(Seattle Times staff photo)
Earlier today, we learned that two key international staffers, Bob Engle and Patrick Guerrero, are leaving the Mariners.
Now word has surfaced that Pedro Grifol, who has served the Mariners in numerous capacities over the past 13 years, most recently as manager of Class A High Desert, has not had his contract renewed. Jose Castro, their minor-league hitting coordinator, also won’t be back. For a stretch in 2008, Castro was the Mariners’ interim major-league hitting coach after Jeff Pentland was fired.
Grifol was let go following a season in which he led High Desert to both the first and second half titles, and was named the California League Manager of the Year.
Grifol, who turns 43 in November, was the M’s minor-league director for three seasons (2008-11), and has also served Seattle as coordinator of instruction (2005-07), managed Everett (2003-05), and scouted for them in Puerto Rico and Florida (2000-05).
I talked to Grifol earlier this evening from Venezuela, and he confirmed that he was let go by the Mariners. He is preparing for his second season managing the Lara Cardenales in the Venezuelan Winter League — a stint that will ironically put him in charge of current Mariner prospects like Mario Martinez, Gabriel Noriega , Angel Raga, Roenis Elias and Danny Farquhar (one of the pitchers acquired from the Yankees in the Ichiro trade) — not to mention former Mariners like Jose Lopez, Luis Valbuena and Tyson Gillies.
Grifol took the high road, expressing no bitterness over the decision, which he has known about for three weeks, he said.
“They decided not to renew me and we parted ways,” he said. “That’s how baseball is. I had a great run for 13 years. They gave me opportunities to do almost everything in the game, from area scout to big league coach and everything in between. I have nothing but great things to say about Chuck and the organization and the opportunity they gave me.”
I asked Pedro if they gave an explanation, and he said, “I didn’t really ask for one. It’s just time to move and try something else. It’s probably the best thing to do after a long time in a place, a great place with great people that’s headed in the right direction. Jack and those guys are doing it right. For me, it’s probably time to move on and try something new. Put on a different uniform and get after it somewhere else.”
Grifol said he’d definitely like to stick with managing.
“I’ve spoken to a few clubs,” he said. “I can’t say I’m close to anything, but I’m hopeful something will transpire soon.”
He added, “I’m goinig to miss the hell out of the city, the front office, and the kids. In the positions I was in for the last six or seven years, you develop great relationships with the kids. I’ll miss that as well. But at some point you have to move on and try to pursue other opportunities.”
Grifol, who knows the Mariners’ farm system as well as anyone, having run it for three years before moving to High Desert this past season, believes better times are coming to Seattle..
“I think Bob Engle and the international department did a hell of a job, got in a lot of talent. Tom McNamara (the scouting director) has done the same, player development has done, and is doing, a good job. It was a good year this year all the way around. We won a lot of games, and you know my philosophy: Win as many games as you can (at the minor-league level) and get guys into the playoffs. There’s a lot of talent, a lot of good kids. I really think this is an organization ready to win. I really do. Eric Wedge is doing a great job. They have the right people in the right places.”