Firing McLaren Right Move

Seattle Hardball contributor Eric Yang explains why it was time for John McLaren to move on.

The Seattle Mariners were slated to compete for a division title this season after trading for Erik Bedard, and acquiring Carlos Silva and Brad Wilkerson. Yet it is June 19th and the Mariners have the worst record in baseball. The M's have fewer wins than the lowly Kansas City Royals and teams like the Florida Marlins, whose payroll is only $22 million. If things keep going this way, they are on pace to have an even worse season than 2004, when they won just 63 games.

Right now the Mariners stand at 25-47 and have not shown any improvement in any facet of the game. The first response was to fire general manager Bill Bavasi three days ago. According to Howard Lincoln the move was made in order to have a new philosophy and voice.

Today, McLaren was fired and will be replaced by Jim Riggleman, who will be the interim manager for the rest of the season. The Mariners had a record of 68-88 with McLaren at the helm. This was a decision that had to be made.

"We hadn't shown any improvement for the last couple of months. In fact, we were probably regressing," interim GM Lee Pelekoudas said.

From the time he took over from Mike Hargrove last season, he never really got it going with this club. Losing nine straight games in August of last year was the dagger in the race for the division and wildcard. Then this season has been a disaster, and players have underperformed across the board.

He should have perhaps been fired at the end of last season, because the poor finish proved he could not face adversity under pressure. He never was able to get over the hump. If he was fired then we may be talking about a different team and perhaps a contender. A good coach can make the best out of what they have no matter how bad it looks.

McLaren was never able to motivate the players and keep them focused, as the M's had one of the worst offenses and defenses in the league by the numbers. They are near dead last in both categories. The pitching hasn`t been much better as of late either. Guys like Carlos Silva have failed since April and he's now considered a free agent bust who, thanks to Bavasi, will be around for 3 more years.

McLaren never had control of the clubhouse and could not manage the bullpen, contributing to losses time after time. Misusing Mark Lowe early in the season is an example of his bad planning in the bullpen. Everyone in Mariners nation thought he would be better than Hargrove in terms of managing the game and motivating the players, but he never did either. In fact, he did a worse job than Hargrove, who at least had the team playing good to solid defense. That led to not giving up extra outs, which can be the difference in a win or loss.

McLaren is destined to be an average bench coach and not a manager like Lou Piniella who would have the ability to fire up the team when they were losing or show his emotions on the field to get his team rolling.

Some say that the Mariners lost the vocal leader in the clubhouse when Jose Guillen left, but it's a manager's job to be vocal when need be and McLaren never did that. He was ejected from a few games this year and last, and yet there was no profound difference in the club's attitude and showing on the field.

If a manager's actions and words cannot motivate the players then he shouldn't be there. McLaren did not do a good job as manager and it was time he was held accountable for this team's horrible start and performance in the field. Even Ichiro has hit under .300 with less than a .400 slugging percentage. That's unacceptable, and as Mariner nation looks on they can only hope it gets better from here.

Hopefully, Riggleman and the new management team will be able to get this team playing well --- or else the Mariners are on track to stay in the major league basement all year long.

Seattle Clubhouse Top Stories