Expect an announcement by tomorrow morning, but Don Wakamatsu is the new manager of the Mariners. An insider source just called and told me that the six other candidates will be advised shortly that they did not get the job and that Wakamatsu is the guy. Yes, King 5 anchor Paul Silvi gets credit for the initial “scoop” that Wakamatsu was the front-runner. The hiring is now going down. The team has signed off on the decision.
There were people within the Mariners organization who favored Joey Cora for the job. But in the end, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik got total say over the decision and Wakamatsu was his man. In the end, the team’s ownership, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Chris Larson and others, did have to approve the choice. But it’s now done.
Zduriencik has gone into quiet mode and won’t be addressing the media today. He’s been really good with the updates until now, so it seems his next update will be that a new manager has been named.
Wakamatsu is the first major-league manager of Asian descent, his father being a third generation Japanese-American born in a detention camp near the California-Oregon border during the World War II. But this may not mean much on the language front, since Wakamatsu himself admits he only speaks a smattering of that tongue.
Some of you will note that Wakamatsu was once a major-league catcher. He was also one in the minors at Class AAA Tacoma in the Mariners’ organization in the 1990s. This is nothing unusual, as many catchers go on to become managers. It’s a position that helps them see the entire game, from a broader perspective than others may have. in my 11 seasons of covering major league ball, I’ve covered two managers who were coaches at the major-league level — Buck Martinez and John Gibbons — and one, John McLaren, who caught at Class AAA.
In other news, Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox is the American League MVP. Not much of a surprise there.
Justin Morneau finishing second over Joe Mauer rates as somewhat of a surprise, but the placing that counts is whoever wins and it’s tough to dispute what Pedroia did on a team that actually went somewhere. There is a stats case to be made for Grady Sizemore of the Indians, but truth be told, his club didn’t play a meaningful game after the month of May. Unlike Cy Young Award voting, MVP criteria is a lot more far ranging and open to subjectivity. In recent years, that subjectivity has come to place heavy consideration on whether the teams of candidates actually play in meaningful contests or not.
I have no problem with this. I don’t think an MVP candidate should be part of a last-place team, the way A-Rod was in 2003, because how much “value” was actually there? A-Rod was so “valuable” that year, the Texas Rangers traded him soon after he won the award.
These aren’t the VORP, or WARP or WPA, or Win Share awards. It isn’t an award for the Most Outstanding Player. It’s a Most “Valuable” Player award and the word “value” in itself lends itself to subjectivity and makes this prize into what I think is the most interesting in all of sports.
People will have differing opinions and that’s OK.
A pretty good writer, Rob Neyer of ESPN, thinks that Mauer was slighted by BBWAA voters who picked Morneau ahead of Mauer for second place.
What I’m not willing to say — what I’ll probably never be willing to say — is that Joe Mauer deserved to finish behind Justin Morneau in the MVP balloting again. Two years ago, there was virtually no evidence that Morneau was more valuable than Mauer, yet Morneau finished first and Mauer finished sixth. This year, there is virtually no evidence that Morneau was more valuable than Mauer, and yet Morneau finished second and Mauer finished fourth.
Maybe that’s a sign of progress. But for as long as I’ve been doing this, I’ve been told that I don’t see enough games, that I don’t know what it really takes to win, that I don’t appreciate the little things that don’t show up in the box scores.
And for as long as I’ve been doing this, every time the MVP voters have a choice between the guy with the power stats and the guy who does the little things, they pick the guy with the big numbers.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I seem to recall Neyer being around in 2001, when some of us voted Ichiro as league MVP over Jason Giambi.
But he’s entitled to his opinion. And he generally respects the opinions of others in the way he voices disagreements, which is how civilized discourse works.