After the introductory news conference for general manager Jerry Dipoto, Lincoln met with the media in a group setting -- something that doesn't happen often.
Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln sat quietly on the side of the room at Safeco Field on Tuesday and watched the news conference introducing general manager Jerry Dipoto.
Lincoln has been in this position. He’s watched the news conferences of Pat Gillick, Bill Bavasi and Jack Zduriencik after hiring them for the same position. And only one — Gillick — succeeded in making the organization a winner. In fact, Gillick produced the most recent postseason team, in 2001. Since then, the winning seasons have been few, the losing seasons have been many and the playoff appearances have been nonexistent. All of that has come under Lincoln’s watch.
On the occasion of Dipoto’s hiring, Lincoln, 75, met with the media in a group setting — something that doesn’t happen often.
Much like with former team president Chuck Armstrong, there is a stigma with Lincoln’s statements. So in the interest of full disclosure, here’s the transcript from Tuesday’s session:
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Question: You spent more money than you ever have on MLB payroll this season, and it didn’t work. Will it remain the same or go down next season?
Answer: “Our major-league payroll budget for this season is $130 million, and I don’t see it going down. We don’t reveal what that figure is going to be until later into the season. But we are going to provide Jerry with all of the resources that we can. Financially, the Mariners are in a very strong position.”
Q: Are the minority owners in agreement?
A: “Our ownership group is the same individuals going back to 1992 when we formed the ownership group. We have never had any disagreements between owners. In this process of interviewing Jerry, I did ask several of the members of our ownership group to help out, and they were all unanimous that Jerry Dipoto was the right guy to pick.”
Q: What is your level of disappointment with the 2015 season?
A: “I’m terribly disappointed. We all know that going into this season our expectations were very high, and rightfully so. We had brought Nelson Cruz in the offseason, we’d increased our major-league player payroll and from everything we could look at, we were ready to have a winning season and get to the playoffs. You know as well as I do what happened, whether it was injuries or player performance not up to par, or this or that, it just didn’t work out. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am. And it really is in part because our expectations were so high.”
Q: Have you tempered them for next year?
A: “I still have expectations, particularly with bringing Jerry on. I always have hope. I think we all have hope. All of us in the Mariners organization want to succeed and want to get back to the playoffs, and we are disappointed when we have a season like this season.”
Q: In your position, how do you hold yourself accountable?
A: “That’s a good question. Over the years, when we’ve had losing seasons, I’ve made some very painful and self-imposed financial hits in terms of compensation, in terms of bonuses, as my way of trying to be accountable. I will do that this season because it’s a losing season. Nintendo is well aware of the self-imposed decisions that I’ve made as well as accepting for responsibility for the losing seasons.”
Q: So you are saying you are taking less money as an annual salary?
A: “I’m taking a significant financial hit and have in the past when we’ve had losing seasons. When we’ve had winning seasons, that’s the opposite.”
Q: Do you consider yourself to be on the hot seat, like you said you were in 2008?
A: “I think if I went back, I probably wouldn’t use those words. But I certainly feel responsible for the performance of the team and the overall performance of the franchise. And when we have losing seasons like this, I accept responsibility in the only way that I can. And that certainly is to take a financial hit.”
Q: How does the recent passing of two Nintendo Corporation’s presidents affect Nintendo of America and its ownership of the Mariners?
A: “We’ve had two significant losses. Mr. (Hiroshi) Yamauchi several years ago and Mr. (Satoru) Iwada, who passed away at age 55. Mr. (Tatsumi) Kimashima is now the president of Nintendo Worldwide. I’ve worked him with for many years. He was the president of Nintendo of America. Nintendo (Worldwide) is actually in very good shape financially and will do very well in this fiscal year. But its focus is on the video-game business. Having worked with Mr. Kimashima for so many years, he’s very intimately involved and knowledgeable of the Mariners organization and very well-acquainted with our ownership group. So that’s a good working relationship. I don’t see any changes.”
Q: How important is it to maintain continuity with manager and general manager?
A: “I think the way Jerry handled that question is the right answer. It would be nice to have one general manager and one field manager forever. Those things don’t happen, as we well know. But Jerry is looking at this thing the right way, which is to get to know (current manager) Lloyd (McClendon), spend time with Lloyd and then make a decision after he’s gathered all the facts. Whatever decision he makes, I will support.”
Q: How has the lack of continuity affected the team?
A: “We’ve had a number of field managers. That’s not a good thing. There’s always an explanation for it. But the fact remains — we’ve had a number field managers. I’d prefer for that not to continue on. But I’m also cognizant of the fact that Jerry has to make the decisions, not me. If he chooses to go in a different direction, as I’ve said I’ll support him.”
Q: How about you? Do you have plans to stay on next season and beyond?
A: “I don’t have any plans to retire. I’d sure like to retire after we go to the World Series or make the playoffs.”