It seemed likely that new Seattle Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto would want to be able to hand pick who his manager would be after the experience he had in Anaheim with the Angels, and today that has become a reality. As now confirmed by the club, Lloyd McClendon has been relieved of his duties as manager of the team.
Along with McClendon, bench coach Trent Jewett, third base coach Rich Donnelly, outfield coach Andy Van Slyke and bullpen coach Mike Rojas will also not be returning. The team will be retaining hitting coach Edgar Martinez and infield coach Chris Woodward in their existing roles, while Rick Waits and Chris Prieto have been invited to remain with the organization in some capacity.
In a press release by the club, Dipoto gave McClendon respect, stating, “It is a credit to his professionalism that the team continued to play hard through the final day of the season.” But as Dipoto mentioned in his introductory press conference, he wanted to be sure that his manager in 2016 viewed the game in the same way that Jerry does, and on that he said, “After extensive conversations it became clear to me that our baseball philosophies were not closely aligned.”
Dipoto, a former big league pitcher for eight seasons who has been praised for his knowledge and use of analytics, left the Angels after disputes between him and manager Mike Scioscia over the use of analytics for in-game situations came to a head. When being introduced to Seattle media after his hiring, Dipoto mentioned the fact that he was the only active MLB player who was also a member of SABR in his playing days. McClendon seems to be cut from very much the same mold as Scioscia (their playing careers did overlap in the same era) in terms of “old school” philosophy, and although it is said that the players were strongly in his corner even as the team struggled through this season, it is understandable that Dipoto didn’t want to relive a similar situation here in Seattle.
McClendon, who formerly managed in Pittsburgh and was the hitting coach for Detroit up until his hiring in Seattle, was brought in to replace Eric Wedge as Jack Zduriencik’s third manager (Don Wakamatsu was the first) and led the team to a big turnaround in his first season at the helm in 2014. But despite one of the best free agent adds in club history with Nelson Cruz, the historically good bullpen from 2014 fell apart in 2015, posting a 4.15 ERA a year after leading baseball with a 2.59 ERA, converting on just 63% of their save opportunities and ranking second in the AL in bullpen losses with 36.
As we covered yesterday in the Chris Gwynn announcement, Angels ties possibly exist in McClendon’s eventual replacement here, too, as Tim Bogar – hired by Dipoto and the Angels as a special assistant to the General Manager at the end of 2014 – is being widely considered as a favorite to take over. Bogar was a major league coach in Tampa Bay and Boston for five years before being hired by Dipoto to manage in Double-A for the Angels in 2013. He left following that season to become the Rangers’ bench coach, eventually running the club for 22 games at the end of the year following Ron Washington’s abrupt departure from the club. In their playing days, Bogar and Dipoto were teammates for two seasons with the Mets.
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