Grover's Influence Purely Offensive

The Seattle Mariners head into free agency in 10 days and with many offensive deficiencies to take care of, their new manager should have a positive effect on the end result.



Mike Hargrove's managerial career, spent in Cleveland and Baltimore, tells many tales of playoff runs, regular season disappointments and the rebuilding of a franchise in dire need of a makeover.

When Hargrove took over in Cleveland in the middle of the 1991 season, the Indians were 25-52 and coming off of a stretch of 21 straight seasons in which they failed to finish in the top three in their division.

Hargrove's work with his young players and his influence on the organization turned around a sad club in virtually no time.

In his third full season with the Tribe, Hargrove led the Indians to a second-place finish, marking the first time they had done so in 35 seasons. Grover's propensity to be a positive influence on hitters hit the Cleveland system hard and the results were five straight division titles and two World Series appearances during his tenure.

The former Rangers first baseman worked closely with general manager John Hart to build one of the game's best offensive forces and rode the bats to great success.

The 2004 Seattle Mariners looked more like a team that Walter Matthau is managing than a ship that Hargrove captains.

The effect Hargrove will have on the roster turnover is sure to be a positive shot in the arm for the scoreboard at Safeco Field. Hargrove has always had very good hitters to work with and really doesn't know managing with anything but a top lineup.

When Bill Bavasi ventures out into the market in November, Hargrove's opinions, evaluations and preferences will be taken seriously by his general manager. This bodes very well for the Mariners as their new manager serves as a recruiting tool for available hitters and could be the deciding factor if a player such Troy Glaus, Carlos Beltran or Adrian Beltre considers Seattle's big-money offer.

Hargrove's genius has gone unnoticed for the most part but his track record speaks for itself. His Tribe went from 79 home runs in 1991, to an average of 210 home runs per season from 1995-1999.

As a player, ‘Grover led the league in on-base percentage in 1981 and finished over .400 three times on his way to producing a career mark of .396 behind his ability to take walks and make the pitcher work.

Even though he hasn't been the team's hitting coach in any of the season's where he was also the manager, his philosophy and approach at the plate are certainly something he prefers in a hitter and his Indians' teams are proof of that.

Cleveland led the league in runs scored three times in that span and compiled a .364 team on-base percentage, a mark the Mariners have only challenged once in their history with the .360 mark in 2001.

The M's choice of manager came to a surprise to some, but considering the gross incompetence of the offense this past season, he may have been the best candidate available, thus giving Bavasi very little choice in the matter.

Due to the manner in which Safeco's cavernous alleys treat particularly right-handed hitters, Hargrove's presence can only help. And probably will.

The Mariners scored just 698 runs in 2004 while hitting .270 as a team and launching just 136 home runs. An improved offense is essential if the club wants to return to the upper echelon of teams in the American League. Ah, the upper echelon. A place the M's used to know well. Also a place Hargrove knows well.

Sounds like a nice match between club and manager.

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