Dipoto on Lloyd McClendon and Coaches
Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto announced today that Lloyd McClendon and several of his coaches will not be returning for the 2016 season. (The news release announcing the changes is here.)
In a conference call with reporters this morning, Dipoto called it “a difficult decision-making day for the Mariners.”
Dipoto said that he respects and admires McClendon, especially for keeping the team playing hard until the end of the season, but after the better part of two weeks getting to know Lloyd and the coaches, Dipoto felt that it wasn’t a good match.
“I visited with him frequently over the course of the final week of the season, we had breakfast in the mornings, we talked baseball, we had a sit-down anywhere from an hour to two hours every other day, and then just general chatter at the ballpark. I learned that I like Lloyd a great deal. He’s a good guy, he’s very easy to spend time with, to talk to. But at the end of the day this was an opportunity to come into an organization and create a vision and I feel like this is the best way to do that.”
Dipoto plans to start the search for the new manager right away.
“I’d like to find an energetic positive influence in the clubhouse that I think will make a difference here. That starts today. I can’t put a final date on when we’ll conclude, but I do believe we’ll get the right character.”
When asked what qualities he’s looking for, Dipoto replied, “Energy, positive interaction with players, a good baseball background, a teacher, someone who can create a plan and lead people. In many ways in today’s game the manager’s position has become as much about creating an environment as it is about x’s and o’s.”
Dipoto is known as an analytics guy. But his ideal candidate for manager doesn’t necessarily have to be a member of SABR, “Just that they’re open-minded and receptive to different ideas. I like everyone to use information in a positive way. Critical thinking and decision-making is important and you can’t make those decisions without the information.”
But he conceded that analytics alone aren’t enough.
“Through the course of a baseball game, it is not all about the data you’re provided. It is not all about what you’re seeing with your eyes. It’s somewhere right in between. A prerequisite is going to be to find someone who has the ability to balance those two things in an effective way.”
Dipoto also announced this morning that Edgar Martinez has been invited to return as hitting coach next season.
“We didn’t have a relationship, but I played with Edgar many years ago in Puerto Rico, so I knew of the way he carries himself in the clubhouse. And sitting with him this week and listening to him talk about the players, listening to him breakdown hitting, and clearly how invested he was in making the players better really excited me. I’m very excited about the opportunity to bring him back as I think he is. This is where he wants to be.”
He also invited infield coach Chris Woodward to return.
“He has the type of passion and energy that I’m looking for and we will value in building the staff moving forward. And I felt like with Chris Woodward, we were watching a real impact coach. It’s hard in the Big Leagues to step in and make an impact early in your coaching career as a young guy, like Chris did, and I admire it. With guys like Robinson Canó and Kyle Seager and Chris Taylor and Brad Miller, Ketel Marte, he made an impact on both young and veteran players. They respect him and I really like his energy, so I felt like he was a very good fit moving forward.”