General Manager Bill Bavasi is hot on the trail for a manager to lead his Mariners into 2005 and beyond and has reportedly narrowed the field down to less than 10 candidates.
In the meantime, Bavasi has enlisted former Marlins manager John Boles to aid in the rebuilding of the 99-loss club.
Boles spent the past three season as a special advisor for the Los Angeles Dodgers
and joins former Dodgers GM Dan Evans as a hired gun under Bavasi.
On the managerial front, the Mariners are said to have conducted a few interviews already down in Peoria, and have shortened the list of potential candidates down to eight or so.
The candidates believed to still be in the mix include former Angels manager Terry Collins, former Oakland A's and New York Mets
manager Art Howe, Angels bench coach Joe Maddon, former Colorado Rockies
manager Don Baylor and former Boston Red Sox
manager Grady Little.
It is believed that the club has spoken to other possibilities such as Dodgers bench coach Jim Riggleman
, former Detroit Tigers
manager Buddy Bell, three-time manager and current Mariner minor league scout Jimy Williams and former Cleveland Indians
and Baltimore Orioles
manager Mike Hargrove.
Bell and Riggleman were interviewed two seasons ago when Bob Melvin
was chosen and Riggleman was among the final three.
The three favorites this time around are said to be Maddon, Collins, and Little, with Little being the only one with playoff managing experience.
News and Notes:
The Mariners designated outfielder Hiram Bocachica for assignment on Wednesday and the 28-year-old exercised his option to decline the move, making him a free agent instead.
The M's made the same move with outfielder B.J. Garbe, infielder Mickey Lopez and right-hander Jeff Heaverlo, all three excepted and were assigned to Triple-A Tacoma.
All four players were cleared off of the 40-man roster, presumably to make room for winter acquisitions.
Following the resignation of senior front office member Roger Jongewaard, minor league instructor Jim Slaton and senior scout Charlie Kerfeld last week, the M's said goodbye to long-time Mariner John Moses who spent nearly 20 seasons with the organization as a player, instructor and coach.
The M's are keeping an eye on the Richie Sexson situation with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 29-year-old power-hitting first baseman is eligible to become a free agent this fall but the Diamondbacks hold exclusive negotiating rights until 15 days after the conclusion of the World Series when the other 29 MLB teams will gain the same right as the free agent market officially opens.
Sexson could be one of the run-producing sluggers that the Mariners look to in attempts to revamp the batting order that ran stale over the past two seasons. Latest word is that the former Milwaukee Brewer is seeking a minimum of $30 million for three years.
Recent published reports that the M's available 2005 payroll would sit somewhere in the $20-25 million range are only correct if the ownership intends to reduce the payroll limit of $95 million set for the 2004 season. As recent as last week, CEO Howard Lincoln gave no such indication, leaving one to believe that the payroll very possibly could see that $95 million mark if that is what it takes to retool the club to the satisfaction of Bavasi as well as the ownership group.
Don't expect the Mariners to get deeply involved in contract talks with former Mariner Jason Varitek. Boston executives have hinted that the catcher will be the first player they sit down with and hammer out an extension as soon as the season is completed.
An update on left-hander Travis Blackley reveals that the 21-year-old was sent to Southern California right after his season ended on September 6. The purpose of the trip was for Blackley to see a doctor in the LA area for a second opinion on the tendenitis in his left shoulder. The results were the same as the first opinion and the promising hurler from Australia went to Arizona to begin rehab in order to be ready for spring training in February.