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November 13, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Hale: “There is talent”

Before I begin with this morning’s interview candidate, DeMarlo Hale, let me just tell you that Cleveland Indians pitcher Cliff Lee has won the AL’s Cy Young Award. Lee earned 24 of 28 first-place votes. The other four first-place votes — one of which was mine — went to Toronto Blue Jays starter Roy Halladay. But I have no problem with Lee winning. His numbers were incredible. Los Angeles Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez did not get any first-place votes, which shows you that BBWAA writers do know a thing or two about baseball.
Anyhow, Hale just wrapped up his conference call with reporters. His interview began about 7:30 a.m., but he’s from the East Coast, so fatigue wasn’t an issue. Hale managed extensively in the minors before becoming a major league coach in Texas and Boston. I asked him what else he may have picked up about managing by having the experience of coaching in the majors. Remember, interview candidate Randy Ready, one of Hale’s competitors for the job, also has an extensive minor league managing resume — without the added benefit of having coached full-time in the majors. So, does that extra coaching experience mean much when it comes to managing in the big leagues? What has that coaching time taught Hale? After all, on paper, he appears to have the most pertinent experience towards managing of any of the seven candidates.
“The game is faster,” he said of the major leagues. “There is more of an emphasis put on winning in the major leagues compared to the minor leagues, where it’s more about developing players.”
Interesting assessment. Because remember, Ready said one of the things he’d learned managing in the minors — after playing for 13 years in the majors — was that development doesn’t stop when you get up to the major league level. Easy to see how one guy is coming off a job as a minor league manager while Hale is coaching on a Red Sox team where winning is the only option.
Hale is bang-on about winning being a priority in the majors, though. Even teams that should be developing players, like the Mariners last May and June, do not make moves that appear to be obvious (releasing Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro) because they do worry about wins and losses. It’s what drives the bottom line. If you start losing 10 in a row in June, folks will stop buying tickets in August. This year, the M’s held off their 12-game losing streak until September — when they were in full-fledged minor league prospect stage — and likely spared themselves some further damage on the box office front.
Hale offered a brief assessment of the Mariners.
“They always played us good, so there is talent on this team,” he said. “They’ve got some arms out there. They have the position players who have the tools and the pieces to be a solid, championship club.”
Now, he added, the team has to bring some players in to improve what’s there.
“You try to formulate a team where you can get certain types of production in certain places,” he said, adding that things like Seattle’s vast outfield should play into player moves that are made.
Hale also said any team has to have specific goals for competing within its division.
“You move forward, you want pieces,” he said. “This team has some pieces.”

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