With a day off from school today, I was browsing Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, examining the career of Brett Butler as an archetype for the M’s centerfielder needs when word came across from friend Todd Keister that Lloyd McClendon was a goner. I was sorry to hear it but definitely understand.
Though McClendon’s 2014 team club hard to get within a game of the playoffs, he was managing an imperfect team. The pitching staff, starting and relieving was incredible despite those occasional Fernando Rodney outbursts. That team’s biggest problem was offensive.
The 2015 team, despite offseason efforts to improve the offense, was undone by that same pitching staff. Most of the players were the same, but the results were very different. Injuries to starters Iwakuma and Paxton led to dependence on players not as good, and then to dependence on a bullpen whose performance by almost all its denizens were unrecognizable from the perspective of 2014.
When players fail to perform is the manager responsible. Probably not. But, the G.M. who hires you is like a medieval monarch. When the king falls, usually the king’s men lose their heads.
I like Lloyd McClendon, I really do. I’ve written about his honesty, his ability to diffuse the big picture drama, and deal with the day to day stresses of major league baseball. I’m sure this long losing season was not acceptable to him. But I feel like he hung in there, and that his players hung in with him.
I am also not surprised by this. New G.M. Jerry DiPoto is entitled to his own man. And it sounds like he has some guys in mind-Angels coach Tim Bogar, former Padres manager Bud Black, former major leaguer Alex Cora are all mentioned in news reports.
I think Joe Torre remarked that all major league managers know they will be fired someday. Connie Mack is the only man to escape this fate–because he owned the Athletics. My hope is that McClendon has the chance to manage again. He’s done nothing in Seattle to disqualify him for a future post.