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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

Category: manager
September 28, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Eric Wedge: I wouldn’t take five-year contract extension from Mariners

Mariners manager Eric Wedge says it's the fact his vision for the team is different from upper management's that caused him to leave. Says he would not have accepted a five-year contract extension had one been offered. Photo Credit: AP

Mariners manager Eric Wedge says it’s the fact his vision for the team is different from upper management’s that caused him to leave. Says he would not have accepted a five-year contract extension had one been offered. Photo Credit: AP

Mariners manager Eric Wedge is still on the job and not about to go quietly. Wedge read the media coverage of yesterday’s events and was not pleased with statements by the team that his decision to leave was mainly about his lack of a contract extension beyond 2014.

This morning, Wedge was blunt about why he chose to leave.

“Let me be clear here: the contract is not the reason I’m not coming back here,” Wedge said. “If they’d offered me a five-year contract, I wouldn’t have come back here. So, let’s be clear with that.”

Wedge was asked to go into greater detail.

“It’s where they see the club,” he said. “They being Howard (Lincoln), Chuck (Armstrong) and Jack (Zduriencik). And where I see the club and my vision for the future and theirs, it’s just different. And that’s about as plain as I can make it.”

Wedge said his vision of the future is sticking with the young players the team has committed to, adding to that mix and then being patient and sticking with the program.

“And having consistency,” he said. “You have to have consistency with personnel. Every time you turn over, you start over again to a certain extent.”

Wedge said he wasn’t just talking about himself and the coaching staff, but also the players the team has chosen to bring in.

“The whole gambit,” he said.

The Mariners did bring in a bunch of veterans this past off-season but mostly on one-year deals. He’d like to see the team commit to more stable pieces that can help the younger players not just now, but down the road. And not only veterans on thir final legs, but players in their prime.

When I mentioned to him that Zduriencik yesterday suggested that he and Wedge were mostly on the same page vision-wise, outside of their contract differences, Wedge shook his head.

“That’s not the case,” he said. “Like I said, I’m not not coming back here because of the contract. It’s because of how they see things and how I see things.”

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Comments | More in manager | Topics: eric wedge; jack zduriencik; vision; extension

August 20, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Eric Wedge knows he had close call, vows to change some things

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ADDITIONAL NOTE: If you missed my Talkin’ Baseball segment on Sports Radio KJR this morning, you can hear it above. Keep in mind, it was done before I talked by phone with Eric Wedge this afternoon.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge is eager to get back in the dugout this coming Friday. Wedge told me today he’ll be the manager and the guy in charge, but Robby Thompson will continue to help him get up to speed and ease back into things for a bit.

Still, this will be a big day for Wedge, coming just one month after he suffered a mild stroke.

Read my story online and in tomorrow’s paper about what Wedge told me on how he plans to cope with some of the stress that was responsible for the stroke happening in the first place.

In other news, there’s a report out there that general manager Jack Zduriencik has agreed to a one-year extension with the team. Now, there have been rumors floating around for a while now that Zduriencik has already been assured he’ll be back for 2014. In fact, it’s been said that he may have had the extension quietly given to him before the season even began.

Now, why the Mariners would do such a thing — if they did — and not tell anyone is something we can all guess at. Teams don’t always announce extensions right away.

I asked president Chuck Armstrong about it and he said it isn’t the team policy to comment. OK, then, so I picked up the phone, called Zduriencik and asked him point blank if it was true. He declined to comment.

“Howard (Lincoln) and Chuck (Armstrong) would be the ones to announce something like that, if there’s any truth to it,” Zduriencik said.

So, there we are.

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Comments | More in manager | Topics: eric wedge; stroke; robby thompson; stress

August 19, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Eric Wedge will be back in Mariners dugout Friday: Robby Thompson

The Mariners are 3-3 on this tough road trip so far and tonight will open a three-game series in Oakland against the Athletics.

The Mariners are 3-3 on this tough road trip so far and tonight will open a three-game series in Oakland against the Athletics.

Two days ago, we quoted general manager Jack Zduriencik saying the Mariners hoped to have Eric Wedge back in the dugout on Friday. Well, interim manager Robby Thompson just confirmed that Wedge will indeed be back at the start of the next homestand following a three-game series that starts here in Oakland tonight.

“We’ve talked and he will be back,” Thompson said. “In what capacity, or easing into it, we’ll talk tomorrow and then I’ll probably see him maybe on the off-day and then we’ll get a game plan together. But he will be back in uniform on Friday.”

Zduriencik told me two days ago that Wedge would only be back in his full capacity as a manager with the expectation he’d see the rest of the season through to its conclusion.

In other news, Michael Morse is out of the lineup for a second straight day, this time with what Thompson says is a wrist issue. Morse was given a day off yesterday to work through some issues that have led to a major slump the entire month of August so far.

“It’s nothing severe, but a couple of swings he’s kind of grimaced and held his wrist as of late,” Thompson said. “So, we’ll give him another day and see where he’s at tomorrow.”

As for another struggling player, the Mariners plan to keep giving the ball to relief pitcher Oliver Perez as normal, despite his struggles this month.

Opponents have a .471 batting average off Perez his past nine outings.

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Comments | Topics: eric wedge; robby thompson; michael morse; oliver perez

August 4, 2013 at 9:19 AM

Eric Wedge won’t manage Mariners this week, seeking medical advice

Mariners manager Eric Wedge won't be in the dugout again this week as he seeks further medical advice on how to resume his career after suffering mild stroke. Photo Credit: AP

Mariners manager Eric Wedge won’t be in the dugout again this week as he seeks further medical advice on how to resume his career after suffering mild stroke. Photo Credit: AP

You’ll remember that when manager Eric Wedge suffered his stroke, the team said the possiility of his return to the dugout would be re-evaluated after this road trip. Well, that trip ends today and GM Jack Zduriencik says Wedge won’t be managing this coming week either.

“I know he has a couple of appointments ongoing,” Zduriencik said. “I think he’s got something mid-week where he’s going to sit down with the doctors. He’s doing well. I mean, I’ve been talking to him every day and he sounds normal. He’s excited to get back here. He wants to get back.

“But the one thing you don’t want to have happen, when he gets back, you want him to be back. His anxiousness to get back here in the dugout is one thing, but it’s a lifelong health issue for him. As well, when he gets back here managing this club, you want him to be here. You don’t want him to come in and be here for two or three days.”

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Comments | More in manager | Topics: eric wedge; stroke; jack zduriencik; stress

July 24, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Eric Wedge still in hospital as Mariners shoot for ninth straight win

The weather is co-operating for a beautiful sunny day at Safeco Field as the Mariners try for a ninth straight win starting at 12:40 p.m.

The weather is co-operating for a beautiful sunny day at Safeco Field as the Mariners try for a ninth straight win starting at 12:40 p.m.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge is still not out of the hospital this morning, though he expects to get more news about his test results later today. That’s the word given us by interim manager Robby Thompson, who spoke with Wedge earlier this morning by phone.

“He sounded great, he really did,” Thompson said. “He really sounded good, he’s upbeat. Other than that…he wanted to know about the lineup, how guys are doing…more baseball related than anything.”

Interim manager Robby Thompson spoke this morning with Eric Wedge, who remains in a hospital after suffering dizzy spells on Monday.

Interim manager Robby Thompson spoke this morning with Eric Wedge, who remains in a hospital after suffering dizzy spells on Monday.

Wedge was hospitalized on Monday after suffering from dizziness while the Mariners were taking batting practice prior to the series opener. Thompson agreed Wedge’s medical ordeal has played out longer than he’d initially anticipated.

“Obviously, we were hoping he’d get out right away,” Thompson said. “But under these circumstances and with all of the testing that he’s been through, it’s taken a little longer. They were just really leaning on the cautious side of things. Hopefully, if any of us were in the hospital, we’d want out of there as quickly as possible. So, we’ll see how he feels and we’ll know more later this afternoon, we’re hoping.”

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Comments | More in manager | Topics: eric wedge, robby thompson; hospital; streak

July 23, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Eric Wedge to spend a second night in the hospital

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Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik held a team meeting with players about a half-hour ago and told them manager Eric Wedge will be spending a second night in the hospital tonight while he awaits the results of extensive testing done since yesterday.

Wedge entered the hospital yesterday evening after experiencing dizzy spells during batting practice.

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Zduriencik addressed the media shortly after.

“Eric is going to be kept another evening for observation,” Zduriencik said. “He’s doing well. I had an opportunity to speak with him this morning. I visited with him and his wife Kate and he’s doing well. He’s in good spirits.

“But it’s a little premature to speculate yet. To say exactly what the prognosis is going to be. But more than anything else, they just want to keep him another evening as they get the results of the tests that are ongoing.”

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Comments | More in manager, medical | Topics: eric wedge; jack zduriencik; hospital; robby thompson

June 27, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Why Eric Wedge is so ticked-off at what’s happening to Mariners

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Mariners manager Eric Wedge was clearly fed up with his hitters after Tuesday’s loss to the Pirates. Not simply because they aren’t putting up as big a fight these days and the team is drifting back to its familliar position of being too far under .500 to even dream of a winning season.

No, it goes deeper. It’s more about putting yourself out there, on-the-line for folks and having them make you look ridiculous.

Consider what Wedge said about this team on the final day of the 2012 season.

“I want them to understand just how good we’re going to be in the future,” Wedge said. “I don’t say that without reason. The people who don’t want to see it, it’s because they choose not to see it or they’re just negative by nature. Ultimately, we are a better team this year. That’s a fact. We’re going to continue to get better.”

Actually, it’s not a fact. The Mariners are really no better this year than they were last. And last year, they didn’t have a bunch of extra games against a Houston Astros club with a .380 winning percentage. (.371 against teams other than Seattle).

The Mariners are 34-45 (.430) after 79 games this year. When Wedge made his comments last season, his team had just finished 75-87 (.463).

So, no, they are not better in the win-loss column.

On offense, the Mariners hit .234 last year and are at .236 this year. They had an OBP of .296 last  year and are currently at .300. Last year, they slugged  .369 and are now at .380.

So, yeah, they are technically “better” this year, but that type of progress will lead to contention some time about 2027.

And really, if you look at the way the offense has been trending, the smart money’s not on the Mariners exceeding their 2012 totals. The Mariners have hit .229 with a .284 OBP and a .370 slugging percentage over the last month since May 26.

Wedge isn’t dumb. He knows his hitters are making him look really, really bad. And he knows what that can lead to.

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Comments | More in manager | Topics: eric wedge; jack zduriencik; rebuilding; offense

June 3, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Mariners hold pregame team meeting, try to put first two months behind them

The Chicago White Sox are taking batting practice right now with onetime Mariners outfielder Casper Wells shagging flies in center field.

The Chicago White Sox are taking batting practice right now with onetime Mariners outfielder Casper Wells shagging flies in center field.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge gathered the team behind closed doors prior to today’s pregame batting practice and tried to rally his troops for what could be a tough four months ahead if things don’t begin to change in a hurry.

If you heard my segment on Sports Radio KJR this morning (found in box below), you’ll know I said this team has about two weeks to turn things around or the season will be lost. This wasn’t just some arbitrary date I picked. Part of my reasoning is, I still think this team is much better than it has shown so far and has the ability to rally if it can get some decent pitching outside of Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. You’ve got two top starters, not to mention a bunch of veterans who are performing either at or eyond expectations. What this team needs is to stop having injuries at key moments and — more importantly — to get at least one or two more solid performances out of young players. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and for me, Michael Saunders and Justin Smoak are two prime candidtes for much better returns on the team’s investment.

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But now, the players have to actually go out and do it. They have to walk the walk, so to speak.

All those tough rough trips in a brutal opening two months both schedule and opponent-quality-wise are now done. You might remember me saying on my last KJR show that a veteran player told me at spring training that if the Mariners could survive the first two months, they would be OK.

Well, they haven’t exactly “survived” to date, since they are nine games under .500. So, things have to change as of right now. The squad is back home and tonight faces a 24-30 team with a struggling offense. After that, you’ve got a stumbling Yankees team that hasn’t been the same since the Mariners took two of three at Yankee Stadium three weeks back. Then, you’ve got the Houston Astros.

So, that’s 10 games. Want to begin a long, slow climb back to .500? Well, you can start lopping huge chunks off that gap right here and right now. Blow this chance, though, as the Mariners just did on the road, and the season is just about done. There comes a point when a team simply digs too big a hole to climb out of. We’ll pretty much know by June 20, when the Mariners finish a series in Anaheim, where this club is headed. Whether it will carry this pace on for the final half of the season, or whether Seattle has the ability to make a move and be something more.

Right now, any thought of being more is all just talk. Talk doesn’t mean much anymore. Here’s what Wedge had to say about today’s meeting.

“Really, for the rest of the way schedule-wise, it’s about as normal as it can get,” Wedge said. “You talk about home-and-away travel, off-days…we’ve weathered that storm here in the first two months, so that should work well for us the next four months.”

As for his players and the main theme of what Wedge told them in the meeting: “I just wanted to just talk about where we’re at,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of tough losses here these first couple of months. More so than I’ve seen. And I’m proud of the way they’ve handled it. They stood up to it, they came out with energy and were fired up the next day.

“We were in a position to win four games on this road trip and got snakebit in a couple of them,” he added. “We’ve had a few trips like that. You work hard to put yourself in a position to win ballgames and more times than not, good things are going to happen. They’ve got a great dynamic in that locker room. We’re banged up right now. I think we’ve got five guys from our Opening Day lineup that aren’t in there right now, ut it gives opportunities for other guys to step up. It gives opportunities for guys in AAA to step up. So, it’s just about staying the course. Coming out here and working hard to get this first one, working hard to win the series and working hard to keep getting better.

“But the intangibles are what I’ve been really proud of and we’ve got to continue to be better. Be more consistent with our lineup. Be more consistent with our starting pitching and our bullpen and different areas of our club. But come to the ballpark and keep doing it the right way. If you come to the ballpark and keep doing it the right way, I’m a big believer that, over time, things will work out for the best.”

But are the Mariners actually getting better?

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Comments | More in manager | Topics: eric wedge; joe saunders; michael saunders; justin smoak

May 16, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Eric Wedge, Raul Ibanez and playing a managerial hunch

Raul Ibanez is congratulated at the plate after hitting a grand slam last night off Yankees starter Phil Hughes in the first inning. Photo Credit: AP

Raul Ibanez is congratulated at the plate after hitting a grand slam last night off Yankees starter Phil Hughes in the first inning. Photo Credit: AP

We’ve seen Raul Ibanez hit three home runs in two games at Yankee Stadium after Mariners manager Eric Wedge openly stated that his outfielder’s prior success at this ballpark was one of the reasons he’d see game action. Another reason given for Ibanez starting on Tuesday night against left-handed pitcher C.C. Sabathia was his track record of success against the southpaw.

But when Ibanez lived up to those expectations — taking Sabathia deep on Tuesday and then popping two more homers on Wednesday — the results were dismissed as “lucky” and a “fluke” by some of my readers on Twitter. When I tried to explain to them that Wedge was playing a hunch in giving Ibanez the rare lefty-on-lefty start against Sabathia and had it pay off, one reader expressed horror that an MLB manager would conduct himself that way.

The reader, it seemed, was shocked at the discovery that MLB managers allow hunches to dictate many of their in-game and pre-game decisions. In fact, I’ll put forward — as I did last night on Twitter — that managers at this level are paid for their expertise and with that expert knowledge comes the ability to make educated guesses that will often exceed the thought process of the average fan. Or even the above average, self-professed thinking fan.

For me, this might represent one of the biggest disconnects I see between some who favor a more stats-oriented approach to baseball versus what those who work in the sport actually deal with on a daily basis. It’s right up there along with a failure by some fans and analysts to grasp the nuances of full-time players versus part-time players, or realistic, true-life “sample sizes” versus the ideal theoretical ones that play out over hundreds, even thousands of at-bats.

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Comments | More in manager | Topics: raul ibanez; eric wedge; c.c. sabathia; john jaso