The Mariners' slide since extending their manager and GM? The definition of a coincidence. They're not going anywhere. Beat writer Ryan Divish weighs in on that, Ichiro's future and more — including what he'd do if he were king of the M's for a day.
The 2018 regular season is down to the final three weeks. There is some drama in the American League for wild card spots and some curiosity about who will win the AL West, but the winners of AL East (Red Sox) and AL Central (Indians) were decided about two months ago.
Over in the National League, everything is still in flux. No division has been decided. So despite all the tanking across MLB, there will still be some drama before the postseason — just not in Seattle.
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September 23 | Searching for prospects and bright spots from 2018 season
September 2 | Why didn't M's go all-in before August waiver deadline?
Yes, general manager Jerry Dipoto was rewarded with a multiyear extension on July 6 just after the team had won nine out of 10 games to improve to 56-32. Hours after a news conference where team president Kevin Mather and managing chairman John Stanton gushed about what Dipoto had built in his first three years as general manager, the Mariners lost 6-1 to the Rockies.
The Mariners have gone 22-31 since the announcement.
Well, by the definition of the word, yes.
It was discussed to the point of annoyance that the Mariners couldn’t sustain that mid-May through June success. Regression was coming much like the fall rain. And it has come, and it hasn’t been enjoyable for fans.
But the decision to give Dipoto an extension played no role in it. It’s not like he suddenly changed philosophies with roster personnel once he had a deal for three more years. It’s not like players rebelled in frustration.
Once Dipoto got the extension, he made it clear that Servais would also get one.
Servais’ extension was announced on July 20, just after the All-Star break. The team went 2-7 going into the break, and the signs of struggle were showing. Before his extension, the Mariners were 58-39. They are 20-24 since.
In three years of covering Servais, he’s been consistent and controlled. It’s something that today’s players prefer over irrational, emotional and unpredictable. His approach when his team is successful is the same as when it is struggling. Reactionary thinking due to small sample sizes is something baseball teams try to avoid.
Some people lament Servais’ controlled nature and believe that if he had more tirades it would somehow motivate players. They use Lou Piniella as an example. Lou’s tantrums weren’t a motivational tactic for players. He just had a bad temper and chose to vent that anger during games — often at umpires.
Think about this: If you believe players need a manager to get angry to motivate them, isn’t there a larger problem that needs to be addressed?
Both men got extensions so it’s unlikely a change is made unless there is some circumstance beyond the norm that would force Mather’s hand.
You can debate whether giving them extensions during the season was the right move. You can argue that they shouldn’t have gotten them in the first place. Both have become a popular subjects within the Mariners fan base. And they aren’t without merit.
The Mariners could make some changes to the front office or baseball operations or even the on-field coaching staff. Those changes won’t appease unhappy fans.
At this point, Dipoto and Servais aren’t going anywhere. Mather admitted he made a mistake in extending Jack Zduriencik and having to fire him a year later. I don’t see him doing it again with Dipoto or Servais unless there are catastrophic results or clear mismanagement.
There is a reason that the special assistant to the chairman is out there every day doing the anti-Allen Iverson: “What are we talking about here? We are talking about practice. Not a game. Practice.”
Ichiro wants to play in 2019 and is preparing for it with his daily batting practice, shagging fly balls, baserunning, sprints, lifting and in-game batting practice despite having no hope of playing. He prepares each day for a game that he must watch.
He has refused to say he was retiring. And he refuses to believe he’s done playing.
When Ichiro agreed to transition to his “front office” role earlier in the season, sources said there was an agreement with the Mariners that he will eschew his role in 2019 and be invited to spring training as a player.
With the Mariners being able to carry 28 players on their roster for that trip to Japan, I expect him to make the trip, participate in the two exhibition games and be on the roster for those first two games with the A’s. After that, it’s anybody’s guess as to what happens. Perhaps he announces his retirement in Japan.
I’m hoping the Mariners start Ichiro in left field for one of those games instead of Ben Gamel to see if fans can actually break Twitter with their outrage.
In a brief discussion with managing partner John Stanton, he seemed satisfied with the agreement. Obviously he and the organization wanted $180 million, but that wasn’t going to happen. Once politics get involved, everything changes. So with the new agreement for $135 million, the team is expected to sign a 25-year lease.
They weren’t realistically going to move to another city. That wasn’t an option for anyone involved. But with the new agreement in place, the Mariners will move closer to announcing a naming-rights agreement for Safeco Field. That was something they needed to get done before moving forward with a new agreement.
- Change the music pregame and during the game. No Pitbull. No Bruno Mars.
- Lower the prices of most concessions by $2-5 dollars.
- Increase the price for garlic fries by $10.
- Add a Shake Shack.
- Force every person that enters The ‘Pen to actually watch the game.
- Ban the wave.