President Mather doesn't want to tie the hands of new general manager
By Greg Johns
SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is under contract through next season and has the support of team president Kevin Mather, but McClendon's future with the club will lie with whomever is hired to replace Jack Zduriencik as the franchise's general manager.
"We're going to try to move forward and continue to try to win ballgames on a daily basis," McClendon said.
Mather said Friday he's not going to tie the hands of the person who takes over the club's baseball operations -- a hire he expects to make by the time the playoffs end in early November.
"I spoke to Lloyd this morning," Mather said after parting ways with Zduriencik, who was in his seventh season as general manager. "I like Lloyd. In 2014, we won 87 games with a team I hoped could come close to .500. Our coaches were geniuses. This year, our bullpen imploded and we couldn't hit for the first two months. Did Lloyd lose his mind? My answer is no. I think highly of Lloyd and his staff.
"He will report to the new general manager, and I'm hoping to get that general manager in sooner than later. And I'm expecting Lloyd and the general manager will have plenty of time to discuss strategy and philosophy. That's why I'm eager to get started on this process."
But Mather reiterated that there are no guarantees McClendon will return for a third season, and Zduriencik's replacement will have the final say on Mariners managers and coaching staffs at all levels of the organization.
"Lloyd is under contract through 2016. We certainly will honor his contract," Mather said. "I will not tell the new GM that he'll have to use, hypothetically, a certain third-base coach or anyone else. Those decisions will be up to him. That said, I think Lloyd and his staff have done a very good job, and I'll certainly get the [the new GM's] opinion of our staff and encourage them to keep them because, quite frankly, I think they've done a tremendous job."
McClendon was the third manager Zduriencik hired during his seven years in Seattle, during which the team went 502-595 and had two winning seasons while never reaching the postseason.
McClendon said he won't change his approach over the remaining five weeks of the season.
"Same as I always do," McClendon said prior to Friday's game against the White Sox in Chicago. "We go out today and try to win a ballgame. After this, the day is over. Go home, refuel and come out tomorrow and try to win a ballgame."
Zduriencik hired Don Wakamatsu as his first manager in 2009, but he dismissed him midway through the following season after he led the club to a 127-147 record. Daren Brown finished out the final 50 games that year as the interim manager, and Eric Wedge was hired in '11.
Wedge chose not to return in 2014 after going 213-273 in three seasons, with McClendon replacing him last year and posting a 146-144 record to date.
Mather said the new GM will also have final say on the scouting and personnel departments, where he also believes the Mariners have many good people already in place.
"Clearly we have to get better," Mather said. "Our last playoff game was in 2001, and it's not that we have a lack of resources. There's no reason this team isn't competing for postseason baseball year in and year out. I do have opinions on certain departments, but that's going to be up to the the new general manager to bring in people to help us get there."