The Seattle Mariners have a new manager, and it's none other than Lloyd McClendon, the Mariners officially confirmed Tuesday night:
#Mariners announce Lloyd McClendon as 16th fulltime manager in club history. McClendon in town Thursday to meet with media.— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) November 6, 2013
McClendon, 54, has managed once before when he led the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2001-05. After being let go by the Pirates, McClendon held various roles with the Detroit Tigers as a part of Jim Leyland's staff.
"I am extremely excited about the opportunity to manage the Seattle Mariners," McClendon said in a statement, per ESPN.com. "Seattle has a tremendous group of talented players and the fans and city should be excited about the club's future. I'm looking for this group to take a big step forward."
So, what can fans in the Northwest expect from McClendon? What are people saying about him, and is he the right manager to build a culture of winning in Seattle?
In addition to his coaching duties, McClendon spent eight years as a player, playing for the Chicago Cubs, Pirates and Cincinnati Reds. He mainly served as a reserve, but he was versatile and saw time at outfield, catcher and first base throughout his tenure.
A fun trivia fact, McClendon was a part of the 1982 deal that brought Tom Seaver back to the New York Mets in late 1982.
After finishing up his playing career, McClendon joined the staff of the Pirates as a hitting coach in 1996. He was then appointed the manager after the 2000 season.
It's understandable why he was fired from the Pirates, but for McClendon to put forth the records he did with the horrible pitching he had each year, it's easy to see why the Pirates stunk during his tenure.
McClendon was given another chance to coach alongside Leyland in Detroit. After one year as the bullpen coach, McClendon was promoted to hitting coach for the Tigers in 2007. And his hitters flourished.
In his seven years as hitting coach, a Detroit player won the batting title four times. McClendon's also had five other occasions where one of his players finished in the top five in batting.
Can Lloyd McClendon turn around the Mariners?
That track record had to be a selling point for the Mariners. Plus, let's not forget he had to pick up a thing or two during his tenure with Leyland, one of baseball's best for a long time.
What Others Are Saying
CBS Sports' Danny Knobler wrote how every year Leyland would ask why McClendon wasn't getting a chance to manage again:
Every year, Jim Leyland would ask the same question. Every year, I had no good answer for him.
"Why isn't Mac getting a chance?" Leyland would ask.
Knobler noted the biggest difference between the Pittsburgh team McClendon took over in 2001 and the Seattle team he'll take over in 2014:
His opening day starter then: Todd Ritchie.
His opening day starter now: Felix Hernandez.
"He had no chance [with the Pirates]," Leyland said. "Absolutely no chance. All he could do was make a good impression."
According to the Associated Press (via Detroit Free Press), Tigers bench coach Gene Lamont thinks McClendon is prepared for the job:
Lamont said he thinks McClendon is better prepared to manage now than when he got his first opportunity with the Pirates.
"Right now, I think the eight years he had with Jim (Leyland) in Detroit, I think it's really prepared him to manage," Lamont said. "He should do a great job."
Of course, some Mariners fans aren't thrilled with the hire:
Introducing your new manager: Lloyd McClendon, the runner up to Eric Wedge in the 2010 managerial search. Classic move. Go Mariners.— Jeremy Peronto (@jeremyperonto) November 6, 2013
Maybe Lloyd McClendon has learned a lot since last time he was a manager. Hard not to see this as another old school retread, though.— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) November 5, 2013
Regardless of the initial reactions, McClendon has earned the right to be a manager again. He's paid his dues and shown himself to be capable of filling that managerial role.
There's no doubt the future is bright for the Seattle Mariners, especially when you consider the future of their starting rotation. It's a rotation that will likely include Felix Hernandez, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Hisashi Iwakuma.
Hitting-wise, it's a different story, as top hitting prospects Dustin Ackley and Mike Zunino have failed to pan out thus far. But that could change with McClendon at the helm.
McClendon brings with him the fact that he just finished coaching the best hitter in the game in Miguel Cabrera. While Cabrera was already a great hitter, he really began to find his consistency in Detroit.
McClendon found a winning formula for the hitters in Detroit and the franchise experienced some of its biggest successes since the late '80s.
He has the pitching he didn't have in Pittsburgh. He has the ability to coach up the hitters. As long as the front-office staff can draft and acquire a decent bat or two, things should slowly turn around for the franchise.
Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times passed along the following Tuesday:
McClendon said his time in Detroit reaffirmed the beliefs he'd had with the Pirates that he had indeed been doing things "the right way" as a manager. Many of the teachings he'd tried to instill on the Pirates were things the Tigers implemented with their own winning clubs.
"It's the right way to go about your business, the right way to play the game," McClendon says. "There is a right way to handle yourself when you're a major league baseball player and I try to instill that in all my players. You take care of your business and you respect the game."
Lloyd McClendon is prepared to take the Mariners to the next level, and it's something Seattle fans should expect. It's not to say the Mariners will win the World Series next year, but they are an organization that should be expected to compete over the next few years in the AL West.