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April 24, 2007 at 10:06 AM

Hargrove mum on extension

Talked one-on-one with Mike Hargrove about whether he’d quietly been given an extension through 2008. Mentioned just what I told you all Sunday, without naming the source, of course. Hargrove was very polite about it all, but he told me he doesn’t like to talk about his personal contract situation and flat-out refused any comment. He also made sure to say this wasn’t one of those wink-wink confirmation types of no-comments, simply a “no comment” one way or another. Read into it what you will.
I’m honored that our rival Seattle paper picked up on this story in today’s editions, crediting our blog at that, and also solicited a bunch of similar no-comments from Bill Bavasi and other front office folks. Read into it what you will.
What would be the motive of giving someone an extension without telling anyone about it? Or giving them a public vote of confidence?
I could offer a “no comment” but I’ll attempt to be more helpful. Number one, it would be a gesture of respect for a veteran manager who was, after all, being asked to go into a season as a sitting duck. With his anticipated successor, John McLaren, sitting right there beside him in the dugout. The Mariners, if they do want McLaren to eventually take over the job, would also like to see him eased into the clubhouse setting and have a bit of time in the dugout with Seattle’s current crop of players before it happens.
Perhaps by extending Hargrove another year, it gives him the added financial security and motivation to go along with a plan that — aside from the Mariners actually confounding everyone and winning something this year — puts him in a lose-lose situation from the start. This way, whether he’s fired tomorrow, six weeks, or six months from now, he knows that he’s being paid through 2008. Helps a guy get out of bed in the morning. We’re all human beings, and Hargrove has been placed in a very uncomfortable position.
Plenty of managers on “hot seats” have been given extensions before. Managers, as a rule, do not like managing with a sort of lame-duck status. That’s what happens in the final year of a contract. Hargrove still has that, since no one has gone public with any confirmation of an extension, but if true and he has been granted one behind-the-scenes, it at least gives him some peace of mind. And who knows? If the Mariners do go out and win 85 or 90 games, then management would have him locked up for another year. At the cost of an average utility infielder. If not, you eat it, the $109 million payroll goes to $110 million or so, and you move on.
That’s my take. So, this may or may not be happening. The whole point in mentioning the rumor in the first place was to answer questions some of you had about whether an extension for Hargrove would preclude him from being fired this year. The answer, the way I’m hearing it, is no.
By the way, it is raining here in Arlington. Has been since late this morning. Real showers are expected later, so it’s a touch-and-go situation. Kenji Johjima is going to catch today after being injured in Saturday’s game by a foul tip off his calf muscle. Hargrove liked Brandon Morrow’s outing last night, obviously, but has no plans to make him a starter just yet. He likes the fact he can be counted on to go multiple innings in a bullpen role at that velocity. Also liked the fact Morrow didn’t always feel the need to throw his fastball at 97. As we mentioned last night, Morrow got the strikeouts when he needed them, then sought light-hitting contact from hitters to get very quick 1-2-3 innings in succession.

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