The Mariners today are in the process of finishing the first round of managerial interviews, with former Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon and former Cleveland manager Eric Wedge in town. That follows Bobby Valentine on Monday, and Cecil Cooper and John Gibbons on Tuesday.
Will the Mariners interview anyone else besides those five? Those in the know have been vague on that subject, leaving open the possibility that the field could expand. I remain intrigued by the fact that Tony La Russa still has not committed to returning to the Cardinals. I know it’s a longshot, but I think the Mariners have to at least investigate if the third-winningest manager in MLB history — a West Coast resident who at age 66 might be looking for one final challenge — hits the open market.
There have also been clues that the club could be waiting to interview someone whose team is currently involved in the postseason, which would lead to some tricky logistics and possibly delay a final decision. And that leads to the new name I’m going to throw out as a possibility down the road: Clint Hurdle, currently the hitting coach for the ALCS-bound Texas Rangers. He fits the profile of what the Mariners seem to be looking for, having managed the Colorado Rockies for seven-plus seasons, from 2002 until being fired in late May of 2009. Hurdle, 53, had a 534-625 record (.460) with only one winning season, but that one resulted in a trip to the World Series in 2007. The Rockies went an incredible 21-1 down the stretch to finish with 90 wins and the National League wild card. They swept the Phillies and Diamondbacks in the playoffs to win the NL pennant, but were swept in the World Series by Boston. There are rumblings that Hurdle — who as a player went to camp with the Mariners in 1983 but was cut before Opening Day — may get consideration as a candidate. Nothing written in stone.
The other former managers who are coaching in the playoffs include former Royals manager Tony Pena, the current Yankees’ bench coach, who is rumored to be on the Florida Marlins’ list of candidates; and Phillies first-base coach Davey Lopes, who was Brewers manager (2000-02) while Zduriencik was working in Milwaukee’s front office. Rays bench coach Dave Martinez has been widely mentioned recently as managerial timber, but he doesn’t have managerial experience.
Seven teams are currently looking for managers, so there’s a lot of secrecy involved in this search that wasn’t present when the Mariners hired Don Wakamatsu two years ago. This list of known candidates for each job (also known as the Eric Wedge Interview Tour, shows the overlap that’s taking place:
Don Wakamatsu (the Cubbies love those former Mariners’ managers)
Lurking: Yankees manager Joe Girardi
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel posted this story today in which Cecil Cooper — after interviewing for the Mariners job on Tuesday — expressed his desire to manage the Brewers, where he was one of the greatest players in team history. “I think I would be a perfect fit,” Cooper told Haudricourt. “I hope they think so too.”
Cooper said of his Mariners’ interview, “I think it went well. Jack and I have some history.”
The managerial search is on hold until they hire a general manager, but Valentine’s name has surfaced here, too. But first he’d have to resolve differences with owner Fred Wilpon, who fired him at the end of the 2002 season.