assistants Servais and Bogar reunited in Seattle, Klentak rejoined one of his former bosses in Philadelphia.
Klenak's relationship with Andy MacPhail dates back nearly a decade. The two worked together on the 2006 CBA and MacPhail eventually hired Klentak in Baltimore as his director of baseball operations. Klentak would later leave for the Angels, where he's since served as an assistant general manager. He comes equipped with your standard modern-day GM repertoire: an Ivy League degree, experience with arbitration and all that minutia, and known interest in analytics. As an added bonus, he even played baseball at Dartmouth College. What a dream boat.
Now Klentak takes over one of the most interesting situations in the game. As we detailed when the Phillies canned Ruben Amaro Jr., there's a belief that the Phillies job is a good one. And why not? The Phillies are located in a large market, have owners who are willing to spend, possess a good farm system (plus a no. 1 pick joining the ranks in eight months), and are far enough down the rebuilding road that competitive aspirations could be as close as 12 months away.
It's up to Klentak to make sure the Phillies remain on schedule—or, better yet, to ensure the Phillies become the next team that arrives early.