Is the future manager of the Mariners a gritty, moustached veteran? Or would a younger, new-age reformer bent on sabermetrics be a better fit? There are pros and cons to each style, but which one is the better choice for Seattle?
Current manager Eric Wedge fits the first category, but as I browsed the list of MLB managers from 2011, I couldn't find any of the second category. Managers across the board are pretty old. (Of course, exactly what defines "old" is relative, especially coming from someone who has yet to graduate high school.)
That is due mostly to the fact that teams usually like to have a leader in the dugout who is well-versed in baseball, having played professionally at some point. In the Mariners' case, that quality in a manager is vital for the coming years of growth.
Wedge has had experience on the field and even more in the dugout—he won AL Manager of the Year in 2007 with the Cleveland Indians—which is definitely a plus. With the majority of the Mariners starting lineup closer to their debuts than their retirements, a sagacious cornerstone will be extremely beneficial.
The guys who remember players as numbers rather than names should really keep to the front office anyway. Prince Fielder would obviously have a harder time connecting with Paul DePodesta than he would with Eric Wedge.
So, Wedge is the right type of guy for the job, but is he doing it right? Well, the fact that the entire Mariners coaching staff will remain the same going into the 2012 season is a testament to the front office's approval of Wedge and his staff.
In terms of his handling of the team in his inaugural year with the Mariners, he did a pretty good job. The lineup he was given on Opening Day was rickety at best, and it soon became apparent that it wasn't meant to last.
Wedge was active in coping with those difficulties; he had a constant cycle of call-ups and roster moves going. While letting the younger players test their readiness in the bigs, Wedge was able to better familiarize himself with the entire Mariners team system. That experience should make 2012 a lot smoother.
The longer Wedge stays in Seattle, the more chemistry and team awareness he will develop. It is a common trait in championship teams to have a manager who is well-acquainted with the team and its capabilities.
So Wedge is the right fit, and he's doing a good job thus far, but will he mesh with the team? Well, as Mariners fans, we know what a wonderful bunch of players (with a few exceptions...) inhabit the SAFECO Field clubhouse. Terrific chemistry between the players has pretty much been a constant for as long as I can remember.
Adding a reasonable, even-tempered (he's no Sweet Lou) manager to the equation will only further the chemistry. I can see a filial-type relationship developing between Wedge and younger players like Dustin Ackley, Michael Pineda and the rest of them in years to come.
Eric Wedge really is the answer.