Ok, I know what you're thinking. Mike Hargrove retired from the M's, while Ned Yost was fired by the Brewers. That's the obvious difference to the situation. But the similarities are just as interesting. Yost was canned in the middle of a Brewers playoff race, while Hargrove left in the middle of an eight-game winning streak by a then first-place M's team.
Most of the time, managers don't just leave in the middle of success, especially a manager of the Mariners, who haven't had too much success in recent years. When you look back, there was another big story going on for the Mariners at the time.
The teams' perennial all-star Ichiro Suzuki, was nearing the end of his contract. There were rumblings that the singles master had issues with Hargrove, and that it could interfere with whether or not Ichiro would decide to stay with Seattle.
It seems that Hargrove left so that Ichiro would sign a contract for $100 million over five years to stay with the only North American team he has ever known. Believe it or not, but that is one of the biggest reasons why the pressure to have Hargrove retire is the worst "firings" in M's history.
The Mariners of 2007 were an overachieving team, and the long term contract of Ichiro only pushed GM Bill Bavasi to act like the GM of a team that was one push away from a World Series.
Instead of trading the overvalued Ichiro for a bundle of top-tier prospects, Bavasi went the other way and traded a bundle of prospects, including top prospect Adam Jones for Erik Bedard. We all know how that's worked out for us so far.
Now the Mariners are in a position of having an aging egotistical player with a contract nobody would touch with a 10 foot pole. This is not a place a rebuilding team wants to be, especially after depleting its farm system with the Bedard trade.
So thanks, but no thanks Ichiro and the Mariners brass. Lets just hope the manager of 2009 will be a step in the right direction for this severly damaged organization.
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