Tim Bogar, who many consider the early favorite to become the Mariners’ next manager, has plenty of history with new GM Jerry Dipoto. But can he become the first successful Seattle manager since Lou Piniella?
So what will the Mariners go for this time?
Stern and stately? Fiery and frenetic? A tactician, a statistician, or maybe, to change things up, a musician?
For their latest managerial opening, do they want a lifer, or new blood? A screamer, or a stoic presence? A thinker, or a gut-feeling guy? A base-thrower or a bunt-caller?
Maybe the question to ask, in honor of their most successful manager, Lou Piniella, is simply: regular or menthol?
If it seems like they go through this exercise every couple of years, it’s because they do. Since Sweet Lou toddled off to Tampa in 2003, the Mariners can’t quite find the right guy to guide the ship. Or recognize him when they do have him: Bob Melvin lasted two years in Seattle, got canned, then went on to win two Manager of the Year awards elsewhere.
Now Jerry Dipoto becomes the fourth general manager to try to get it right, having let go, failed to retain or dismissed — pick your favorite euphemism for “fired” — Lloyd McClendon on Friday.
Dipoto has never hired a major-league manager. He inherited Mike Scioscia in Anaheim, to discomfiting results. Dipoto gave a few clues to his wish list Friday, saying he wanted a motivator, someone with passion, energy and the ability to inspire.
Unfortunately, Nelson Mandela is no longer available, so Dipoto will have to go a more conventional route.
He also wants someone who can process the vast array of information now available to break down the game, but also with the ability to trust his eyes and instincts.
“Through the course of a baseball game, it is not all about the data you’re provided, and it’s not all about what you’re seeing with your eyes,’’ Dipoto said. “It’s somewhere in between. A prerequisite is to find someone who has the ability to balance those two things in an effective way.”
Dipoto indicated that he hopes to keep the identity of the candidates private, but acknowledged he already has a short list in his head. As is always the case, a multitude of names have been speculated, ranging from a pair of brothers (Joey and Alex Cora) to former Padres manager Bud Black, former Mariners icons Raul Ibanez and Dan Wilson, former playoff hero Dave Roberts, and various names like Gary DiSarcina, Joe McEwing, Charlie Montoyo and Scott Servais.
But the smart money is already on Tim Bogar, who was a teammate of Dipoto’s with the New York Mets, hired by him as a special assistant with the Los Angeles Angels last year, and thought to have been Dipoto’s choice as heir apparent to Scioscia should that opening ever have arisen.
Bogar’s resume is diverse, and impressive. As a player, he was a utility man for the Mets, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers for nine seasons. He played all four infield positions in the majors (as well as pitching in two games) and once played all nine positions in a Class AAA game. Bogar was a lifetime .228 hitter who once said of his career, while active, “I’m the type of guy that’s never noticed, but I’m needed.” And also: “My mind always took me farther than my athletic ability.”
Bogar will turn 49 later this month. He’s from Cottage Grove, Ill., the same town that produced former Dodgers outfielder Mike Marshall, and attended Eastern Illinois University, the same school that produced Tony Romo.
After retirement, Bogar went into coaching, and became a highly successful minor-league manager for three organizations. He compiled a 362-266 record, advanced to the championship round four times in five years, and was twice named Manager of the Year, once in rookie league and once in Class AA.
Bogar broke back into the big leagues in 2008, when Joe Maddon hired him as the Rays’ “quality-assurance coach,’’ where he is credited with helping master-mind Tampa Bay’s cutting-edge defensive shifts. On Friday, I solicited a colleague covering the National League Division Series to ask Maddon about Bogar before the Cubs’ game with St. Louis.
“Baseball-wise, he’s very sharp,’’ Maddon said. “He’s very organized and detailed. Personality-wise, you can classify him as a communicator, a guy you can speak with. He’s open-minded and willing to try different things. He’s definitely managerial material.
“We hired him as a quality-assurance coach with the Rays and did a great job with that. He’s a good infield instructor and does a lot of things very well.”
Besides Maddon, Bogar coached under Terry Francona in Boston (also Bobby Valentine, but that’s a whole ‘nother story) and Ron Washington in Texas. When Washington stepped down abruptly late in the 2014 season for undisclosed personal reasons, Bogar became the interim manager and guided the eventual 95-loss team to a 14-8 record.
That made him the overwhelming favorite to get the Texas job full-time, but the Rangers surprisingly went instead with former Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister. It’s hard to argue with that decision, considering where the Rangers are now. That’s when Bogar was reunited with Dipoto for the 2015 season — at least until Dipoto resigned in June, mostly because of the power struggle he lost with Scioscia.
More from the Bogar files. He’s very conversant in baseball analytics but told the Dallas Morning News last year, “I think they’re valuable, but I also know your stomach will tell you more than a number ever well.”
While Red Sox bench coach in 2012, Bogar gave a talk at the Sabermetrics, Scouting and the Science of Baseball seminar. He was co-presenter of a new statistic called OVP (offensive-value percentage) designed to better measure production.
His nickname, of course, is “Bogey.”
Mabye someone else besides Bogar will blow Dipoto out of the water in the interview process. There almost always seems to be a stealth candidate no one has mentioned. Or maybe Dipoto will go with the guy everyone thinks is the chalk favorite.
If so, Bogey will have a lot of negative Mariners recent history to buck. But eventually, someone’s going to do that, right? Right?
Here’s looking at you, kid.