Geoff Baker, our intrepid sports business and investigative reporter, got a tip from one of his sources last night. It verified what seemed pretty likely.
The Mariners have decided to promote Kevin Mather from executive vice president of finance and ballpark operation to fill Chuck Armstrong’s role as team president and chief operating officer.
“We’re not ready to announce anything,” said senior vice president of communications Randy Adamack.
This move comes as really no surprise and had been predicted by several people. After Armstrong announced that he would retire on Jan. 31, 2014, Mariners chief executive officer Howard Lincoln said that the team would look hard at promoting someone from within the organization besides looking at outside candidates. He reiterated that feeling in a phone interview a few weeks ago, saying the club was leaning in that direction.
Obviously, Mather isn’t a name that Mariners fans are familiar with. To tell you the truth, I don’t know much about him either. I don’t think I’ve ever met him in my six years covering the team.
Judging by the responses from Geoff’s tweet late last night and some responses today, people are underwhelmed by the selection. Most Mariners fans wanted the club to hire former Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa, who was linked to the job in a story a few weeks ago.
Still no word official word if LaRussa interviewed for the job. He told the St. Louis Dispatch that he likely wouldn’t get an interview.
LaRussa’s baseball resume is pretty impeccable. His success as a manager with the White Sox, A’s and Cardinals earned him induction into the Hall of Fame this upcoming year.
Still, we have really have no idea whether or not he would make him a good fit as team president. He certainly knows the game. He certainly has connections within the game. He’s certainly experienced success. Would he have been able to transfer those experiences into success as the Mariners’ president? I guess we won’t know. It will be interesting to see when and if he’s hired for a similar role with an organization. It’s something he covets.
I’ve heard two different opinions from baseball people outside the Mariners about LaRussa as a team president. One side said that he’s too smart, too experienced and too competitive not to have success. But another side said that LaRussa’s need for total control and tendency to micromanage would be detrimental as an executive and that he would loathe the day to day business aspect that comes with the job.
As for Mather, I’m going to hold off on any quick, uninformed judgments. Yes, he’s been a part of the organizations since 1996, coming to Seattle from the Twins organization. But to say that he will be exactly the same as Armstrong or have no new ideas to bring to the positions seems a bit shortsighted. So I guess I will wait a little bit before making any determinations.
My opinion has always been to change the structure of the president to have one person focus on the finance/business side and another focus on the baseball operations.